While the goals of perfection in a regular season and an outright district championship were achieved in the 55-14 win over Vista Ridge, the celebration didn’t last too long. The district title had eluded Westlake for six seasons, but the 2017 Chaparrals added a sorely missed piece of hardware to the trophy case and now, the final phase of the season has arrived, the playoffs. While, the Chaparrals enjoyed the win, the team went right back to work on Monday with the mentality that the district championship and a 10-0 record are now the past and the attention is on the present playoff opponent, the MacArthur Brahmas.
Now that the playoff scenarios are firm realities, the Westlake Chaparrals welcome the MacArthur Brahmas. MacArthur is led by 7th year head coach Ben Cook. Despite the 25-46 career record, Cook’s teams have made the playoffs three of the last four seasons. Cook has spent nearly his entire coaching career in San Antonio. After a 10-year stint as an assistant at Churchill, Cook joined the staff at Roosevelt for the 2009 season before being named the offensive coordinator at MacArthur in 2010. A season later, then Brahma head coach Van Fuschak left for Antonian Prep and Cook was promoted to his first head coaching job.
Outside of MacArthur’s potent offensive attack, the Brahmas’ largest weapon might be team resilience. Through six games, MacArthur had a record of 1-5 and all five losses were to eventual playoff teams. However, a 52-42 win over Madison jumpstarted a four-game winning streak that saw the Brahmas defeat Madison, Roosevelt, Churchill, and Lee consecutively. With a 4-2 record, MacArthur finished third in District 26-6A behind Johnson and Reagan.
Senior quarterback Tyler Vitt is at the helm of his team’s success in the last four weeks. Vitt is a true dual threat behind center. As a passer, he’s completed 197 of his 287 throws and 24 of those tosses have gone for touchdowns. As a runner, he leads all Brahmas in yardage with 969 and scoring as he’s found the end zone seven times in 2017.
Vitt averages nearly 29 passing attempts per game and like Westlake, MacArthur knows how to spread the wealth. Wide receivers Ethan Gottschalk, Cameron Acker, and Lanir Shabazz all have a minimum of 40 receptions. Gottschalk and Shabazz have combined for 1,309 yards receiving which accounts for 57 percent of Vitt’s 2,289 passing yards. Gottschalk leads the trio in scoring with seven touchdown receptions.
The Brahma defense has allowed just over 33 points per game this season and during the four-game winning streak, the defense still allowed an average of 26.5 points per game. In that same stretch, the MacArthur offense scored 44.5 points per game and eclipsed 50 points in back-to-back games in their wins over Madison and Roosevelt. The offense put up a minimum of 31 points in all four wins to close out district play.
Despite the yardage and points allowed, the Brahma defense is armed with top-notch defensive players who can take the football away. MacArthur forced 15 turnovers in 10 games. Defensive backs Kahjah Matthews and Giancarlo Martinez secured eight turnovers combined with seven interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The strength of the MacArthur defense is up front. The man in the middle of the Brahma defense is Pete Smith. The senior stands at six-feet-two inches and weighs an even 300 pounds and is one of the largest defenders Westlake has seen this season.
If there’s a key to Tyler Vitt’s success throwing and running the football, it’s the MacArthur offensive line. The Brahma is an appropriate description when the average man weighs in at 255 pounds. The biggest bull of them all is left tackle Frederick Jones who checks in at six-feet-five inches tall and weighs 298 pounds. The offensive line play is vital to MacArthur’s success, especially in the last four games. The Brahmas are averaging 434.4 yards per game and it’s due in large part to their ability to run the football and keep defenders away from Tyler Vitt.
Westlake will once again enjoy the opportunity to host a home playoff game. Tonight, wear red, arrive early, and join the spirit line at 7:10pm. The line will form from the field house to the entrance to Ebbie Neptune Field. The road to the 2017 State Championship starts in Westlake.
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 Owen O'Neill, 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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