When the West Orange-Stark Mustangs play the Caldwell Hornets in the area round of the high school state football playoffs Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Wood Forest Stadium in The Woodlands, they will be taking on a team that has had two weeks to get ready.

However, the Hornets (6-3) didn’t know until Saturday night they would be meeting the Mustangs, who posted a very convincing 36-8 bi-district victory over the Coldspring Trojans at Clyde Abshier Stadium in chilly Deer Park.

Caldwell became eligible for the state playoffs two weeks ago when they upset Cameron Yoe, 49-28, ending a five-year run for the Yoemen in the state playoffs.  “There are four good teams in our district and unfortunately we’re the odd man out,” commented Cameron Yoe head coach Mike Mullins. 

Caldwell’s huge point output in that final game of the regular season in District 24-3A not only got them into the playoffs but they surpassed Rockdale in the point differential, sending them against the Mustangs in the second round.

Caldwell, Rockdale and undefeated and No. 4-ranked Navasota, the district champion which will meet Silsbee in a Division I game, are the three playoff-bound teams that enjoyed a bye last week due to the fact there is no District 23-3A. Rockdale will meet Cleveland this weekend in the other playoff game.

WO-S longtime head coach Dan Hooks was pleased to lock up Wood Forest Stadium for Friday’s contest with Caldwell. “Now that classes 5A and 4A have gone to four playoff teams from each district, it’s a lot more difficult to get good fields early in the playoffs,” Hooks pointed out.

The Mustangs’ head man, who coached his 260th career win Saturday night, added that ticket prices for the Caldwell-Mustang game will be $4 for students, $6 for adults presale and $7 at the gate. The Mustangs will be the visitors once again.

Hooks was pleased with the Mustangs’ victory over Coldspring, especially in the last three quarters. “Getting behind in the first period served as a wake-up call, and the boys really responded, especially after the halftime talk given to them by Cornel,” Hooks said. He was referring to defensive coordinator Cornel Thompson.

“We only gave up 39 yards in the second half.

“Hypo’s (Mustang quarterback Ortavious Hypolite) touchdown pass to Trey Franks on a fourth-and-11 situation was the turning point of the game for us,” Hooks continued. WO-S was trailing 8-6 with 6:10 left in the half when Hooks decided to go for the touchdown. It worked and Hypolite also ran in the two-point conversion giving the Mustangs a 14-8 lead they never surrendered.

“Hypo played really well,” Hooks added. “He’s a hard kid to rattle and is real easy to coach.”  The senior quarterback connected on 6 of 10 passes for 91 yards and added 73 yards on 12 carries. Senior tailback Quintavious Garrett led the way with 162 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.

Like Coldspring, Caldwell is a ground-oriented team that operates from the winged-T and slot-T offenses and likes to control the clock. “They use a lot of misdirection plays much like Kirbyville and they don’t throw the football much,” Hooks said after looking at the scouting report. “I think the last pass they threw was sometime in October.”

The Hornets had the No. 1 offense in District 24-3A, averaging 485 yards per game and rushed the football 3,855 yards in nine games.
Caldwell is led by junior running back Kysan Woolverton, who has rushed for 1,354 yards on 175 carries and has scored 12 touchdowns. Nelson Scott, also a junior, has 1,095 yards on 110 totes and scored 14 TDs, but did not play in the Cameron Yoe contest for some reason.

The offense is directed by senior quarterback Trenton Sims, who has thrown for 512 yards, and is a good team leader. The kicking game is solid with senior Michael McCoy, who has booted through 33 PATs. Woolverton and senior Mark Junek handle the kickoff returns.

The Hornets use a 4-3 defense and like to move around a lot. They have given up only 276 yards per game, have caused 14 fumbles and are led by defensive end Nicholas Havemann and linebackers Eli Gage Cody Spittler. 

“They have a tough bunch of kids on defense who will come ready to play four full quarters of football,” Hooks concluded. Caldwell is coached by Dale Williams, who has been at the helm of the Hornets for five years.

The winner of Friday night’s game will play the winner between Gilmer (10-1) and Mexia (8-3), who play against each other this weekend. These winners will play Saturday, Nov. 28 at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin at 2:30 p.m.

KWICKIES…We traveled to Deer Park Saturday night to watch the West Orange-Stark Mustangs rally to beat Coldspring 36-8. Temperatures were in the 40’s at game time with the north wind putting the chill factor in the 30’s. Despite the real football weather, there was a great crowd supporting the ‘Stangs on the visitor’s side. Among those we saw at the game were former Mustang coach Mark Foreman and former Lutcher Stark High and McNeese football player Dr. Jonathan Lee, who is an orthopedic surgeon in Houston. Coincidentally, Dr. Lee assisted in repairing an ACL knee injury last week in Houston on our grand daughter Ryan Smith, a freshman at Hudson High in Lufkin. Ryan starts re-hab on Tuesday.

When Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed kicked a 32-yard game-winning field goal in the final seconds of the Steelers’ game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, it marked the first 11-10 final score in NFL history, covering 12,837 games.

According to USA Today Sports Weekly, three major league franchises tied for being the least successful teams over the past five years—the Baltimore Orioles, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Kansas City Royals. Teams were awarded points for postseason and regular-season success, drafting/signing success, front office and managerial continuity, franchise value, attendance, affordability and payroll dollars per win.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Dallas Cowboys opened their arms to the return of quarterback Tony Romo and he responded by throwing the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give the Dallas Cowboys a come-from-behind 14-10 victory over those hated Washington Redskins Sunday night. The win kept the fading playoff hopes alive for the Pokes, who upped their record to 6-4 for the season. Although it did not happen Sunday night, when Romo is in the game the Cowboys score 24 points or more, but when he is out injured they score 14 points or less.