Westlake’s undefeated 2017 season continued after the Chaparral defense shut down the star-studded Steele rushing attack which lead to a 28-14 win and a Region IV Championship. The Knight offense that averaged 245 yards rushing per game only managed 92 total yards last Saturday night at the Alamodome.
While Brenden Brady rushed for 101 yards on 26 carries, the game’s first touchdown was the only time the senior Rice commit found the end zone. Late turnovers in the second quarter allowed for second and third chances for Steele’s offense that saw freshman quarterback Wyatt Begeal tie the game with a four-yard touchdown run.
In what has become customary in these 2017 playoffs, the Chaparral offense made a statement in their first drive of the 3rd quarter. While Westlake’s opening drive was capped by Nakia Watson’s second rushing touchdown, it was the start that ignited the offense. After fumbling a punt, the Chaps needed a spark on special teams and that ignition switch was senior, Cary Andreo. The defensive back turned wide receiver, tried his hand at kick-off returns and delivered on a 40-yard return to set up the Westlake offense on a short field.
Armed with a 21-14 lead, the Chaps committed their fourth turnover in the fourth quarter when Jaylon Jones recovered a Nakia Watson fumble at the Westlake 44-yard line. The Knights moved nine yards in the first three plays following the fumble and geared up for a fourth down and one-yard play. In an attempt at misdirection, the Knights play call went right, but Begeal pitched left to Brady who couldn’t secure the ball. With the ball loose near midfield, Brady recovered, but on 4th down, the ball went to Westlake.
Watson shredded the Steele defense in one play that defined the Region IV Championship. Watson’s 50-yard run may not have been his longest from scrimmage, but it delivered the fatal blow to a Steele team that struggled in the second half. Behind the offensive line, Watson tallied his 11th start this season of 100 rushing yards or more in a game and finished with 189 yards on 27 carries.
As champions of Region IV, the Chaparrals will hit the road to face the Champion of Region III, the Cy-Fair Bobcats. The Cypress Fairbanks school district consists of 10 teams and they all play each other in a monstrous 17-6A round robin to earn their playoff spot. Most of the district lost out on their one and only non-district game due to the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey, but the Bobcats rolled through 17-6A with superb defense and a strong rushing attack.
Saturday’s State Semifinal will mark the second meeting between Westlake and Cy-Fair. That 1998 game saw Westlake cruise to a 41-14 win over the Bobcats. Cy-Fair has only advanced to Texas High School Football’s version of the final four once before. The 1985 Bobcats fell to the Permian Panthers 10-7. This year’s Cy-Fair squad is 13-0 and the Bobcats’ Region Championship win over Langham Creek tied the mark for most wins in a season in program history. A win over Westlake this weekend would take Cy-Fair to its first ever state final appearance.
Cy-Fair head coach Ed Pustejovsky will lead his Bobcats into Saturday’s semifinal with 28 playoff games under his belt. In his 14th season at the helm for Cy-Fair, Pustejovsky has amassed a career record of 114 wins and just 54 losses with a 19-9 playoff record.
Defensively, Cy-Fair is as legit as they come. The Bobcats are allowing a miniscule 11.5 points per game and just 66 rushing yards per game. That number is even less in their four-game playoff run as Cy-Fair has allowed just 10.5 points per game. Langham Creek and Cy-Woods are the only two teams to score more than 14 points against the Bobcat defense. Like their counterparts, the main Bobcat goals are to make the opposition one dimensional and score off turnovers. Cy-Fair has scored 84 points off turnovers in 2017, making protecting the football a top priority for Westlake following the four turnovers the Chaps surrendered to Steele.
In the middle of the defense is linebacker, Patrick Atkinson, who leads the Bobcats in tackles securing 96 in 13 games. Atkinson has been a beast in the backfield as well logging 15.5 tackles for loss to go along with six sacks. Joining him in the linebacking corps is Jace Bobo. He heads up the weak side and is the team’s second leading tackler. In tandem, Bobo, Atkinson, and hybrid linebacker Peyton Lewis have sacked opposing quarterbacks 19 times in 13 games. Erick Hallett can line up as a corner or switch to safety and create issues in the Westlake passing game. Hallett’s five interceptions leads the Bobcat defensive backfield and he’s had a knack for scoring on defense as well. In the Bobcats 41-14 first round win over Westside, Hallett returned a fumble for a score and returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown.
