After a great 10-1 run, many memories and new records are what are left of a strange season that had three starts and two games cancelled. The records may be broken in the future, but the memories, especially those of the sixteen seniors that played their last game in a Mustang uniform on Nov. 29, will never die.
The season started with a BANG as the area was threatened with Hurricane Gustav. However, Hurricane “Quinny” rolled into Nederland the day before and set a new school record with 317 yards rushing. The Mustangs, led by Quintavius Garrett won, 33-13.
Not only was Nederland a big game for Garrett, but offensive lineman Kory Freeman and Kendrick Hebert as well.
“My biggest highlight of the season was being a part of the O-line that helped allow Quinny to set the most rushing yards in one game,” Freeman said.
Hebert, who missed a couple of games due to an injury during the hurricane, also liked the Nederland game, because “I had a lot of wipeouts and pancakes.”
Junior Laramie Phillips felt that Nederland , too, was a big game, because it was his first game to start in a Mustang uniform.
“I felt so nervous that game, but once the game was over, a new record was set and it felt great,” Phillips said.
LC-M, the game that almost wasn’t was moved to Saturday night because of the days off from Hurricane Gustav. That game was Matthew Provost’s favorite because he scored his first touchdown during the 42-7 win.
Hurricane Ike forced a mandatory evacuation the day before the Mustangs were to face the Kirbyville Wildcats, so that game, along with the Jasper game were cancelled before the Mustangs were back on track, ready to play, October 3 against a team they had never faced before, 4A Brookshire Royal.
Brookshire Royal helped the Mustangs get the kinks out before their first district game against Silsbee. Silsbee gave the Mustangs their biggest test of regular season, as the Mustangs were forced into their only second overtime ever. That game was one of the favorites for several players, including Robert Jiles and Josh Riggs, who were thrilled that “we beat Silsbee in overtime (14-7).”
“My biggest highlight of the year would be making the game-tying extra point when we played Silsbee,” kicker Justin Sparrow said.
Junior Roderick Simmons, who was moved up to varsity after a couple of weeks on JV, also caught a 50 yard pass against Silsbee that was his highlight for the year.
Quarterback Ortaviuos Hypolite’s biggest highlight was a tackle he made during the overtime part of the game against Silsbee. Hypolite also accomplished many goals during the year and although didn’t break any records, he set the number two spot in several categories.
He trails Eric Anderson’s career completions by 1 for the number two spot with 204. He also holds the number two spot for career passing yards with 2,815 and pass completions with .588 percent. He holds the number four spot for career touchdown passes with 26.
Hamshire-Fannett was also a favorite for three players-two who had interceptions during the game-senior Carlderyl Dove took an interception in for a touchdown, while Josh Gloston had a great interception and one for a touchdown. Senior Josh Lynch had a hit during that game that put a Longhorn out. The Mustangs won, 66-0 after scoring 30 points in the first quarter.
The Mustangs turned around and beat Bridge City, 66-0, also with big plays from senior Adrian Steen, who scored his first touchdown during the game and junior Trey Franks, who scored with a 97-yard kickoff return. Franks, who played both offense and defense, broke his thumb in the first playoff game, but still had some amazing tackles, catches and even an interception to end the year. Senior Curtis Rose also had his biggest hit of the year against the Cardinals. Rose was known to torture quarterbacks week after week in the backfield.
When Hardin Jefferson and WO-S faced off in week 9, the Hawks were undefeated in district and felt that they could play with the “big boys.” However, the Mustangs went on to win, 40-0, but wished the Hawks luck in their first playoff run in a while.
Sophomore Mark Roberts and junior Terry Rubin had big plays that they remembered during that win.
“My biggest highlight was Hardin Jefferson, because I scored on a pass the very first score and then, when Kevin (Robinson) blocked the punt and I caught it and took it in for six,” Roberts said.
Rubin chased down the running back and then was able to play some offense as running back himself.
Orangefield, which was senior night and homecoming all rolled into one, wasn’t chosen as anyone’s favorite. For most, it was kind of a sad night as the seniors played their last game in Dan R. Hooks Stadium. However, all could be proud as the sign was repaired before the game after being damaged in both Hurricane Humberto and Ike.
A defensive record was set that night as the Chain Gang held the Bobcats to NO first downs and also racked up 615 offensive yards of their own. The Mustangs left the field that night with 29 district game wins in a row.
The Mustangs faced a Coldspring team that was ready for a playoff win after losing in the first round last year. However, with players like Van Jordan protecting Hypolite and blocking on the line, the Mustangs won, 36-8.
“My biggest highlight was Coldspring, because I blocked good and didn’t let anyone get to the quarterback,” Jordan said.
Caldwell was a big game for sophomore Darrius Robinson and senior Jacory Roberts. The Mustangs beat the Hornets, 35-7.
“Most of my family got the opportunity to see me play at my best (against Caldwell ) and I had two sacks and 10 tackles that game,” Roberts said.
Although Gilmer was a devastating loss, junior James Haynes will never forget his critical one-handed catch that gave the Mustangs the first down they needed. Haynes also had an unusual play against Caldwell , the week before when his punt was blocked but fell right in his hands. He was able to carry the ball 27 yards for a first down. Junior Stephen Cook also had a big play in the Gilmer game when he recovered a fumble to start the third quarter. Cook was a dynamic force on the Chain Gang during the season after coming in a few games late due to an injury.
For seniors Kevin Robinson and Kendal Veitch, their biggest highlights didn’t come during a specific game.
“I would have to say all of the games because I try and do my best,” Robinson said. Robinson was voted Defensive MVP by the 21-3A coaches and was also one of the top players that the team chose as “loving to play next to.”
Veitch’s highlight was making first team all district as center. “I’m going to miss being with all of my friends that I have played with my entire life,” Veitch said.
Two sets of brothers helped make up the team – Robinson and younger brother Darrius and Garrett and younger brother Roderick Simmons. All four agreed that playing with their brothers was something that they really enjoyed.
“I loved playing with my brother because he taught me everything I needed to know about playing Mustang ball,” Darrius Robinson said.
Senior Eric Arnold chose two games-Brookshire-Royal and Bridge city but most important to him was what football has taught him.
“Mustang football has taught me to enjoy every moment of life because all things don’t last forever,” Arnold said.
As for Coach Dan Hooks, he celebrated win number 261 over Caldwell, while keeping the most winningest program in the state percentage.
“We had a great year and I wish the seniors the best of luck. As for the young ones, we’ve already hit the weight room and are getting ready for next year,” Hooks said.
I often think at the end of the season about those who stand out in my mind, that might be overlooked. I will never forget the 2005 season, as we were standing on the sidelines at the end of the Wimberly game, knowing there was no way we could win and watching a freshman, with a “pearl” helmet on continue to cheer on the players, turning around to try to get the fans involved. That player spent all four years playing on these fields, but more importantly, encouraging others, even the fans to support the team and not give up. Tears came to my eyes during the last minutes of the Gilmer game as this same player, Kory Freeman, was doing the same thing he had four seasons before. He truly has a blue and silver heart.
Thanks to all of our fans who support us through think and thin, win or lose. Thank you also to those who always tell me how much they enjoy the articles. I love this “job” and take great pleasure in covering Mustang football and Mustang sports. Until next time…