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Author: Tucker Stephenson

Texas Out Hustle Utah in Alamobowl Win.

SAN ANTONIO — The Longhorns’ 38-10 demolition of 11th-ranked Utah in the Alamo Bowl provided yet another sugary sweet catapult into the off-season despite a topsy-turvy season overall.

Texas (8-5) was enigmatic at times during 2019, as the secondary and offensive line took turns regressing during Big 12 play. But on New Year’s Eve in the Alamo City, everything came together.

Sam Ehlinger was his old efficient self, as the junior quarterback completed 12 of 18 throws for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He also used his imposing size to add 73 yards and a score on the ground.

Meanwhile, junior linebacker Joseph Ossai spent all game looking like a heat-seeking missile. Ossai finished with eight total tackles — including six for loss and three sacks — as Texas held the Utes (11-3) to their lowest scoring output since the 2018 Pac-12 championship game against Washington.

Not surprisingly, Ehlinger and Ossai were rewarded by being named the Alamo Bowl’s Offensive and Defensive MVPs. 

“Our talent can take us pretty far,” Ehlinger said. “When you add mistake-free football, watch out.”

The Longhorns began the game with a 29-yard field goal by Cameron Dicker on the opening drive. Ehlinger avoided potential disaster when a Utah defensive back dropped a possible pick-6, and the former Lake Travis kicker converted the march into points.

From there, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the boys in burnt orange.

Texas’ defense smothered Utes quarterback Tyler Huntley early and often, as Utah managed just 60 total yards in the opening quarter. Even special teams made an impact, as D’Shawn Jamison broke loose for a 71-yard punt return in the second quarter to set up the game’s first TD — a 5-yard throw from Ehlinger to senior Collin Johnson.

The Longhorns emerged from the halftime locker room up 10-0 and tacked on another 6 points when Ehlinger hit Keontay Ingram on a wheel route that went for an 11-yard score.

Utah booted a short field goal to pull within 17-3, but Texas went back to work on offense and crossed the goal line again on a 6-yard run up the gut from Ehlinger.

” But again, just to also be in this game, to come back home and get back to my roots and play in a place I’m familiar with means a lot to me, as well.” – Caden Stearns

Despite a few questionable calls, the fourth quarter turned into a glorified curtain call for the Longhorns’ seniors as the lead ballooned to 28 points. Devin Duvernay snagged a 16-yard throw from Ehlinger, and Ingram later rumbled 49 yards to the end zone to cap the game’s scoring.

The Texas defense forced seven punts on the night and dominated even though it didn’t force a single turnover. 

It was a fond farewell for linebacker Malcolm Roach and fellow seniors Johnson, Duvernay and Zach Shackelford. All four have a legitimate shot to be playing on Sundays next season.

The Alamo Bowl rout also helped head coach Tom Herman improve to 4-0 in bowl games with the Longhorns.“We knew that we were going to have to play with a greater passion and physicality than they would,” Herman said. “It would have been easy for guys to splinter after the regular season was not what we had hoped. These guys are competitors. They want to win.”

Is Brees the GOAT?

At this point, betting against Drew Brees is just plain dumb.

And yet, somehow, it still continues to happen.

The legendary former Westlake quarterback added another page to his Hall of Fame resume on Monday night when he passed Peyton Manning to become the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns with his 540th. The record-breaking score came on a 5-yard play action toss to tight end Josh Hill during the Saints’ 34-7 destruction of the Indianapolis Colts — one of Manning’s old teams.

And what did Brees do for an encore? He tossed another TD on his next throw, which went for 28 yards to Taysom Hill. 

Brees finished the game with yet another league record in his back pocket, as he set a single-game mark for completion percentage after going 29 for 30 for 307 yards to connect on a ridiculous 96.7% of his pass attempts.

Brees, the one-time Chaparral standout and Purdue alum, now holds those two NFL records in addition to the league’s top mark for career completions (6,792) and all-time passing yardage (72,577).

However, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Brees would add another few records to his total after he sustained a torn ligament in his right thumb earlier this season. Given that Brees is already 40 years old, some wondered whether he’d be able to make it back to his old self.

But New Orleans kept churning out wins under Teddy Bridgewater, which allowed Brees to be patient with his injury and ensure that he took the proper time to heal from successful surgery. He made his return on Oct. 27 against Arizona and quickly reminded all the doubters why he’s one of the best to ever chuck a pigskin by throwing for 373 yards and three TDs during a 31-9 rout of the Cardinals.

Since then, he’s continued his assault on the record books alongside wide receiver Michael Thomas, who has become perhaps the best wideout in the NFL. As the playoffs approach, though, Brees likely has only one more goal in mind — bringing a second Lombardi trophy back to New Orleans. Now that he’s back to 100%, it would be a huge mistake to overlook the Saints in any round of the postseason.

2019 CFB BOWL PREVIEWS

The college football season has once again delivered some top-tier match-ups for the bowl season.

In addition to the four College Football Playoff qualifiers, another eight teams will get the opportunity to shine in front of a national audience with all eyes on them. Here’s a look at each matchup leading up to the national championship game on Jan. 13, 2020.

Dec. 28 — Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Penn State (10-2) vs. Memphis (12-1) 

The Big Ten’s Nittany Lions will matchup with the American Athletic Conference’s Tigers in the bowl season’s annual David vs. Goliath matchup. Penn State recently signed head coach James Franklin to a new six-year deal, while Memphis’ Mike Norvell just agreed to take over a struggling Florida State program.

It will be interesting to see if the coaching change has any affect on the Tigers’ upset hopes.

Dec. 28 — Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 1 LSU (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) 

LSU’s offense has been the talk of the nation thanks to quarterback Joe Burrow and passing game coordinator Joe Brady, who was hired away from the New Orleans Saints to revamp LSU’s aerial attack. The result has been nothing short of incredible, as the once-plodding Tigers rank second in the country in passing yardage.

Jalen Hurts will get another chance to lead his team to a title this postseason after transferring from Alabama to OU. However, the Sooners seemed more lucky than deserving of the opportunity, as they had to survive a close battle with Baylor in the Big 12 championship despite the Bears losing their top two QBs to injury.

Dec. 28 — Playstation Fiesta Bowl (CFP semifinal): No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 3 Clemson (13-0) 

The resurgent Buckeyes are back in the CFP thanks to two of the biggest breakout stars of the season — QB Justin Fields and DE Chase Young. Fields has accounted for an incredible 50 touchdowns by himself, while Young has registered 16.5 sacks heading into the postseason. 

The Tigers are the defending national champs and may feel a bit underappreciated given their No. 3 overall seed. Head coach Dabo Swinney’s squad is still loaded with NFL-caliber talent and is led by QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, WRs Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins, LB Isaiah Simmons and S K’Von Wallace.

Dec. 30 — Capital One Orange Bowl: Florida (10-2) vs. Virginia (9-4) 

The Gators are back in the public eye following an uphill climb out of mediocrity. Head coach Dan Mullen helped Florida finish second in the SEC West this season. Standout cornerback CJ Henderson has announced he’ll sit out in order to prepare for the NFL Draft, but no other Gators are expected to sit.

The Cavaliers get a nice consolation prize after being bludgeoned 62-17 by Clemson in the ACC championship. Virginia, which is led by dual threat QB Bryce Perkins, will look to gain back some more respect on a national level in this one.

Jan. 1, 2020 — Rose Bowl: Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (10-3) 

The Ducks blitzed Utah in the Pac-12 championship, which sent the Utes into the Alamo Bowl, where they’ll meet Texas. QB Justin Herbert still leads an exciting air raid style offense for Oregon, and the Ducks will once again try to prove they’re more than just a finesse team from the West Coast.

