Westlake High School has seen some incredible talent walk down their hallways in the past 20 years, so talented in fact that names such as Drew Brees and Nick Foles are as common a conversation as who the Chaps face off against in their next football game. Not to take away from Lake Travis and all their success including their five straight state titles from 2007-2011, but they aren’t the only ones who have a winning tradition in this game.
With Drew Brees at the helm, Westlake went 28-0-1 as a starter and in his senior year the Chaps were able to capture their lone state title in 1996 while also leading the state in total offense; Foles came up a game short 10 years later in his own state title run. Westlake has managed to make a few good runs since the early 2000’s but hasn’t closed the deal completely. The Chaps hope to change this trend in 2016 with a huge matchup against fellow 25-6A opponent and bitter rival Lake Travis. Both teams finished at the top of the district standings with Lake Travis dominating in the regular season matchup 49-7 back in October. Things have changed some since then, the Chaps are riding a six-game winning streak and the Cavaliers are riding an 11 game streak, this pits two hot teams who know each other extremely well. It’s always unique to see a deep playoff game with two district foes, because despite what happened during the season it’s anyone’s ball game.
Unfortunately for the Chaps, they will trot onto the field Friday without their starting QB Sam Ehlinger, who has battled injury throughout the season. The Chaps have fallen to Lake Travis nine straight times, with the absence of their QB, the chaps are staring a tenth loss straight in the face. The Cavaliers are averaging close to 290 YPG through the air and another 200 YPG on the ground and have yet to be challenged in their 2016 playoff run. Lake Travis has weapons all over the field, accompanied by a stout defense that only gave up 28 points in all of district play. The Cavaliers have the ability to let it fly and pound it out on the ground, the only way the Chaps will stay in this game is if they can manage a few turnovers and capitalize on them. The Chaps have a little less firepower, but still pack quite a punch, airing it out for 190 YPG and adding another 193 YPG on the ground. They are led on offense by junior Nakia Watson, who has over 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season. It’s not that the Chaps don’t have offensive weapons themselves, just not near as many as the Cavaliers.
On paper this matchup appears to be exactly how the district standings ended up, with Lake Travis as number one and Westlake at two, but that’s what is so great about high school football, because anything can happen on the gridiron. What it all boils down to is that the preview talk and predictions can be thrown out of the window on Friday night, because we have ourselves a rivalry game. For the seniors on both sidelines, you get to do battle for a ticket to the final four against a team you have played since you were 14, and despise, does it really get any better than that?