"It's a great day to be a Chaparral."
Like most rivalry games, the date is always circled on our calendars. You may not know which team plays week to week, but you certainly know when Westlake plays Lake Travis. This year, it’s Friday, October 13, 2017. This edition will mark the 12th time these two programs have faced off in the regular season. In their 11 regular season meetings, Lake Travis has won 9 straight and the Cavs made it 10 consecutive wins thanks to a 51-3 playoff win in the 6A Region IV final a year ago. That said, the streak may last from year-to-year, but the teams are always different.
“The 2017 Lake Travis Cavaliers and the 2017 Westlake Chaparrals haven’t played each other before,” Westlake Head Coach Todd Dodge said. “We’re both similar in that we don’t rebuild programs, we reload them, but that’s where it stops. That’s what’s great about this game of high school football. Each year is different.”
As we preview this year’s Battle of the Lakes, know that both teams have a common opponent in the Hays Rebels, a team that might be the best one-win team in Central Texas. The six opponents the Rebels faced this season now have a combined record of 27 wins to just seven losses.
“No one looked past Hays,” Dodge said. “All we had to do is turn on the video and show our players. We were not surprised at their talent and they had our attention from the get go.”
The Rebels established their backfield talent early. Ty Mayberry rushed for 100 yards against Lake Travis in one half of football two weeks ago, while the combination of both Mayberry and Cade Powell hurt Westlake in the passing game. Hays kept the game within reach with both the Cavs and the Chaps trailing Lake Travis by as few as five points in the fourth quarter and outscoring Westlake 14-7 in the final frame. A timely touchdown pass from Taylor Anderson to Nakia Watson sealed the 10-point win. The Westlake defense only allowed 93 Rebel rushing yards, but Mayberry and Powell proved to be a deadly combination as pass catchers out of the backfield. They combined for 99 receiving yards and a score.
Xavier Martinez fired three touchdown passes and racked up 265 yards passing, but the Chaps limited multiple explosive plays.
“At some point as the game progresses, you realize that a team like that is going to move the ball,” Dodge said. “It may not have been pretty, but we can allow our offensive line and our running game to control the ball and sometimes that’s the best way to keep teams off the field.”
Dodge is referring to the 246 yards gained on the ground against the Rebel defense. Nakia Watson acquired 30 of the team’s 44 carries and earned every inch of his 158 yards and two scores. Watson can credit his two rushing scores to the passing game that set up both short yardage touchdown runs.
While Jake Ramos flourished in his return to the starting line-up against Vandegrift, it was sophomore Mason Mangum who showcased his pass catching ability during the 34-24 win over Hays. Mangum hauled in nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown all while having issues keeping his helmet about him.
“Mason is one of the more gifted runners we have,” Dodge said. “He’s so smooth that it doesn’t look like he’s running that fast. He’s tough and he played faster last Friday night. Playing fast and having confidence go hand in hand and it showed up for Mason in his performance.”
Lake Travis enjoyed a bye week to gear up for the Battle of the Lakes and with four straight wins prior to their open date, they look as good as ever in the passing game. The football field isn’t the only place Chaparral fans will see Garrett Wilson. The silky smooth junior receiver is quite the basketball player, but his seven catches for 225 yards and four touchdown receptions against Hays turned heads. Wilson and newcomer Hudson Card have emerged as impressive threats for the high-powered Cavalier offense. The two have combined for 65 receptions, 1,314 yards, and 13 scores through just five games.
Matthew Baldwin has waited patiently in Charlie Brewer’s shadow and now, he has the keys to the red and black sports car every high school senior wants. Although the Cavalier quarterback shoes run big, Baldwin has the makings of yet another successful Lake Travis signal caller. The Colorado State commit is six-foot three inches tall and weighs 195 pounds and resembles more of a pro-style drop back passer.
“I’ve had guys that have played behind players of the year before,” Dodge said. “I had one in Greg McElroy and those guys have something burning inside of them. It’s a sense of urgency and Matthew seems to have that.”
McElroy backed up Southlake Carroll’s Chase Daniel his sophomore and junior seasons under Dodge. In his one year as a starter, the former Alabama quarterback guided the 2005 Dragons to a 16-0 record while he threw for 4,636 yards, 56 touchdowns, and helped Carroll secure the 5A State Title. Baldwin has that similar task in where he wants that same type of hardware he received in 2016, but as the starting quarterback.
While the offense gets majority credit in Lake Travis’ dominance in their back-to-back trips to the state championship game in 2015 and 2016, it was their defense that was unprecedented; especially in 2016. Following the playoff win over Westlake, the Cavalier defense allowed a total of 174 points in 14 games. In 2017, the numbers tell a different story. After surrendering 65 points to Judson in their only loss, the Cavaliers allowed 31 points to Steele, 45 points to Jesuit, and 34 to Hays. In five games, Lake Travis has allowed 175 total points.
Lake Travis bounced back after allowing 759 total yards and 65 points to Judson with an epic win over Steele that saw senior Cameron Dicker drill a 37-yard field goal in the closing seconds. The offense rolled out 65 points against Jesuit, shut out Hendrickson 48-0, and put up 60 on Hays. All the wins and points aside, Lake Travis must contain the Westlake rushing attack if they want to keep the streak alive. The Cavaliers are giving up 268.2 rushing yards per game and that plays into the read option game with Taylor Anderson and Nakia Watson.
One match-up to look for is Westlake’s pressure opportunities on defense. In the past, Lake Travis quarterbacks have been more mobile. Matthew Baldwin is a true drop back passer. He makes quick decisions and is accurate with his passes. This will be the fastest defensive front Baldwin has faced and the 2017 Chaparral Defense come armed with 14 sacks and a tendency to put opposing quarterbacks in difficult situations.
Finally, the streak is a number and like other stats, they don’t carry over. While being aware of that stat is acceptable, it doesn’t lead to wins or losses in the moment. It’s just a number.
“Just because Lake Travis has won these games doesn’t mean they’ll get 14 points to start this one,” Dodge said. “We’ll be who we are, physical and unselfish.”
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 Reed Dickerson, 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.
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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 14th 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.
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