Westlake has a potential fork in the road in their season with the potential return of quarterback Sam Ehlinger from his knee surgeries. Do they go the one way by reverting back to their former starter? Or, do they ride the hot hand and stay the course with Matthew Gense?
This seems like a real Sophie’s Choice if you’re Chaparrals’ head coach Todd Dodge. He’s proven that after a rocky start in the first game after Ehlinger’s injury he can keep the ship going towards their overall goal, a state title.
The original thought for Ehlinger’s absence would be that he was going to miss at least three weeks. He tore the medial meniscus in both of his knees during Westlake’s opening season win over Katy. After the injury he sent a text to the Austin American Statesman talking about the injury. When they asked how long he might be out, he said, “Not sure. Doesn’t hurt bad at all so should be good soon.”
On last Saturday’s episode of “The Hype” host Brian DeMarco brought up that the University of Texas commit could be available to play this Friday against Vandergrift. The thought against Ehlinger coming back so quickly is that this makes him a risk of being re-injured. And, more importantly, what does this do to a team that is getting comfortable with Gense as their new starter.
As Brian brought up, it’s never a good thing to break up a team that’s rolling with a quarterback. With Gense getting comfortable in the offense, the Chaparrals have averaged 35 points per game over the last two contests. While the offense has been rolling, the defense has been on point, allowing only 18 points during that time span.
It’s hard to tell one of the best quarterbacks in the state, “Hey go over there and hold the clipboard.” But, if it messes with an offense that’s clicking, Westlake fans have to ask themselves would you risk your winning streak and damaging Sam more by putting him back in?
Gense doesn’t have the skill set that Ehlinger does. When Westlake took down Katy, Ehlinger was carrying the offense with his dual-threat capabilities. However, letting Gense be a pocket passer has allowed running back Nakia Watson explode for 483 yards and eight touchdowns during Ehlinger’s absence.
There was a tweet from Ehlinger after Watson’s huge 207 rushing yards last Friday against Bowie praising the junior running back looking forward to getting back on the field.
My man @nakiawatson04 is about to blow up. Can’t wait to get back out there and be the deadliest backfield in the state! Follow my man🔴🔵
— Sam Ehlinger (@sehlinger3) September 17, 2016
So, it looks like Sam wants back on the field, and it would be hard to take the ball away from Matt’s hands. Coach Dodge has some extremely difficult decisions to make in the lead up to this Friday, if Ehlinger is able to go.
Does he go the route of putting Ehlinger back in only to see his team lose confidence if Gense has to go back in? Or, does he ride the hot hand and risk turning his back on the returning star quarterback?
Instead of a “Sophie’s Choice” Westlake fans can say they are at a real “Chaparral Conundrum”.