Article by Daniel Jones / Photo by Tyler Whitman
Is a Repeat in Order for Westlake?
The third-best team in the state is gunning for a consecutive state championship
A year after they shut out Denton Guyer in the 6A-Division II state title game 24-0, the Westlake Chaparrals have all the necessary ingredients to win another championship after the 2020 season.
It was just their second in school history (yet it was the school’s ninth state championship appearance), the last time coming in 1996, when NFL star Drew Brees led the team.
And even though the 2019 team lost its starting quarterback Kirkland Michaux to graduation, junior dual-threat quarterback Cade Klubnik has stepped up this season, leading the Westlake offense to an undefeated regular season. Although Klubnick played sparingly in the 2019 championship season (when the team played three different quarterbacks), as of late November he threw 18 touchdowns and just one interception through seven games during the 2020 regular season.
Drawing comparisons to UT’s Sam Ehlinger, Klubnik, is already getting recruited to play at some of the best Division I schools in the country. Among them are: Auburn, North Carolina, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Arizona State, Georgia, Clemson and Ohio State.
However, since Lake Travis standout QB Hudson Card signed the year before to play at Texas, hoping to land the starting position once Ehlinger graduates and gets drafted, Klubnik won’t likely be staying in town for college.
Westlake head coach Todd Dodge, now in his seventh season coaching the Chaps, told me just before the season that he had somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of his starters back from the year before.
“In any given year,” he said, “about 70 percent of the guys who are going to start for us are going to be guys who were either backups from the year before or were on JV. … And so I think a real key for us is going to be how quickly our players who don’t have a lot of experience get acclimated to the speed of 6A football in the state of Texas.”
And it looks like his players have acclimated well enough, going 8-0 (6-0 in 26-6A) and beating its opponents 437 to 20 with five total shutouts.
As of this writing, Westlake is ranked third in the state behind Duncanville (#2) and Galena Park North Shore (#1).
BUT DON’T DISCOUNT LAKE TRAVIS
Lake Travis, who couldn’t play its last two regular-season games due to a member of its coaching staff testing positive for COVID-19 after having been on campus, is still ranked fifth in the state’s 6A classification. The Cavaliers ended the season with a 6-0 record (5-0 in 26-6A), and because of district ruling, weren’t able to play Westlake during the regular season.
The unplayed games figured into district standings, providing Westlake a higher seed in the playoffs.
“No one is more disappointed than the two groups of kids at both schools that were going to get to play that game,” Coach Dodge told the Austin American-Statesman. “There is definite respect between these programs, and we were both looking forward to the challenge of facing each other. It was going to be a huge game.”
Lake Travisplayers, because they had close contact with the coach, had to self-quarantine for 14 days, meaning quite a lengthy time off from playing and practicing.
Yet you know that legendary Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter will make sure his team does its best to keep the momentum going during the time at home, likely making sure it’s seen as a positive, so that his players use the time they have to increase communication, study scouting reports and rest injuries.
However, considering how the last two seasons have ended in frustration for Lake Travis,
both times losing in the state 6A-1 semi-finals (especially after beating would-be state champion Westlake during the 2019 regular season), you can be sure that the Cavs will be playing like they have nothing to lose.
We’ll all be eagerly watching as the playoffs begin in early January 2021.