One of the state’s best rivalries in recent years is being renewed in the playoffs: Lake Travis and Austin Westlake. While we’ve already seen one iteration of this bitter 25-6A showdown this year, there are going to be several key differences as each team is here with its season on the line.
Difference #1: Sam Ehlinger is finally looking like, well, Sam Ehlinger again. The Westlake quarterback returned to form in an absolute drubbing of Laredo United to the tune of a 55-15 score. It’s been a difficult season for the Chaps’ gunslinger, as an early season victory over the Katy Tigers has lead to injury after injury after injury. Ehlinger is one tough dude, so the injuries ended up being mere minor setbacks.
Westlake will also have to overcome a psychological edge. There’s the small fact that the last time these two teams played, Lake Travis dominated in a 49-7 dismantling. It’s hard to beat the same team twice, and this loss could prove a positive motivating factor for the Chaps, as you can bet that star linebacker Levi Jones and the rest of the Westlake defense weren’t exactly pleased with getting 49 hung on them. This Westlake team is playing differently than a month before, but they’ll need all that and more to beat a Lake Travis team that has appeared unstoppable all season long.
The Cavaliers aren’t a one trick pony, nor are they defined by a superstar, even though they have superstars in their midst. They’re balanced, the type of balance that comes from having so many weapons that you can think to yourself, “Man, that one player hasn’t caught a pass yet today”, then look up to the scoreboard and see that it doesn’t really matter, they’ve already scored 40 points.
Maleek Barkley is an absolute problem in open space, Charlie Brewer delivers the ball to his weapons efficiently, and tight end Cade Brewer is effective in the pass game catching footballs and in the run game blocking defensive ends. Any one of those weapons, or weapons unmentioned because we simply don’t have the time to talk about every single Lake Travis player with talent, can disappear, and the Cavaliers can roll on undisturbed.
At this point, the Texas High School Football playoffs are a war of attrition. Many things can simply come down to who is healthier, and at what positions they’re healthier. There is no clear advantage at any position here, except for the psychological factor, the ever-present mystery of motivation, and we have no idea which team that will impact more.
This rematch has the potential to be one of the best rematches of recent history. It certainly has the storylines, with Ehlinger apparently back to 100%, the Lake Travis season that seems like a season of destiny, and the beatdown back in district play. It’s going to be a fantastic game, that much can be assured.
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