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By James McAfee
BENJAMIN—The Benjamin Mustangs have bought into the new standard of excellence expected of them, according to Coach Shannon Waters. “They want to be champs again and are putting in the extra work necessary,” he added.
The Mustangs claimed their first district title in the last 32 years last season, finishing a shorten season with a 6-2 record, and return nearly everyone, resulting in Texas Football Magazine making them the favorites to repeat as District 8-1ADII champions along with a spot at 13th in the rankings, one behind neighbor Throckmorton.
Waters is optimistic based on impressive wins over Chillicothe (70-30) and Rule (67-22) last season.
However, a long playoff run might be out of the question as District 7-1ADII is the home of Motley County, ranked as the state favorite, along with Jayton, ranked ninth.
The Matadors scored a 52-6 win over the Mustangs in bi-district last season after losing the district title to the Jaybirds. believes the Mustangs can be more competitive this season by the time the playoffs start if his top players remain healthy
Even winning district again isn’t a lock as Rule also has high expectations, returning everyone from last season. Chillicothe also has plenty of players returning from its second-place finish, but a lack of numbers could be a deciding factor in any possible playoff spot. Harrold seems destined for another winless season.
Looking back at the previous 12 seasons, the Mustangs never had a winning season and always seemed to not have enough players to compete at the varsity level. They didn’t field teams in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and then went 0-3 in 2014. They did finish second and got into the playoffs in 2015, but then went 3-6, 1-7,3-7 and 2-7 the next four seasons.
Things did turn around dramatically in Waters’ third year at the helm and players and fans are now thinking how much better it is to be on the winning side.
Waters doesn’t really have anyone assisting him at practice, but Supt. Gordon Thomas does assist him at the games. “We tried to hire an assistant during the summer without any luck, Waters said.
The Mustangs should get off to a successful start in non-district, going up against Moran, which didn’t win a game last season. Then Coach Shannon Waters’ charges face a tough challenge in their next three games against Crowell, Aspermont and Northside before winding up non-district with games against Roby, Patton Springs and Gold-Burg.
Waters believes playing against better competition will only make the Mustangs stronger for the challenge of repeating as district champions.
With 18 boys out this season, Waters says the players will get a chance to do more one-on-one drills in practice. In addition, younger players will gain experience at the junior varsity level.
Brody White, who was named the 8-1A offensive MVP in 2020, returns as the spread back after establishing some impressive stats, passing for 1,500 yards and rushing for 500 more. “He’s a good leader and at making the right decisions on the field, “Water said.
Joining him in the backfield will be running back Dal Everson, who rushed for 800 yards, averaging 12 per carry, in the right games last season and John Wolfforth, who takes the snap and becomes a blocker after tossing the ball back to White.
Mario Silva was the top receiver, averaging 18.6 yards per reception. Joining him as a receiving threat will be Nicholas Ham at tight end while Nicholas Stovall will handle the job of snapping the football.
Defensively, the Mustangs will have leading tackler Stovall and Everson at defensive ends, Wolfforth at linebacker, Silva and Ham at corner backs and White as the safety.
Waters also expects Landon Wood and Dustin Cottingham to see a lot of action from off the bench.