After purge, West Orange-Stark reboots
West Orange-Stark head coach Cornel Thompson does not mince words when it comes to last years 9-5 team, the first time a Thompson-coached WO-S team has ever finished a season without at least 10 wins.
"We had no senior leadership" said Thompson, "we played fourteen games and only won 9, that's unacceptable. The seniors didn't know if they wanted to play the game or play around. If nothing else we'll be a better team this year with our attitude."
From 2014 to 2017 WO-S was a mini-dynasty under Thompson.
Going 57-5 during that time with four consecutive trips to Dallas, winning back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. Last season Thompson won his 100th game at WO-S. The 21-14 win over Jasper brought his career winning percentage as Mustang head coach to .854 (100-17).
"We've been to the fourth round every year since I've been here," said Thompson.
WO-S brings a fresh movement into this season as they return 16 lettermen with eight starting positions. Their main strength will be the line with OG's Jordan Garrett, Darby Jones and OT Quincy Ledet. An unlikely star could be sophomore RB Elijah Gales who rushed for almost 500 yards in 2018.
"We're primarily a junior ball club," said Thompson.
"The jury is still out. We don't know if they can perform or not, they have the athletic ability. I'm going to find out if they have the desire."
In what is typically the area's top defense the Mustangs bring back LB Tyrone Brown and DT Shemar Manaway. Thompson is not quite ready to declare this years defense a dominate force.
"Most of our experience comes up front in the 'forcing' unit," said Thompson.
"Our philosophy is 'stop the run, control the pass' and we don't know yet about our secondary. Last year we started a sophomore and a freshman and gave up 15 points a game. We normally give up less than 10."
There's a feeling West Orange-Stark will be ready by August 30 when they travel to Nederland to start the season.
"We'll be a better team this year," said Thompson, "if nothing else we'll have a better attitude."
PODCAST: Cornel Thompson of West Orange-Stark Football