Photo via John Glaser, TexasHSFootball.com

 

Lake Travis definitely did not start the season off looking like a title contender. Dropping a game to Converse Judson and needing overtime to beat Cibolo Steele aren’t bad things, at least not individually. However, those are the kinds of teams that you need to beat in order to even make it to the title game, and the closeness of those games combined with the surprising loss to Judson had some, including myself, wondering for a long time if LT was really as improved.

The Cavaliers proved every single doubter wrong and then some.

Those two games were the anomaly in a dominating season. When the 2016 version of the Cavaliers won, they didn’t just win, they beat you into the turf, invited you to get up again, then beat you further into the turf. They were merciless, relentless, and terrifying in a way that can only be described by the only time at the state title games I remember hearing a band. It was LT’s band, and they were playing the Imperial March. By no means is the Lake Travis football team the “bad guy”, but they dang sure do look like him.

In a way, that encompasses LT’s play: a bunch of bad dudes. Their defining characteristic was their athleticism, a staggering amount of speed from every single position. Every kid on this team could run. Every kid on this team could hit, and not in the learned or taught way, they hit like it came second nature to them.

This isn’t hyperbole either, check out some of these scores against good opponents. They drilled 55 points into a Vandegrift team who only was giving up around 14 points per game. They smashed Austin Westlake, twice. They thumped Atascocita to the tune of 63-21. They had improved from a team that looked destined for a third round exit into a team that was going to win a state title come hell or high water.

Here’s the scariest thing: with the athleticism they have on the roster and their returners, they’re in a position to do it again.

Key Losses

December 17, 2016 - Texas UIL 6A Div. I State Championship game between The Woodlands and Lake Travis at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Image Credit: John Glaser/texashsfootball.com)
December 17, 2016 – Texas UIL 6A Div. I State Championship game between The Woodlands and Lake Travis at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Image Credit: John Glaser/texashsfootball.com)

QB Charlie Brewer, RB/WR Maleek Barkley, TE/WR Cade Brewer, LB Aidan Estrada, FS Austin Hiller

LT’s going to lose a lot of skill, that much is certain. Charlie Brewer really came on strong during the playoffs, and the flexibility of Maleek Barkley and Cade Brewer won’t ever be truly replaced.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Cavs will miss aggressive seniors Aidan Estrada and Austin Hiller among many others. The entire D just had a nose for the football, and would knock you out when they got there.

Key Returners

December 17, 2016 - Texas UIL 6A Div. I State Championship game between The Woodlands and Lake Travis at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Image Credit: John Glaser/texashsfootball.com)
December 17, 2016 – Texas UIL 6A Div. I State Championship game between The Woodlands and Lake Travis at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Image Credit: John Glaser/texashsfootball.com)

WR Garrett Wilson, LB Will Lisenby, QB Matthew Baldwin, CB Nathan Parodi

With Will Lisenby and Nathan Parodi back on defense, the big challenge will be on LT’s defensive line. They graduate a ton of starters, but with these two leading the charge, that defense will be able to run and hit with the same frequency.

Garrett Wilson is a guy who’s incredibly talented, and will give brand new starter Matthew Baldwin an impact target for most of the season. This isn’t Baldwin’s first taste of action though, he’s had plenty of reps in LT’s blowouts.

The Verdict

Yes, the Cavs lose an obscene amount of seniors, but so does everyone this year. There will be a massive gap in which many top teams will be attempting to break in their up and comers, and I like Lake Travis to be among the top dogs in the state again not based on the volume of players that they return, but the quality.

The road will be tough, but barring some extreme injury issues or talent not panning out like it should, LT should have yet another deep playoff run.

 

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