"It's a great day to be a Chaparral."
Fourth quarter, 37 seconds remained, and the 2017 Westlake Chaparrals were facing a 31-30 deficit that seemed insurmountable. The kick-off return left the Chaparral offense with only 30 seconds to run an accelerated version of the two-minute drill. On third down, Taylor Anderson flipped a screen pass to Nakia Watson who had significant running room. Watson followed blockers to the Vandegrift 23-yard line before he was tackled. Todd Dodge called an emphatic time-out as he raced downfield as if former Texas Longhorn head coach Fred Akers had hacked Dodge’s headset and called a 1984 quarterback draw.
Dodge checked his inventory; six seconds, one time-out, and a junior kicker that had already made three field goals that evening. As the field goal unit trotted on the field, the collective crowd rose to the occasion. A miss would mean Vandegrift could solidify their arrival as a legitimate 6A program and a 1-0 record in district play. A make would serve as one of the very few games in Westlake football history that featured a come from behind win in the final drive.
“We knew instantly what we wanted to do,” Dodge said. Gabo had already made a 40 yarder earlier and we didn’t waste any time.”
John Oehrline delivered the ball to Steven Crider as calmly as he’d done 36 times before this snap. Crider put down the 37th snap of the trio’s season. The ball was 40 yards away as Gabo Lozano added to Oehrline’s snap and Crider’s hold. Ballgame. Westlake had won.
What you may not know is that this wasn’t the first time Lozano’s teammates were happy he made a 40-yard field goal.
“We always wondered why Coach Dodge put Gabo out there in practice,” Jake Ramos said. “We run sprints and coach will make Gabo hit from 40 yards. If he misses, we run more sprints. If he makes it, sprints are over.”
It seems the Westlake coaching staff will find ways to simulate pressure situations in practice. Thankfully, the Westlake Nation enjoyed a district opening win against a Vandegrift team that will be a tough out in District 25-6A play. In four games, the Westlake defense had allowed just 31 total points and 28 of those 31 occurred during game one at College Station. The Vipers scored their 31st point against the Chaps with 37 seconds left in regulation.
On the flip side, a normally dominant offensive line struggled against Vandegrift’s talented defensive front and the Chaparral run game suffered. The bulk of Nakia Watson’s 110 yards rushing came on a 76-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The run game struggles allowed the passing game to emerge and Taylor Anderson delivered. The junior quarterback completed 17 of 29 passing attempts for 292 yards and two touchdown passes. Jake Ramos returned to the starting line up with authority, catching seven of Anderson’s passes for 96 yards and the game’s first score.
“We knew we had to step up,” Ramos said. “They were keying on Nakia and we had to find ways to get everyone the ball.”
The final drive featured creativity in the form of a screen pass to Watson and Dodge allowed his offensive linemen to be athletic and get downfield in a hurry to spring an explosive play. The goal was the 23-yard line and Nakia’s run after the catch ended at the Viper 23.
The calm before the Battle of the Lakes is a trip down I-35 to Bob Shelton Stadium to take on a Hays team that challenged Lake Travis a week ago before succumbing to the Cavalier offense in the fourth quarter. The Rebels made every effort to put 25-6A on notice that they were not the pushover they were a year ago. Despite the 1-4 record, Hays managed to make the Cavalier faithful remain in their seats a bit longer than planned last Friday night. Lake Travis held a 29-21 lead at the half and an 11-point lead headed into the fourth quarter before the defending state champs outscored Hays 21-6.
Hays delivered haymakers following Lake Travis’ first two touchdowns coming right back and answering Cavalier scores with two of their own. Running back Thailand Mayberry capped Hays’ first scoring drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. The Rebel quarterback Xavier Martinez followed with a nine-yard pass to Bayler Jordan to tie the game at 14. Mayberry gained 100 of his 126 yards rushing in the first half and turned in two rushing touchdowns to keep the Cavs within the Rebels’ reach.
“This is the best offensive line we’ve seen from Hays,” coach Lee Munn said. “They’re big and they have experience and it’s why they’re dangerous.”
The Hays front five features three returning starters from 2016 in Phil McSorely, Ben Hoskins, and Lyndon Wilson. Collectively, the Hays line averages six-feet-two and 246 pounds. Mayberry has enjoyed the space. The junior running back has rushed for 434 yards on 86 carries and Mayberry’s found the end-zone five times with two scores coming against Lake Travis.
In 2016, Hays struggled to find a quarterback and the Rebels were forced to use multiple signal callers prior to their trip to Westlake. Xavier Martinez has delivered consistency at the position for Neal LaHue’s unconventional offense. Despite the four interceptions, Martinez has completed 70 percent of his throws for 902 yards and six touchdown passes.
“Coach LaHue has found a way to use his personnel in a unique way,” Dodge said. “As a coach, keeping kids focused after a big win last week and keeping their minds right before next week is normally a challenge. Hays’ play this season has made that part of my job a little easier this week because that’s how good they are.”
Defensively, the Rebels return all three defensive line starters. Justin Rodriguez, Ryan Leal, and Zane Kuykendall have made the opposition earn their wins. The trio have combined for 69 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and three sacks. As a team, the Rebel defense have amassed 24 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and sacked opposing quarterbacks eight times and two of those sacks came last week against Lake Travis.
The weakness in Hays’ game lies in the turnover numbers. The Rebels have only managed three takeaways in five games and if they want to stay with Westlake, Hays will have to force that issue and take chances against the Chaparral passing game. The Rebels ran 84 plays a week ago and picked up 21 first downs so don’t expect a welcome mat at the gates of Bob Shelton Stadium.
Our tailgate show begins live at 7pm 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 Jake Ramos, our Chap of the Week. As you leave Bob Shelton 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 on our new home for Westlake Football, KBVO-TV. Tonight's broadcast will air on Saturday, October 6th 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