Superintendent Rickie Harris holds up the state championship trophy before presenting it to Head Coach Cornel Thompson.
Meri Elen Jacobs – For The Record
His 17th birthday will be one that he never forgets.
And neither will the thousands of fans who watched and cheered or his team mates that helped him make it the best birthday ever.
The Mustangs showed up for quarterback Jack Dallas’ birthday celebration at NRG Stadium this past Friday at 4, hungry for a state championship and left satisfied, with gold medals around their necks, after beating Celina in the 4A Division 2 state game, 22-3. Dallas was also named the offensive MVP while Steven Tims was named MVP for the defense.
“I knew Monday that we were going to win the football game,” Head Coach Cornel Thompson said. “We had the best Monday practice that we had all year. We were really focused.”
Celina’s offense, who had averaged 50 points a game, had no answer for the Mustang Chain Gang from the first series. Bobcat quarterback Connor Pingleton left the game early on with a fractured arm and back up Caleb Knowles took over.
“Our game plan didn’t change one bit,” Thompson said. ”I understand it was a championship game but we had to do offensively and defensively what we had practiced all week long.”
The Bobcats were the first to score when Eduardo Paulino kicked a 26 yard field goal after Celina recovered a Mustang fumble at the 12 yard line.
After being pinned deep in Celina’s territory twice in the first quarter, the Mustangs were finally able to get on the board in the second quarter when Dallas took the ball in from four yards out and then scored the two point conversion to put the Mustangs up, 8-3.
On the Mustangs very next series, on the 3rd play, running back Jeremiah Shaw took the hand off and scampered through the Celina defense 21 yards for the second score. The two point conversion failed and the Mustangs led, 14-3, going into the half.
The Mustangs came out in the second half and Dallas did the honors again on the first series, running the ball 24 yards around the right side to go up, 20-3. Dallas’ pass to KJ Miller was good for the two point conversion.
Although WO-S never scored again, 22 points was enough to bring home the gold medals and the state title for 2015. The Mustangs showed their versatility, using the ground game to put 20 of the 22 points on the board, when just last week against Cuero, all six touchdowns were passing ones.
Dallas finished the season with 209 completions for 3113 yards. Thomas Wallace was his top receiver with 54 catches for 984 yards and 17 touchdowns. Leading rushers for WO-S were Jeremiah Shaw with 960 yards and 13 touchdowns and Malech Edwards with 811 yards and 8 touchdowns.
As the minutes ticked down, excitement grew on the sidelines. Payton Robertson was in for Dallas in the last couple of series and Dallas did the honors in the last minute of the game, dousing Thompson with a cooler of ice water before the last second ticked off of the clock.
“The football team has no idea what it does for relationships in Orange,” Thompson said. “We kept growing in numbers. The kids called my attention to it. Everyone was wanting the same thing and we were all in it for the same reason, to win.”
Players, cheerleaders and coaches swarmed the field as the clock went to zero. Amidst the medal presentation and the trophy presentation, the crowd on the field and fans in the stands, sang “Happy Birthday” to Dallas.
Just before midnight, Dallas and the rest of the team, cheerleaders, band and drill team were greeted as they came into Orange with a police escort that brought them all the way through town with flashing lights and sirens, into the high school parking lot that was jam packed with fans, families and parents, honking their horns and cheering for their state champions-the 2015 Mustangs!