The Badgers looked as though they’d caught Ohio State by surprise in the Big 10 title game, but the Buckeyes stormed back to topple Wisconsin. Still, a berth in the Rose Bowl is always something to be proud of, and RB Jonathan Taylor has his sights set on bringing a trophy back to chilly Madison following the program’s 10th appearance all-time in Pasadena.

Jan. 1, 2020 — Allstate Sugar Bowl: Georgia (11-2) vs. Baylor (11-2) 

The Bulldogs get a shot to atone for last season’s dud against the Longhorns, while Matt Rhule and the Bears will try to give their fanbase a huge victory following a remarkable comeback season.

Georgia has enjoyed yet another solid year under head coach Kirby Smart. Junior QB Jake Fromm may have fallen off the radar in terms of the most talked-about signal callers in college football, but a big game in New Orleans could change all that. Just ask Sam Ehlinger.

Meanwhile, Baylor will hope to welcome back QB Charlie Brewer following an unfortunate injury in the Big 12 championship. Brewer, a Lake Travis alum, has been sensational for the Bears in 2019. The junior comes into the Sugar Bowl having thrown for 2,950 yards and 20 TDs and rushed for another 545 yards and 10 scores.

Jan. 13, 2020 — CFP National Championship: TBD vs. TBD

No one is yet 100% certain who will end up playing for all the marbles at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, but Longhorn fans will have a clear favorite: anybody but OU.

Wimberley QB Cooper McCollum

Not many folks outside the halls of Wimberley High School thought the Texans would end up playing for a Class 4A Division II championship this season.

But senior quarterback Cooper McCollum has been confident in his team’s ability all season. In fact, the signal caller has been planning on a special 2019 campaign since before Wimberley sewed up a spot in the playoffs.

“We actually had to turn in goals for our team — we had to turn in three goals — and one of mine was to be the leader of a team that’s remembered,” McCollum said in mid-October. “We don’t want to be a team people forget. We want to get our name written in stone up on the state champs wall so when they walk in, they see our name first and they know we mean business.”

McCollum has since raised his game to a new level while helping the Texans’ offense become even more unstoppable. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior came into the state title game having already accounted for over 4,000 yards of total offense and 61 touchdowns.

They key for McCollum and the Texans has been balance. Not only can McCollum torch an opposing defense with his arm, but he’s shown the ability to keep plays alive with his feet until his wide receivers gain separation down the field.

McCollum has plenty of weaponry at his disposal, as Wimberley’s receiving corps is made up of seven players who have collected 10 or more receptions. The leader of the pack is junior Christian Marshall, who has used his 6-foot-3 frame to haul in 61 passes for 1,282 yards and 18 TDs prior to the state championship matchup against Pleasant Grove.

Juniors Josh Limely (628 yards, 11 TDs) and Jaxon Watts (692 yards, seven TDs) are also prime targets, as is senior Kolby Goforth (287 yards, TD).

Wimberley also has a solid running back in Moses Wray, who excels at getting the tough yards that help set up the Texans’ play-action passing game. Wray’s 1,223 yards and 15 scores force defenses to stay honest when attempting to game plan for Wimberley.

Of course, it hasn’t been smooth sailing the whole way for McCollum and the Texans. The quarterback was forced to leave Wimberley’s 42-14 loss to Navarro with an injury that he sustained with his team holding a two-touchdown lead.

However, that type of adversity has only led to bigger and better performances down the line. Since the postseason began, McCollum has thrown for 1,320 yards and 19 TDs, including five each in back-to-back weeks against Navarro and Silsbee.

The Texans punished Navarro 42-12 in their playoff rematch, and it looked as though McCollum was going to lead another rout in the state semifinals against Silsbee. As it turned out, Wimberley needed all five of his scores versus the Tigers, as Silsbee made a late comeback to pull within six in the fourth quarter.

