Joe Taylor|Westlake Nation
The 2019 football season marks the sixth season in the Todd Dodge era as he and his talented coaches embark on yet another quest for a state championship. Practice doesn’t begin until August and there’s already a buzz around the field house about the future of Westlake. Taylor Anderson provided incredible play and leadership during his record setting career, but when an injury during the third round of the playoffs ended his senior campaign, Westlake fans saw the future at quarterback in juniors Kirkland Michaux and Drew Willoughby. Both led the Chaps to a Region IV Final win in 2018 to propel Westlake into the State Semifinal in consecutive seasons. While Willoughby and Michaux are the focal points behind center, a third challenger has emerged in future sophomore Cade Klubnik. All three will compete for the starting job come August.
As it was in 2018, Westlake will return just one starter to the offensive line. Connor Halverson looks to improve on his Second Team All-District selection in 2018 as he is set to lead the line in 2019. Aiden Kinnaird had a strong spring and will look to add even more size to the offensive front.
In what was once a young receiver corps two seasons ago is now one of the most dangerous collection of experienced athletes in District 25-6A. 2018 First Team All-District wideout and Arkansas commit Mason Mangum returns to lead a group that includes District Honorable Mention Jackson Coker and Ryan Lindley. Mangum not only shined on the gridiron with 55 receptions for 1,146 yards and 18 touchdowns, he also took silver in the long jump and competed in both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles in the UIL State Track Meet.
Jackson Coker returns as a seasoned two-year veteran receiver and the future senior snagged 40 receptions for seven touchdowns in 2018. In addition to his valuable catches, Coker is regarded by coaches and teammates alike for his physical play in the blocking game.
“A guy like Jackson [Coker] is so pivotal for our success in both the passing game and the run game,” Todd Dodge said. “He makes us better by playing well without the ball.”
Many thought the 2017 Chaparral defense was arguably the best in school history, but Defensive Coordinator Tony Salazar’s 2018 squad turned in mind boggling numbers. Westlake did not allow a point in six of their 15 games in 2018. Two of those shutouts were playoff wins and the Chaps held opponents to an average of just 8.9 points per game. The 2019 defense will feature veteran safety Sage Luther who returns for his third season as a starter. Luther has turned in 162 total tackles and seven interceptions in his first two seasons in the defensive backfield. The 2018 25-6A First Team All-District safety will have good company returning as the 2018 District 25-6A Defensive Newcomer of the Year, Leo Lowin brought size and physical play to the corner position. Lowin’s five interceptions led the team in 2018 and with a healthy Lucas Mireur, Westlakewill be a challenge for opposing quarterbacks.
Trellis Collins, David Neil and William Robertson may not be returning to the defensive line in 2019, but Bobby Duncum will continue to grow the legacy of the Chaparral defensive front. Duncum recorded 35 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks in his junior season and looks primed to lead the line with Austin McClendon who saw significant playing time in 2018.
Westlake secured back-to-back undefeated District Championships in 2017 and 2018. In those two seasons, the Chaps competed in 30 football games and lost just three of those contests. The 2019 season begins on August 30th as Westlake hosts Belton at Chaparral Stadium.