If there is one team in the area that starts every year with legit state championship dreams it is the West Orange-Stark Mustangs.

WO-S has built a storied history that has two state titles and two more trips to the championship game. There has only been one year the Mustangs have not won the District 21-3A title.

Last year saw the Mustangs go 13-1 and reach the regional finals. Nine opponents did not score a single point.

What happens when a majority of Texas teams has to replace 15 starters? The consistent answer is the team struggles while it rebuilds.

Other coaches and fans might not agree yet Coach Cornel Thompson said he has his worries this year.

“We are in a rebuilding phase,” Thompson said. “We only have two back on defense and two on offense who saw quality time from last year. We have had to do a bunch of teaching this year. We certainly have not been in this situation in quite some time.”

First the Mustangs had to replace three-year starting quarterback Jimmy Salter. Chase Rutledge is expected to take the field Friday at Little Cypress-Mauriceville. Dylan Sterling will then be used as a wide receiver. Thompson made sure to note the competition is far from over.

“Both those guys will go under center,” Thompson said. “Competition is what life is all about. Chase knows he has a talented guy breathing down his neck.”

WO-S got a help from two transfers this year. The offense will gain running back Chris James who is not too shabby at defensive back on defense. His defensive skills is where colleagues are looking to sign James.

Johnny Shaw transferred from Center. He is a University of Texas commit who had 88 tackles with five interceptions.

“We got real lucky with those two there,” Thompson said. “I don’t mean to offend anyone but they came here real green. They were not used to the Mustang Way even though they were well coached. It has been an adjustment.”

If all this was not enough to scare opponents there is also a guy named Deionte Thompson in the Mustangs’ secondary. He has verbally committed to Alabama and had six interceptions in 2012.

Unlike many years in recent past, WO-S has a good bit of size on both lines. Three players in center Jacob Hyborchuk and tackles Josh Orebo and Paul Hebert all weigh in the 250 range. Noseguard Octavious Crosson is no little guy at about 220 pounds.

WO-S will still keep coaches awake the night before games. Even if it is a rebuilding year, the year always starts with high expectations.

WO-S starts its year with four tough games against LC-M, PN-G, Beaumont Central and Jasper. The Central game will be a homecoming as former WO-S assistant coach Toby Foreman returns as the head coach of the Jaguars.

“First thing we must do is try to have no injuries those first four,” Thompson said. “Nobody has a tougher nondistrict schedule than ours. We always have the utmost respect for every team on our schedule, especially this year. We will have trouble preparing for all of them. There is no question Silsbee is the favorite with so many players back. Then look at the strides being made with everyone else. Coach Josh Smalley has Orangefield moving up and Buna is scary. Hamshire-Fannett is nothing to look past and Hardin-Jefferson’s new coach will turn that team around. We will show up on Fridays and what happens after the coin flip.”