The Texans once held a 49-16 lead in that game, but McCollum never showed any panic. Instead, he did what he does best — get the ball in the hands of his playmakers on the outside as Wimberley prevailed 56-43 to punch its ticket back to state for the first time since 2011.

“I wasn’t scared,” McCollum said. “I know who we are, and I knew we’d execute when it mattered the most.”

Lampasas Badgers Head Coach Troy Rogers

Texas Sports Monthly got the opportunity to catch up with Lampasas head coach Troy Rogers during the Badgers’ outstanding 2019 campaign. Rogers discussed his team’s high-octane offense, underrated defense and the excitement that has swept through the entire Lampasas community this season.

Q: Coach, you arrived at Lampasas prior to the 2016 season from Galena Park North Shore to take over your alma mater’s football program. Did you see this type of success coming with the group of young talent that was thrown into the mix as freshmen and sophomores?

A: Well, we knew if we just kept getting better that we had some talent coming through. We don’t ever talk about expectations like that, but we knew we had a talented group and these kids have been playing well. 

Q: What has the excitement level been like within the community of Lampasas this year, especially in recent weeks during the playoff run?

A: It’s been great. Lampasas always support their high school. They love the Badgers, and win or lose, they’re going to support them. It’s just been a long time since they had winning football to get excited about, and getting to play into December is really exciting for our community and they’ve really come out to support us. It’s a good thing.

Q: Junior quarterback Ace Whitehead and wide receivers Jaylon Porter and Cameron Everts have had outstanding seasons. How has your team’s passing attack been able to grow into such a potent part of Badger football?

A: I think it starts with the quarterback. He does such a great job of making decisions and delivering the ball to the guys who need it. Our O-line is probably the unsung heroes because they’ve been giving him time, and our run game has been really effective as well. We try to be as balanced as possible to keep people off guard, but I think what’s kind of set us apart is Ace and our receivers — Cameron Everts, Jaylon Porter, Mike Murray, Brenton Webb. (Ace) spreads the ball around really well and we’ve been able to throw it down the field, and that’s something that’s not real easy to do. Dinking and dunking is also a part of our game, but when you have the ability to throw the vertical or the post effectively, it really changes things.

Q: Who are some of the other players who have helped build this team into a district championship ball club and a state semifinalist?

A: I think one of the things that gets overshadowed sometimes is our defense, which has been playing really well. They’ve helped us out plenty of times, and I think one of the things we do well is play complimentary football. I know last week against Liberty Hill we had two takeaways and then offensively we were able to turn those into points. That’s what you’re trying to do. If you’re going to get a takeaway, which our defense prides itself on, then the offense has got to compliment that and turn it into points. We’ve done that fairly well all year.

Q: It’s always tough to play an opponent twice, especially when you won the first matchup by a wide margin. Did you expect Liberty Hill to be more competitive after you guys defeated them 52-10 during district play? (The Badgers won the rematch 49-34.

A: Even the first time we played them, we told the guys, ‘Hey, this is going to be the best team we’ve seen.’ Regardless of what their record was at that time, that’s still a team that’s coming off of a state final appearance. The thing about being a state finalist is you get to practice football for a lot longer than anyone else. They had a lot of guys on their roster who have played a lot of football and I knew it would click. They were still finding their rhythm with some new pieces of the puzzle and hit their stride. We knew that it was going to be a battle in the playoffs.

Q: Any time a team makes it into mid-December in the playoffs, it’s not by accident. What are the challenges awaiting against Carthage in the state semifinals?

A: It’s just a storied program. Anybody that follows Texas high school football knows about the Carthage Bulldogs. They’re a year removed from winning back-to-back state championships. Liberty Hill beat them last year in the semifinals and I think in three years, that’s the only loss that they’ve had. They’re a team that knows how to win, and it’s exciting for us to get an opportunity to go play those guys. When I got hired here back four years ago, I said, ‘If you want to be the best, you’re going to have to beat the best.’ Carthage is one of the best in the state, so we’ll have our hands full, but our guys will be ready to get after it.

