The West Orange Stark Mustangs had another banner season in 2012 going 13 and 1 before being eliminated in the regional finals by eventual state champion Navasota. Head Coach Cornel Thompson evaluated last season for the Mustangs. "We had a number of people that were returning especially on the defensive side of the ball and some on the offensive side of the ball with experience," Thompson said. "It was a great run."

One advantage of advancing that far in the playoffs, Coach Thompson admitted, is it gave the coaches at West Orange Stark a chance to look at younger Mustangs brought up to the varsity. "Those extra days of workouts especially for your young kids, that looms huge," Thompson explained. "We got four extra weeks of work with some of the young kids out here, so you start looking off of those workouts who may be your players for the next year that would be coming back and maybe what positions they would be in," Thompson concluded.

Last season Coach Thompson moved Eddie Dyer from his defensive line coach to the Mustangs’ offensive coordinator position. With Dyer running the offense the Mustangs won 13 football games. Thompson chuckled if it’s not broke don’t fix it, so West Orange Stark will stay with the spread formation on offense, and emphasize running the football. For the first time in school history Coach Thompson exuded that the Mustangs offensive line will not have to be completely fixed. The Mustangs return Paul Hebert at tackle and Josh Orebo at the other tackle. Also, Jacob Hryhorchuk who benefitted from the extra four weeks of workouts with the varsity during last season’s playoff run looks to move into Orebo’s old position at center. All three should weigh-in at about 240 to 250 pounds which is big for West Orange Stark linemen.

History shows outstanding athletes at the skilled positions for the West Orange Stark Mustangs. Coach Thompson believes he has another quality player at running back this season in Chris James who transferred to West Orange Stark last season from Ozen. Finding a replacement for three-year starter Jimmy Salter at quarterback is a bigger question for Thompson. Dylan Sterling who is a sophomore is one of the candidates and has good blood lines being the son of former West Orange Stark standout and Texas A&M star Chris Cole. Last year’s backup to Salter is Chase Rutledge, and he hopes to be the starter this season. Whichever candidate doesn’t get the quarterback job will still probably see plenty of playing time according to Thompson, Sterling as a wide receiver and Rutledge as a slotback if they take care of their business. Thompson added that the coaches are still looking for a go-to receiver to step forward for the Mustangs.

Defense has been the lynch pin for the success of the Mustangs over the decades. Last season was no exception, in fact maybe more of an exclamation point to the "Chain-Link-Defense" which registered nine shutouts. Coach Thompson regrets much of that outstanding unit graduated with only two returning starters back this year in Deionte Thompson at safety and Octavious Crosson at noseguard. Thompson is optimistic the Mustangs’ defense eventually will be pretty fair, but they need some of their young guys to grow up.

With the start of the 2013 football season looming just ahead, Coach Thompson felt the offense for the first time in a long time may have to take the lead and help keep the Mustangs defense off the field while it matures. Thompson is really concerned about the defensive end and linebacker positions where West Orange Stark has a lack of experience due to graduation. Of course finding a starting quarterback will be the top priority on the offensive side of the ball for Coach Thompson.

-Dan Perrine, KOGT-