"It's a great day to be a Chaparral."
Following the 52-3 dismantling of the Pflugerville Panthers, one would think that scoring 118 points in two games wouldn't yield much work in the improvement category. While the run game was once again in high gear, the passing attack wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Westlake made a clear commitment to feature the pass in the third quarter to install more confidence in both the quarterback and receiving corps. Of the 23 passes, only 12 were completed, however, most of the completions came in the third quarter and by game's end, seven receivers caught at least one pass.
Coaches will often remark that the sign of any good football team is defined by that team's ability to run the ball and play defense. The first three games have certainly demonstrated that the 2017 Chaparrals can run the ball. Behind the offensive line, Nakia Watson and Taylor Anderson can execute effectively whether the play ends in a two yard gain for a first down or a 78 yard touchdown run. Through the first 12 quarters, the Chaps are sporting an average of 301 rushing yards per game. Watson has capped nine scoring drives with powerful runs. Anderson has added three rushing touchdowns matching his number of touchdown passes.
Defensively speaking, Westlake has only allowed three points in the last two games and Tony Salazar's defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since College Station. Six sacks and 21 tackles behind the line of scrimmage tell the story of pressure. An asset that forces opposing quarterbacks to throw before they wish and offensive coordinators to veer off course as to go around the threat.
"Our defense works so hard," Senior Steven Crider said. "It's not just the work they put into practice, it's the work they put in off the field. No one watches more film than David Neil. They just know what's coming before it even happens. They're just a bunch of tough nasty dudes that want to fly to the football."
Chances are, you'll hear the same sentiments from the Bowie locker room, but you'll also hear similar praise from opposing coaching staffs, especially with the Bulldog defensive backfield.
"They're tough, athletic, and well coached," Defensive Coordinator Tony Salazar said. "It starts with their secondary and it's the key to why they've been successful. Those guys can cover anybody."
Bowie's defense is fueled by returning starters and experienced players and their secondary has zero leash laws. Senior Josh Smythe-Macauley is the team's leading tackler. Both Smythe-Macauley and Pierce Withers are captains and corner Terance Durst has two of the team's three interceptions. That trio along with Quintavious Buckner are directly responsible for the opposition's pedestrian 74.3 average passing yards per game.
The secondary's performance allows the Bulldog defensive front the ability to focus their efforts to slowing opposing rushing attacks. With 28 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, Defensive Coordinator Gary Pittman knows the value of pressure as well. Expect Bowie to put Taylor Anderson into position to throw into their secondary before he wishes to. Should Bowie force the Chaparral offense into passing situations, that's when the pressure will come. The key for Westlake will continue to be effective on first down. The goal? Five yards or more on first down plays.
Bowie has endured bumps and bruises regarding personnel, but those setbacks have led to found talent at the quarterback position with the emergence of Trinidad Sanders. The six-foot-two 175-pound sophomore has played a pivotal role in Bowie's success in their first three games. He's completed nearly 59 percent of his passes and only one of those 46 passing attempts found its way into an opponent's hands. Five of Sanders' 27 completions have gone for touchdowns, but it's his athletic ability that jumps off the film.
"Trin is a gifted athlete who really loves playing football," Bowie Offensive Coordinator Ty Branyon said. "While he's a great athlete and football player, he is also a tremendous kid with great character and a positive attitude."
High praise from his position coach and as a former Bulldog quarterback, Branyon knows exactly how Sanders' shoes feel.
While Trin's 550 yards passing is impressive, it's his 220 yards rushing that supports the Bowie rushing attack which features Kyle Carter in a starring role. Both have combined for 521 yards rushing, eight touchdowns, and no matter who gets the call to run, this duo averages 6.7 yards per carry. If there's a weakness, it's protecting the football. Sanders has fumbled the ball once in 34 carries while Carter has coughed up the ball three times in 44 rushing attempts.
Westlake's 35-21 win over Bowie at Burger Stadium a year ago was a statement game for the 2016 Chaparrals. The dominant performance proved to not only Bowie, but District 25-6A that Westlake could win without Sam Ehlinger behind center. Last year's victory introduced Central Texas to the talents of Nakia Watson. He ran 32 times, gained 207 yards, and scored three touchdowns.
"He's an old school football player," Tony Salazar said. "He's not like a lot of players you see today. He doesn't beat his chest or look to the stands to see who's watching him. He just hands the ball to the official like he's been there before and he knows he'll be back."
Watson is quick to give credit where credit is due.
"Nakia shares the love with everyone," Salazar said. "He's a quiet leader that plays hard every day. He realizes that without the guys up front, his backs, and the receivers downfield, that we wouldn't be as successful as we've been."
That example of unselfish play from the one that gets most publicity travels to the rest of the roster.
"We know if we do our jobs, good things are going to happen," Luke Wilkin said. "We may not get our names in the paper, but we know if we do things right, Nakia will have a chance to score on any play we run."
Even running backs that share the backfield understand the attitude.
"We might get a carry or two per game, but Coach Dodge always tells us about the benefit of being unselfish, Steven Crider said. "The running back room has really picked up on that attitude that the offensive line has. We have to pull the rope and it's really fun when it all works and we see Nakia break off big runs, hurdling over tacklers for a score."
While honoring the rivalry between the Chaparrals and the Bulldogs, this game allows for a unique experience before district play begins. Whether it's the energy of a homecoming game, the buzz of two undefeated teams, or a sellout crowd, Bowie and Westlake will both enjoy the feel of a playoff atmosphere and continue to carve out their respective identities.
Our tailgate show begins live at 7pm on AM-1300 The ZONE. Listen live to Getting Defensive with Tony Salazar. Make sure you stay tuned to our halftime coverage as we recap the first half highlights. Our halftime features the thoughts of Steven Crider, our Chap of the Week. As you leave Chaparral Stadium, let us join you on The Drive Home as we review the game, run the stats, and hand out our own helmet stickers.
THE WESTLAKE CHAP APP
Head to the App Store on any Apple device. The Westlake Chap App can be downloaded on any iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, iPad Pro and iPod Touch. Listen to live coverage of Westlake Football all year long. Make sure to UPDATE your Chap App as we're rolling out a new and improved app that will feature ALL Westlake Sports Teams. Westlake football is live and at your fingertips with the Westlake Chap App.
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We hope you enjoyed our television coverage last Saturday evening on our new home for Westlake Football, KBVO-TV. Tonight's broadcast will air on Saturday, September 23rd at 7pm. Please check your provider for the correct channel. The game will also stream live at 7pm so if you wish to watch live from any device, you can. The link below will lead you to the game. Note the stream will not begin until 7pm on Saturday evening. Please share the link to as many fans as possible.
TV LIVE STREAM: http://kxan.tv/westlakechaps