Lampasas Liberty Hill Game "You Got Mossed" on MNF

Lampasas senior wide receiver Jaylon Porter has had a remarkable year, as he goes into this Friday with 61 catches for a team-high 1,246 yards and 18 touchdowns.

One of those receptions has even earned him a prime time shout-out from a Hall of Famer.

Porter was the No. 1 highlight on this week’s “You Got Mossed” segment that aired before the Monday Night Football matchup between the Eagles and Giants on ESPN. Named after all-time great wide receiver Randy Moss, it features some of the best individual grabs made by wide receivers in all levels of football across the country.

Porter’s catch came in the back of the end zone on a fade pattern in which he leaped over the shoulders of Liberty Hill defender Matt Montes, secured the ball and turned away to avoid having the pigskin pried from his grasp — all in mid-air.

Porter’s TD reception was one of three he secured in the game, which his Badgers won 49-34. Lampasas now advances to face Carthage in the Class 4A Division I state semifinals.Moss, who was enshrined in Canton in 2018, gave an emphatic play-by-play of the acrobatic TD alongside Monday Night Countdown colleagues Suzy Kolber, Steve Young, Louis Riddick and Adam Schefter. The video has since gone viral around the Lone Star State.

The clip is the last of the featured and is the only Texas High School Clip. Dec 9th Broadcast

Wimberley advance to State Quarter- Finals

During the Texans’ 42-14 loss to district rival Navarro in late October, quarterback Cooper McCollum was relegated to the sideline with an injury that took all of the air out of Wimberley’s proverbial balloon.

In the rematch, McCollum showcased what he was capable of doing in four full quarters of action.

The Texans (11-3) flipped the script on Navarro at the Alamodome in San Antonio, as McCollum was nearly perfect while directing a 42-12 rout in the Class 4A Division II state quarterfinals. The senior signal caller tossed five touchdown passes to lead an early onslaught that buried previously-unbeaten Panthers (13-1) from the outset.

“We jumped out on them early and then just kind of kept them at arm’s length and made them chase us all night, which is something that they don’t like to do,” Wimberley head coach Doug Warren said.

McCollum exited the first meeting against Navarro with the Texans holding a 14-0 lead, but the Panthers used a string of 42 unanswered points to run away with the victory. Navarro later sewed up the District 13-4A-II championship.

However, Wimberley looked nothing like an underdog in the Region IV-4A-II title game and was able to light up the scoreboard early and often. 

McCollum took to the air and found Christian Marshall for touchdown strikes of 21 and 31 yards in the opening stanza, but the senior quarterback wasn’t done there. He added a 6-yard TD toss to Josh Limely to close out a dominant 21-0 first quarter for the Texans.

“It was just us taking advantage of opportunities,” Warren said. “We’ve thrown the ball fairly well all season and the first time against those guys we lost (McCollum) to injury, so that kind of changed the complexion of the game a little bit. It was just a matter of us executing our offense to its potential.”

Wimberley quarterback Cooper McCollum looks for a receiver as teammate Moses Wray (5) blocks Navarro’s Brian Holmes (82). 

Navarro stopped the bleeding when Johnny Alegria tallied an 11-yard rushing score prior to halftime, but the Texans’ defense held strong throughout the third period to protect a 21-7 lead.

Marshall then threw a TD pass of his own late in the quarter, as he found Jaxon Watts on a 13-yard pass play that helped put Wimberley up by 21 once again. The Panthers answered with a short TD run by Alegria, but McCollum put the finishing touches on the triumph in the final seven minutes of the game.

McCollum capped a scoring drive with a 1-yard TD plunge and then hit Limely on a 56-yard scoring toss that put the exclamation point on the Texans’ blowout win. 

McCollum finished the contest 18 of 22 passing for 221 yards and five scores in addition to 26 yards and a TD on the ground. Running back Moses Wray added 93 yards on 15 carries, while Marshall and Limely each hauled in a pair of scores.

