Both the West Orange-Stark Mustangs and the Silsbee Tigers need a big challenge before they start the Class 3A playoffs next week.
They’re going to get it and its going to be each other with the outright District 21-3A title on the line Friday when the Tigers host the Mustangs.
“It should be one heckuva football game,” said Mustang coach Cornel Thompson. “The teams really match up well on paper. Silsbee has a tremendous, athletic team. As coaching staffs, we have a lot of respect for one another. The Tigers are coached extremely well on both sides of the ball.”
The Mustangs (9-0, 5-0) will check in with 21-3A’s leading defense by far while the Tigers (8-1, 5-0) have the district’s top-ranked offense.
The Tigers will be trying to go for a first this year in 21-3A play which is trying to score on the Mustang “Chain Gang” defense.
The Mustangs are the proud owner of seven shutouts this season, five against 21-3A opponents. In five easy 21-3A wins, WO-S has outscored their opponents 233-0. No, that’s not a typo, it really is 233-0.
The Mustangs are allowing just 129.2 yards a contest.
The Tigers enter the tilt averaging more than 380 yards a game, led by outstanding quarterback Patrick Reed.
“Reed is definitely the engineer that makes them go,” said Thompson. “He’s the best quarterback we’ve seen since we played Central’s (Robert) Mitchell. He does it with his legs and his arm and that rascal is so dang elusive. We’ll have our hands full trying to keep him bottled up.”
Reed has completed 78-of-154 passes for more than 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Reed is also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 701 yards and six TDs on 82 carries.
His favorite receiving target is Jordan Holmes, who has 27 catches for 636 yards and four TDs. Also capable of making big catches are Chris Elam (8-302-4), Montana Garcia (14-257-1) and Zayon Jackson (16-218-3).
Tailback Floyd Spearman is a threat catching the ball out of the backfield and has 430 yards and 14 TDs on 92 carries.
“Silsbee can hurt you in so many ways,” said Thompson. “Reed and Spearman can definitely run the ball and they have a strong vertical passing game. They’ve big-played folks all season long with that and we’ve got to be on our toes defensively every single down.”
The Mustangs have hit a nice stride offensively in recent weeks and are averaging 338.7 yards a game. WO-S will face a formidable Tiger defense that yields just 225.4 yards per outing.
WO-S senior quarterback Jimmy Salter has completed 84-of-154 passes for 1,177 yards and 14 TDs and has yet to be picked off this season.
Salter’s favorite targets have been receivers J’Marcus Rhodes (32-527-8), Tremaine Anderson (16-142-3) and Ra’shon McDonald (11-237-1).
Abear Simien leads the Mustang ground game with 450 yards and four TDs on 65 carries. Salter has 286 yards and nine TDs on 70 carries.
“Offensively, we’ve been improving from week to week, especially with our running game,” said Thompson. “Our young offensive line, with a couple of sophomores, have improved a great deal with nine games under their belts. We’ve got to get the best effort of the season from our line Friday night. Silsbee’s noseguard Seth Adams hasn’t been touched all year. He’s what we like to call a ‘beast.’ He disrupts a lot of things, especially running games.”
Of course, the 21-3A title is on the line as well as the playoffs starting next week.
“There is a lot to play for, you’re talking about a district title now,” said Thompson. “Both teams are looking for that district title and I think both of us need a good old ‘slobber-knocker’ to get us both ready for the postseason. The biggest thing for both of us though is to stay injury-free, you don’t want to go limping into the postseason now.”