The box score doesn’t tell the true story behind Cy-Fair’s 31-14 win over Langham Creek. For starters, the two teams met in their final district game. At the time, both teams were 8-0 and vying for the district championship. While Cy-Fair defeated Langham Creek 30-21, the region final was close in the fourth quarter. After trailing 14-7 at the half, Langham Creek scored with nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter and trailed Cy-Fair 17-14. The Bobcat defense put Langham Creek on lock down and snagged two fourth quarter touchdowns off defensive stops.
Which brings us to the Cy-Fair offense featuring heavily recruited senior running back Trenton Kennedy. His four touchdowns a week ago put away the Lobos for the second time this season and secured Cy-Fair’s 13th win. Successful senior campaign doesn’t quite scratch the surface when it comes to describing Kennedy’s performance. In four playoff games, Kennedy has rushed for 588 yards and nine scores. Like Brenden Brady, the Chaparral defense will once again have their hands full with Kennedy as he’s averaged 147 yards rushing per game in four win-or-go-home scenarios. Kennedy’s 182 yards and four touchdowns against Langham Creek marked a career playoff high for the senior Bobcat.
Like Steele, Cy-Fair hasn’t asked much of their senior quarterback. The success up front on the offensive line and the Bobcat rushing attack has allowed Cam Arnold the freedom to control the pace of play. Arnold marches into his sixth playoff start on Saturday completing 66 percent of his passes. The Northwestern State commit has fired 16 touchdown passes to go along with his 1,784 passing yards. If there’s a blemish in Arnold’s playoff performance, it’s the three interceptions in four games.
Once again, a Westlake opponent’s quarterback will be the deciding factor in a playoff game. In the 28-14 win over Steele, Westlake held Wyatt Begeal to just 71 yards passing. This week, the Chaparrals face a more seasoned signal caller that will look to keep the football away from Taylor Anderson and Nakia Watson. While dominating on defense in 2017, two telling stats emerge in favor of the Bobcat offense. Cy-Fair’s average time of possession is just north of 26 minutes. Cy-Fair’s third down conversion rate suggests the Bobcats know how to keep the chains moving. Cy-Fair has converted on third down 47 percent of the time. If the game is close at halftime, look for the third quarter to be a crucial ingredient to a Chaparral win. Cy-Fair has yet to allow a point in the third quarter in four playoff wins.
Saturday’s game will not be televised live or tape delayed this week. The State Semifinal will be carried live on radio in Austin on AM-1300 The Zone. We’ll also have live audio available on the Westlake Chap App, our broadcast website WestlakeChaps.com, and our Chap Signal inside NRG Stadium. If you wish to see this game live, head to NRG on Saturday. See you in Houston.
Our tailgate show begins live at 2:30pm on AM-1300 The ZONE. Listen live to No Huddle with Todd Dodge. Make sure you stay tuned to our halftime coverage as we recap the first half highlights. Our halftime features the thoughts of Garrett Aylor, our Chap of the Week. As you leave NRG Stadium, let us join you on The Drive Home as we review the game, run the stats, and hand out our own helmet stickers.
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We hope you enjoyed our television coverage last Saturday evening. The Region IV Final was Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew's first ever live television broadcast. Our sincerest thanks to the TEC student film crew and congratulations to our seniors on 14 amazing broadcasts this season.
We've enjoyed our partnership with KBVO-TV and hope we will continue to showcase the best television coverage of high school football in 2018. Our thanks to KXAN Vice President and General Manager Eric Lassberg and Production Manager Korey Wisland for their support. I'd also like to extend my personal gratitude to David Poole, Jeff Strange, Dale Baker, and the entire TEC team. Each week, these Westlake students amazed the most seasoned television professionals. Your effort, positive attitude, talent, and hard work are truly appreciated.