“We knew if we played a complete game we’d have a great chance to advance on, and so that confidence level was there,” Warren said. “They just kept feeding off of it.”

Wimberley has now advanced to the state semifinals and will meet Silsbee for the right to play for a state championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. 

Warren said the Tigers (9-3) will be yet another tough opponent for his battled-tested Texans.

“They’re going to be the best football team we’ve played up to this point and we wouldn’t expect anything less in a state semifinal,” Warren said. “Very athletic, and so they do provide challenges for you just because of team speed and their size up front. It’ll be a tough matchup for us, there’s no doubt.”

High School Football: A Texas Tradition

A former South Texas sports editor who had recently moved to the Lone Star State from Arizona stepped into the press box on an idyllic Friday night and sat awestruck as the scene overwhelmed him.

Both sides of the bleachers were packed to the gills, and marching bands in full regalia took their designated place in the stands as cheerleaders, twirlers and dance team members spilled onto the field in single file.

Members of the student spirit crew exchanged gifts at midfield prior to the coin toss, but even before the kickoff, it was clear the young man was busy taking in every aspect of the scene unfolding below. 

“I guess Texas high school football is everything they say it is,” he remarked.

More reports came in from him over the coming months as he got a true taste of the state’s passion for all things gridiron-related. It was enough to realize that something most writers and fans take for granted is truly extraordinary.

And it wasn’t even the playoffs yet.

Yes, it’s that magical time of year when the match-ups become even more meaningful. Legends are born in the postseason, and if your team is lucky enough to capture a state championship, a small piece of immortality comes along with it.

Perhaps Liberty Hill head coach Jeff Walker said it best when he remarked, “Teams to remember play in December.”

Besides doing his best Dr. Seuss impersonation, Walker knows what it takes to run the gauntlet known as the playoffs. So does Lake Travis’ Hank Carter, for that matter.

Those coaches know that the postseason has its own mystique, and that no opponent is to be taken lightly. Since the format expanded to take four teams per district, there have been some memorable upsets every season. It’s unavoidable given the fact that 692 do-or-die games are played during the span of one postseason.

Just last season, Richardson Pearce, a 36-point underdog, took down Cedar Hill in the first round.

Forget March Madness. These are the real bracket busters.

As the final few Austin-area teams continue their march toward glory, the weather will turn colder and the smack talk on message boards throughout the state with undoubtedly heat up. It’s like Christmas come early, except without the cheap gift from your least favorite aunt.

So no matter how your favorite college or pro team is faring at the moment, keep an eye on the biggest ongoing tournament in the state. Who knows? The next Vince Young, Baker Mayfield or Drew Brees could very well be on their way to AT&T Stadium to compete for one of the state’s biggest prizes.

LT Cavs won the State Title in December of 2016 at AT&T Stadium. Photo Texas Sports Monthly

When the smoke has finally cleared, a dozen teams will remain standing. When the postseason began, that number was 704.

So good luck to those still attempting to hoist a state championship trophy in Arlington. And to those who have already moved on to the next sport?It’s only eight more months until two-a-days arrive.

Doug Warren: Wimberley Texans Football

Texas Sports Monthly recently chatted with Wimberley head coach Doug Warren about the Texans’ playoff run, as well as their explosive offense. Coach Warren also gave his thoughts on the school’s budding athletic rivalry with nearby Canyon Lake High School.

Q: Coach, your offense has averaged over 40 points per game through the first 12 contests of the season. How has that group been able to light up the scoreboard so consistently?

A: It starts with our quarterback, Cooper McCollum. The offense runs through that guy and he gets us in a lot of good spots. Moses Wray, our running back, had a really good night [against Raymondville] and rushed for about 200 yards and is a big part of that. We’ve got several receivers also — Christian Marshall, Josh Limely, Jaxon Watts, Kolby Goforth, Colby Boyle. All of those guys fit into the picture, and there are two or three others as well. 

