This time last year, Lake Travis was playing against Katy at NRG stadium for a state title. All year, the Cavaliers had an unstoppable offense. They blew through anyone in their path, until they ran into the Katy Tigers who arguably had the best high school defense ever.
Lake Travis was on a mission all season to redeem themselves. It opened their eyes and turned a fire that had been building since that title bout with Katy into an inferno. However, starting off your season with a loss is in no way encouraging. It’s such a setback for everyone, the players, the coaches, the fans, the parents; it puts you in this mindset that maybe you’re not as good as you thought you were. As it turns out, the Cavaliers would use that loss as further motivation.
The Cavaliers had been a powerhouse all season after Converse Judson, blowing out almost every team they came across. That being said, there was one game that had everyone on the edge of their seat. Week 2, Lake Travis was battling it out with Cibolo Steele to the very end. The Knights had not had a home loss since 2013, and were not going to give that up without a fight. Going into double overtime, Cameron Dicker’s 29-yard field goal was exactly what the Cavaliers needed. After a very close call, the Cavaliers vowed from this point on nothing was going to stop them, especially their rivals from Austin Westlake.
Every team has a rivalry, but what Lake Travis and Westlake have is different. Twitter roasts arise from the players, student section, former players, and occasionally parents. Lake Travis had beaten Westlake eight years in a row and the Cavaliers were looking to make it nine. Westlake Chaparrals star quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, left the game early in the first quarter due to a thumb injury which set back the Chaps tremendously.
Westlake was unable to score in the first quarter and struggled all night long. If Lake Travis’s defense could keep Westlake out of the end zone the whole game, it would be the first time in over 30 years the Chaps had been goose-egged. The Chaps pulled it together to avoid the shutout, but the final score still read 49-7. Little did either side know, they would see each other again down the way.
In the fourth round of the playoffs, the two schools squared off again. Lake Travis was predicted to win but doubt still remained. It’s the playoffs; you just never know. Westlake had their star running back, Nakia Watson, but again, UT commit Sam Ehlinger was out due to a wrist injury. With the stakes even higher in the rematch, this matchup meant so much more. One of the two lakes could continue on to pursue the Texan dream of a state championship. The other’s season would end. With chilling temperatures and scattered rain, the Cavaliers pulled through yet again with a blow out ending the Chaparrals 2016 football season. Perhaps it was Principal Gordon Butlers’ “lucky shorts he wore to every game” that helped Lake Travis that night.
When the fans arrived at AT&T Stadium, the first thing everyone saw was the massive jumbotron. Anticipation and excitement filled the busses, the locker rooms, the stands, and especially the field. Playing on the same turf as the Dallas Cowboys must have been the second most exhilarating feeling; finishing a play and then looking up to see if you made the jumbotron. What tops that, however, is knowing that this is your last shot.
This is the game of the year. This is the last time you’ll be with your brothers in the locker room, on the turf, inside the big blow up helmet running across the field. As a junior and senior especially, you take it all in and admire the fact that this is going to be a memory that you’ll tell the rest of your life.
30,000 plus took to AT&T Stadium to watch The Woodlands Highlanders and the Lake Travis Cavaliers battle it out in the last game of 2016. With great ambition, both took the field and go head to head for the state title.
Coming in, the Highlanders were the underdogs. They came to fight and they also came to fight for their teammate, Grant Milton, currently in a coma. Student section and fans from both teams are supporting Milton, number 21, with jerseys and signs filling “Jerry World.”
On the other side, the Cavaliers’ mission is focused on redemption. Lake Travis had 14 seniors playing in their last game, with this game meaning a little more. Right off the bat, the Cavaliers scored a touchdown, and continued to score the whole first half. In the meantime, the Cavalier defense held the Highlanders until Dylan Casey caught a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the half.
As the clock ticked down to the moment the Cavaliers would be state champions, students unable to contain excitement yelled the annual “goodbye” and “state” and “countdown” chants. As the clock hit zero, both teams were filled with emotion, tears were flowing from all sides. It was bitter sweet for the Cavs, and us almost surreal seeing Principal Gordon Butler run end zone to end zone with the new 2016 flag.
With everything going through their heads, senior Austin Hiller spoke for all the players and thinks back to the “two-a-days and thousands of up-downs [they] did and how it was all worth it.” and “looking back at Garrett Gilbert and Michael Brewer and Mayfield all the guys that came before them that set a tradition of excellence and knowing that senior year was [their] year.” Emotion filled the stadium for a bittersweet end to the Lake Travis football season. The 15-1 Cavaliers had a dominating season that could not have ended better.
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