Staff Report

WEST ORANGE- Cornel Thompson will become the new athletic director and head football coach for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs.

Thompson, who celebrated his 40th year in coaching during the 2010 football season, will be replacing Dan R. Hooks who announced his retirement on March 18. Thompson has spent most of his coaching career alongside Hooks as defensive coordinator.

The announcement today wasn’t a surprise, although it was met with much anticipation by Mustang fans and high school football enthusiast throughout Texas. Thompson was one of two remaining finalist for the position that had been narrowed down from six candidates that included Mustang offensive coordinator Toby Foreman.

West Orange-Cove Consolidated School District superintendent Dr. James Colbert Jr. along with a five member panel conducted final interviews Wednesday morning before the decision became public.

Thompson is known as the mastermind behind the famed Mustang “Chain-Gang Defense” and an orchestrator with Hooks in two state football championships, plus a run of district championships and playoff berths that dates back to 1981.

He has been on staff for all but three years since 1977 after beginning his coaching career in 1971. He shared in over 250 Mustang victories departing for three seasons, 2000-2003, taking a head coaching job in Palestine but returned to WOS in 2004.

Public support for Thompson and Toby Foreman surged following the decision of Hooks to step down. Sports writers speculated while chat rooms and sports forums buzzed. A Facebook page titled “Coach Cornel Thompson for WOS Head Coach” became a testament to his popularity among the Mustang community. For most, after Toby Foreman was excluded, their was only one choice for Dr. Colbert and the hiring committee to make.

The WOCCSD board is scheduled to approve the selection of Thompson on Monday, April 25 and the hiring is set to be announced Tuesday, April 26.

The hiring committee consisted of Colbert, Margaret Duchamp (executive director of human resources), Hutcherson Hill (principal), Michael Washburn (teacher/tennis coach), Erick Guillory (parent) and Wayne Sparrow (community representative).

Toby Foreman, a former player under Hooks at WO-S, has been the offensive coordinator the last two years and won back-to-back titles as head track coach the last two years. He was a finalist for the head coaching job in Giddings in early April. He remains a candidate for the same position at other school districts throughout the state as he climbs the ladder in his talented coaching career.