"It's a great day to be a Chaparral."
Chaparral Stadium was alive with a playoff buzz last Friday night as the crowd awaited the long-time rivalry match up with Bowie. Both the birds and the dogs touted undefeated records and talent in spades at all positions. The dominance started almost immediately as senior Thomas Rousseau picked off Trinidad Sanders' pass on the second play from scrimmage. The first of four interceptions gave the Westlake offense strong field position, but a double ejection gave way to an immediate opportunity for both Bowie corner Audric Santiago and Chaparral wide receiver Michael Granson. Todd Dodge's play calling did not waiver given the unanticipated personnel change and Taylor Anderson found Granson in the corner of the end zone to cap the game's first touchdown drive.
Jackson Lord would give Bowie brief hope with a 94 yard kick-off return for a touchdown to tie the game, but Westlake answered with Taylor Anderson running for his first of two rushing touchdowns in a game that saw the red-headed quarterback throw for three touchdowns. The homecoming victory marked the second time in 2017 that both Nakia Watson and Anderson rushed for over 100 yards respectively as the Chaparrals plowed through Bowie's defense for 292 total rushing yards.
While 49 points went on the scoreboard, the Chaparral defense deserved top billing. Halftime saw a 21-7 Westlake lead, but the 14 point difference was a tad misleading. Bowie did not pick up a first down on offense without the aid of a Westlake penalty. As the Westlake Marching Band prepped for the homecoming show, Bowie had only gained 29 rushing yards and Sanders hadn't completed a pass in eight attempts. The Bulldog offense was stifled in the second half even with Matthew Wheeler subbing in for Sanders. Wheeler connected on a few big pass plays, but 157 yards of total offense is all Bowie could muster with the dagger coming by way of Drew Webster's pick six. Despite the many defensive numbers that proved Westlake's dominance, 0-7 on third down stands out as the stat of the game. The Chaparral defense did not allow Bowie a third down conversion in their homecoming win last week.
Vandegrift poses yet another unique challenge for the Westlake defense. Despite the 2-2 record, Drew Sanders' Vipers have rolled in back-to-back wins against Killeen and a highly athletic Harker Heights squad. With only one returning offensive lineman from the 2016 team, Vandegrift has been on the search for cohesiveness while battling the bumps and bruises that come with playing high profile programs like Odessa Permian and Cedar Park.
"We're a work in progress," Viper head coach Drew Sanders said. "We've got guys that really want to be great up front and they're getting better with every week. We've shaken things up a bit and we're starting to see results."
Those results come in the form of the Vandegrift passing attack lead by senior quarterback Justin Moore. In the last two wins, Moore has thrown for 496 yards and found Viper receivers six times for scores. Speaking of receivers, Vandegrift has quite the cast. The average height of a Viper receiver is six-foot-two and the core of the receiver room is senior Peyton Ausley. With four of the 10 touchdown catches, Ausley leads the talented group with 28 receptions and an astonishing 388 yards in just four games. When defenders zero in on Ausley, Moore turns to Justin Florence and his 23 receptions and three touchdown grabs. Reese Watson is a notable weapon as well. Look for the junior wide receiver to cause issues underneath to make plays in open space.
“Justin [Moore] is a gamer,” Sanders said. “He’s our starting quarterback, he’s a point guard on our basketball team, and he’s getting looks from Ivy League schools for his baseball ability.”
That kind of athleticism and his baseball mind favors a short memory when it comes to failure on the football field. Baseball is a game of failure and that allows Moore to work from offensive series to offensive series like how he would approach at-bats in a baseball game.
Defensively, Drew Sanders speaks with the tone of a proud papa.
"They're a special group of players," Sanders said. "We have so many guys that are just good high school football players. They may not be the biggest, the strongest, or the fastest, but they're smart and it makes us very tough mentally."
Todd Dodge echoed those sentiments especially with three year starter at safety, Cole Walther.
"You can see immediately how crucial a player like Cole is to why they're successful on defense," Dodge said. "You look at Cole and I see guys like Matthew Sams and Barrett Chambers who've been leaders for us. Cole is that guy for Vandegrift."
Two aspects you'll notice immediately about the Viper defensive front, their names and their speed. Osorachukwu Ifesinachukwu and Varun Kalyanapuram might be a mouthful for yours truly, but these two might make you pay attention to pronunciations. Ifesinachukwu has tallied seven tackles for loss to go along with seven sacks in four games. While the obvious attention will be on the Westlake rushing attack, pressuring Taylor Anderson will be the responsibility of both Ifesinachukwu and Myles Hammon. Together, the defensive ends have racked up 81 tackles.
A punt block was the difference in last year's inaugural game between Westlake and Vandegrift. The Vipers were 1-3 a year ago and Westlake had come off a big win over Bowie.
"You have to give kids a history lesson so they understand who our opponents are," Dodge said. "We have great respect for Vandegrift because they're very similar to us. They have great community support, like us. They've known success, so they have our full attention."
Although varsity football began in 2010, Vandegrift enjoyed playoff berths in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. From 2013 through last Friday, the Vipers have won 40 games and they'll look for the first district test against the fifth ranked Chaparrals.
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 Keaton Jones, 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
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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 30th 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