Photos by Aubrey Oswalt
Last year, The Westlake Chaparrals fell short to Round Rock Dragons in the first round of the playoffs. It was fairly disappointing for a team with annual championship aspirations. The team was young but they felt like they had the talent to thrive in the post season, especially with their then new head coach, Todd Dodge.
In my previous interview with Coach Dodge, he emphasized how last year’s early exit from the playoffs has really motivated his underclassmen. The Chaps have been every bit of that and more this year. They started this season off with a bang, capturing a shocking victory over 10th ranked South Lake Carroll, a team that just beat back-to-back state champions, Cedar Hill. From there, it wasn’t hard to see that Westlake meant business.
The Chaps finished this regular season at 9-1, much improved from last year’s 7-3 record. The most visible aspect of the Chaps recent success is the play of Junior Quarterback Sam Ehlinger.; one of the players that really took last year’s challenge personal. “Last year he was making sophomore mistakes. He was one of 11 players that had never taken a varsity snap, on offense” Coach Dodge explained before stating how much Sam had improved from last season. Ehlinger probably had the best offseason of any Chap, and his numbers show just that. His passing yards of 2437 and 34 touchdowns are double his numbers from last year. .
Sam isn’t the only one making noise on this football team. Senior wide receiver Chase Cokley (North Texas Commit) is having a monster season as well. He finished the regular season with 40 catches for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s one of the most underrated receivers in the state. I’ve covered 13 high school games this season and he without a question is my favorite player to watch. He isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to make every catch in his radius. He treats the football field like an obstacle course.
Westlake opened up the playoffs against a familiar foe last night. Round Rock came to town to reinstall supremacy over the Chaps. That wouldn’t be the case this time around. Westlake not only won, they put the much anticipated exclamation point on their sweet revenge, beating the Dragons 35-14. Westlake came out the gate swinging. They scored on the first drive, extending their national record for most consecutive games with a touchdown.
The Chaps were elated to have avenged last year’s devastating loss to Round Rock. “It’s a great feeling to earn another week with my teammates. This year’s program is a lot more bonded” Ehlinger stated following the win Friday night. The focus from last year definitely translated into this season. What better way to begin the playoffs than with a victory in a grudge match. Seems like The Chapps are going in the right direction, but the 6A playoffs are what separates the men from the boys. We will see who has what it takes to be the last one standing.