CEDAR PARK — Cedar Park doesn’t care what hand its dealt. The Timberwolves will play like champions no matter the odds.
Down two team captains due to injuries (senior quarterback Mak Sexton and senior safety Gunnar Chriswisser), Cedar Park clinched at least a share of its sixth straight district title by ending Hutto’s perfect season with a 35-25 victory Friday at John Gupton Stadium.
“We have a lot of guys that take pride in being apart of this and they work hard in preparation for those opportunities when they come,” said Cedar Park Coach Carl Abseck. “We would love to have those guys playing, but when that happens it’s another guy’s opportunity to step up and take that opportunity and run with it and those guys are doing it, and I’m proud of them for doing it.”
Cedar Park used a 21-0 second-half run to blow open a two-point halftime lead. Junior quarterback Ryan Fiala threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to junior Brandon Breed on the first play of the second half.
After the Timberwolves defense got a three-and-out, the offense went on a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown march that was aided by a critical unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which wiped out a fourth-down stop. Senior Josh Walker ended the drive with a one-yard scoring plunge.
Another quick three-and-out gave them the ball again against a gassed Hippo defense, and the Timberwolves went right at them with nine straight run plays before Fiala tossed a 29-yard touchdown to Carson Neel on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-12.
“I think they were focused coming out of the half,” Abseck said. “The first half I took a couple of risks, didn’t really pay off and that happens, but when you trust your team you’re going to give them opportunities to make those plays and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don’t. But I think they knew they had to come out and play really well in the second half to finish what we started so they were focused and ready to go when the half started and I think we fed off of each other really well.”
Cedar Park’s defense kept Hutto well below its season average of 49.9 points. That was mostly due to a front seven that held Hutto junior running back Chux Nwabuko to three yards on nine rushes and sacked junior quarterback Chase Griffin six times while getting a number of big hits on him right as he let go of the ball.
“That is our expectation of our defense. It didn’t surprise me. They are a great offense but we’re a pretty good defense too. Our defensive staff did a great job at preparing them and our kids executed the plan and got after them,” Abseck said. “The challenge was thrown down to them that this was going to be a great offense v.s. a great defense…but I think they just took it upon themselves to match the tradition of Cedar Park defense and they did a great job of that tonight.”
Cedar Park’s offense kept Hutto’s defense guessing with an excellent balance between the run and the pass. Fiala completed 11-of-19 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions.
The running game churned out 171 yards on 40 carries with Walker (42 yards, touchdown), senior Luke Pollicke (45 yards, touchdown), senior Ibri Leal (42 yards) and junior Will Lipscomb (39 yards) all getting in on the action.
“I thought that we played really well on offense,” Abseck said. “(Fiala) did a great job. I think he had three touchdown passes and no turnovers and I think that’s more than we could ask anybody to do. He just has to stay in his game and play his game and he did a great job of that tonight.”
Breed finished with 150 yards and two touchdowns on four catches. On his first grab of the game, he caught a short slant and took it the house for a 62-yard score with 7:02 left in the first quarter. Pollicke added a 13-yard touchdown run midway through the second to extend the lead to 14-3.
Hutto cut the deficit to eight with a 25-yard field goal from senior Isodoro Barrios and scored its first touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half when Cedar Park failed on an ill-advised fake punt at its own 42-yard line and Griffin found junior D.J. Baptist for a 36-yard touchdown pass two plays later.
Baptist also caught a 62-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and had a 41-yard grab with three minutes left to set up a one-yard touchdown run by senior Jayden Medina. Baptist finished with six catches for 192 yards and two scores. Griffin completed 24-of-42 passes for 356 yards on two touchdowns with no interceptions.
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