Mustangs hope to avoid lethal bite of the Rattlers
Ever since early September the state’s high school football poll-watchers have seen the Navasota Rattlers and the West Orange-Stark Mustangs slowly ascend in the weekly Class 3A rankings.
And now on the first Friday in December both the No. 1-ranked Rattlers and the No. 3 Mustangs boast unblemished 13-0 records and will compete for the Region III championship and a trip to the state Division II semifinals in Class 3A.
This action will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at Turner Stadium in Humble with the Mustangs fresh from a 28-0 blanking of Lorena in the regional semifinals at Waller High School while Navasota outlasted La Marque 30-21 at Woodforest Stadium in Shenandoah.
And what better way to find out what the Mustangs will have to contend with Friday night than to visit with La Marque’s defensive cornerbacks coach Toby Foreman, who helped work up a game plan for last Friday’s game against Navasota.
Foreman played his high school football at West Orange-Stark and later spent several years as an assistant Mustangs football coach and as varsity track coach where his Mustangs won three consecutive state track championships.
Actually one of Foreman’s duties last week was to contact Head Coach Cornel Thompson and Lorena’s head coach Ray Biles and try to agree on a site for this week’s regional title game.
But instead, Thompson’s dealing last week with Navasota Head Coach Lee Fedora was what counted for the Regional championship game for Friday night.
La Marque went into the playoff fame against Navasota ranked in the Class 3A Top Ten with an impressive 11-1 record, suffering its only loss to Coldspring, which they avenged in the second round of the state playoffs. La Marque had defeated West Columbia—the Mustangs’ second-round opponent—in regular district competition.
“West Columbia was a pretty good team,” Foreman recalled during our phone conversation Sunday night. “Our score was 0-0 at halftime and then we made some adjustments during the intermission and defeated them quite handily in the second half.”
Foreman doesn’t really believe that Navasota is a better team than La Marque, “but they were last Friday night because they took advantage of our many mistakes,” Foreman said. “The Rattlers came into our game with only seven turnovers, and we forced four Friday night.”
Last Friday Navasota’s defense kept coming up with big plays and the offense turned them into points. Twice La Marque drove inside the Rattlers’ 10-yard line and came away empty-handed. “We had a long touchdown run nullified by a penalty because we didn’t have enough players on the line of scrimmage,” Foreman added.
“Navasota is a very physical team, just like the West Orange-Stark Mustangs,” Foreman pointed out. “They like to make a physical surge very early in the game, hoping to intimidate the opponent. We withstood the punishment and physically beat them up pretty well in the process.
“I’ve seen both teams (Navasota and West Orange-Stark) play this season and I believe the Mustangs can beat Navasota if they play their best game of the year on Friday,” Foreman predicted. “Nobody prepares better for an upcoming opponent than the Mustangs.”
According to Foreman, he said that his team was so concerned about stopping Navasota’s passing attack that they just ran the ball and really hurt La Marque on the ground. He added that last Friday’s playoff matchup with Navasota was a “very exciting game.”
Foreman said that like the Mustangs, the Rattlers have several of their players going both ways. “Navasota has this one good-sized kid who plays some at linebacker and safety on defense and is one of the top wide receivers on offense,” Foreman recalled.
He predicted that the winner of the Navasota-Mustangs regional championship game Friday night will probably meet Gilmer at Texas Stadium for the state title.
Foreman also added that if he were a betting man, his money would be on the West Orange-Stark Mustangs Friday night. He pointed out that during the 2010 season he coached several of the players who will face Navasota and if they give 112 per cent Friday night, everything should work out fine for the Mustangs.
Foreman concluded by quoting one of the best and most respected coaches he’s ever known, “The team that blocks and tackles best will win the football game.” That quote was one of the favorites of former West Orange-Stark head football coach and athletic director Dan R. Hooks.
KWICKIES…A special tip of the Korner Kap to the Orange Community Christian football team and its coach Larry “Doobie” Spears for making it to the TAPPS Division II state semifinals before running in a buzz-saw in the form of undefeated Liftgate Christian of Seguin and losing 57-12 in Bellville Saturday. Spears, a former West Orange-Stark Mustang, did a tremendous job considering this was his first season only the second year the Lions have been playing six-man football.
And while on the subject, perhaps the biggest surprise of the state playoffs was Nederland’s 22-19 overtime upset victory of previously undefeated Pearland Dawson, which was the state’s No. 1 team in Class 4A. However, the gritty Bulldogs (12-1) have another huge challenge when they meet Georgetown (13-0) Saturday in the Region III Division I Class 4A state quarterfinals in Cypress.
Nine members of the Big 12 Conference were awarded bowl bids Sunday with the Oklahoma Sooners meeting the Texas Aggies, who defected from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference early this year, in the Cotton Bowl at Jerry Jones’ Palace in Arlington Jan. 4, 2013. The SEC has 10 teams that received bowl bids Sunday. And in the case of a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, Louisiana Tech (9-3) turned down a bid to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport for a more lucrative offer and as a result are going nowhere in the post-season while Georgia Tech (6-7) was invited to play Southern Cal (7-5) in the Sun Bowl at El Paso New Year’s Eve.
Notre Dame and Alabama remained the top two teams in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football Poll while No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Oregon each moved up one spot, Georgia slipped from third to No. 6 while No. 7 Kansas State, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 LSU and No. 10 Texas A&M were unchanged. Newcomers to this week’s poll were Louisville at No. 22 and San Jose State at No. 24.
JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texas (11-1) nailed down an NFL playoff berth Sunday with their 24-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. But instead of celebrating with champagne, T-shirts and championship caps like the New England Patriots (9-3) did after clinching the AFC East Division (their NFL-best ninth division crown since the Texans joined the NFL in 2002)) with their 23-16 win over Miami Sunday, the Texans let the excitement subside quickly realizing they have much more work to accomplish—like beating the Patriots before a national audience on ESPN Monday night and having an inside shot at the home field throughout the entire playoffs. But it will be a major task because New England hasn’t lost at home in December since 2009, having won 20 straight games at Gillette Stadium.
Pictured above: WOS Mustang Deionte Thompson