Successful Quarterbacks are a tradition at Westlake. To back up that bold statement, 15 of the last 16 Quarterbacks have gone on to play at the college level or even the pros. You can even see some on Sundays, like Drew Brees and Nick Foles. It’s expected to see greatness running the huddles for the Chaps but one player makes you really appreciate it. Junior Sam Ehlinger, who wears the number 4 jersey, is slowly emerging as the face of Texas High school Football. The 16 year old started creating buzz last year as a sophomore when he accounted for over 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns of total offense.
After a solid first showing, he continued to prosper in the off season; leading the chaps to two 7 on 7 Championships and was named MVP at the UT Camp for Quarterbacks. Before Ehlinger took a snap in his junior year, Charlie Strong and The Longhorns offered him a full ride scholarship. This meant everything to Sam being a lifelong Horns fans. “Dream come true, no doubt my favorite school because I’ve grown up in Austin going to UT games every weekend”.
Aside from his early success, Ehlinger remains a very humble and focused young man. Being the oldest of 3 kids, he is extremely mature and wise beyond his years. Ehlinger had to grow up quick after losing his father to a heart attack two years ago. The pressures of Friday Nights are minute compared to what he has been through in his life. You can see it through his performance on the football field.
Sam is not your typical quaterback. He’s listed at 6’1 207 but when you stand next to him, it adds another 20 pounds. His frame is a lot like a linebacker. He can bench press 345 pounds and squat 525 pounds but he still possesses the finesse and skill to excel at quarterback. He finishes plays. Any time things break down, he extends the play and finds ways to get positive yardage. He gambles with confidence. The way he spreads the field, you would think he would turn the ball over but he doesn’t. The junior has yet to throw an interception this season. I usually like to find comparisons for these great players, but Sam Is simply in his own class. Just think of a created player on Madden with all his attributes at 99; that’s what Ehlinger looks like.
Westlake is off to another great start to the season. Sam has the Chaps looking like State Championship Contenders again, being ranked in the top 3 in the state and 28th nationally. Coach Dodge feels like he has the guy at quarterback that can take them to new heights. In my sit down interview with Coach, he raved about how far Ehlinger has come as a player and that he is everything that a person should be on and off the field. Ehlinger is the first junior ever to be named team captain under Dodge.
Individual success has followed Ehlinger thus far in his high school career but team success is his ultimate obsession. “District Championship is the first step to everything and the final goal is to win a State Championship, What drives me is the brotherhood and the love between our team” Ehlinger said following their 55-3 win over Hays. You can tell that this Westlake team feeds off of his energy. After every touchdown or big play, Ehlinger is always the first guy to celebrate with his teammates and after bad plays, he’s building everybody’s confidence. He never loses focus of the task at hand. It doesn’t matter the circumstance, Ehlinger believes in finishing what you started.
With all of the spotlight, we forget that Sam Ehlinger is only 16 years old. On the field he plays like a man amongst boys but he still wants to be known for the down to earth kid that he is. When asked about what he enjoys doing when he’s not tormenting defenses, he simply responded “I like to sleep and play video games.”
Westlake may have one of their best players in recent memory in Sam Ehlinger. The Chaps are 7-0 but they will have their hardest test yet next week when they face the 7-0 Cavaliers of Lake Travis; a team that has never lost to Westlake. If anybody can rewrite history, it’s number 4.
Here are some game photos of the Westlake Chaparrals playing against the Hays Rebels at Shelton Stadium in Buda on Friday 10/16/2015. Westlake won 55-3.
Photos courtesy Rafael Marquez