Q: Who is anchoring the defensive side of the ball so far? 

A: Our linebacker, Cole Schroeder, has really kind of stepped up and settled into a role. (Safety) Colby Wiegman is another guy that’s on that side who flies around and has been somebody to lean on, and I think

Jadon Potts is another one. Those three guys have really kind of been the steady hands for us. 

Q: In the second round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs against Raymondville, you guys won 63-35 in a shootout. What was that game like to experience from the sidelines? 

A: It was back and forth. Neither defense could stop the other’s offense. At halftime it’s tied 21-all and then it’s 35-35 after the third quarter. Then from that point on, we were able to hold them defensively and score 21 in a row. We’ve been in some tough games and some tough situations already this year, so I think that’s an advantage for us in these playoffs.

Q: Is your third-round opponent, Rockport-Fulton, going to be similar to any team you’ve faced earlier this year?

A: They’re a Slot-T based team and run-heavy. Canyon Lake is along those lines and Navarro is along those lines, so we’ve seen teams that are like that. We know it’s a tough challenge for us. They’re going to take the ball and just try to grind it out and shorten the game down and limit our possessions on offense.

Q: Canyon Lake has become a rival of Wimberley since it opened its doors in 2007. There’s even a name for the prize between the two teams — the Battle of the Backbone Trophy. (The Texans won this season’s matchup 45-7). Has it been exciting for the kids and fans to look forward to that game every year?

Coach Doug Warren Wimberley Texans.

A: Any time you have a rivalry, it adds a little bit to the game. They’re just right down the road, so it’s pretty natural. You don’t have to throw in a trophy to make to special — that doesn’t really add anything in my opinion. It’s already what it is, and it’s not just football. It carries over into basketball, volleyball, you name it. Two schools that compete very hard against each other when they play.

Lake Travis face S.A. Madison in Area Round

AUSTIN — It’s common knowledge that Lake Travis spent the latter portion of the season trying to work through an injury to starting quarterback Hudson Card.

Thankfully for the Cavaliers, senior middle linebacker Maui Trevino is still there to command the other side of the ball. 

Head coach Hank Carter’s team kicked off the 2019 postseason by stifling Smithson Valley 21-3 at home on Friday, Nov. 15 in Austin. In that game, Lake Travis surrendered an early field goal to the Rangers but absolutely clamped down on the visitors for the remaining three quarters.

Trevino was in the middle of the action all night and helped slow Smithson Valley’s not-so-secret weapon — senior running back/wide receiver Greg Eggleston, who came into the contest averaging 11.7 yards per touch.

The Cavs limited the Rangers’ X-factor to just 15 yards on 12 carries, while Trevino piled on 10 total tackles to bring his team-leading season total to 91 prior to Lake Travis’ second-round matchup with San Antonio Madison.

“Maui is the leader of our defense,” Carter said.  “He’s a three-year starter and embodies everything you want from  a middle linebacker. He’s smart, tough, instinctive and is a great tackler. I’m proud of the player that he’s become and he’s a huge part of our success this season.”

Of course, there were still plenty of eyes fixed on Lake Travis junior Nate Yarnell, who took over for Card during the week leading up to the Del Valle game. Yarnell went 3-0 in the last three weeks of District 25-6A competition, but it was unknown if the playoffs would prove to be a stumbling block.

However, the 6-foot-6 junior stood tall when it counted and helped turn the tide with a pair of touchdown drives in the second quarter. The first was capped by a 34-yard strike to Grayson Sandlin, while the second was an 81-yard march that saw Yarnell cover the final few feet on a 1-yard run.

“Nate did a lot of good things,” Carter said. “He made some big throws and runs when we needed them. He’ll continue to improve as he gets more games under his belt.”

The offense was also given a boost by running back Weston Stephens, who churned out 160 yards on 27 carries to help the Cavs keep the chains moving. 

Defensively, Trevino received additional support from defensive back D.J. Johnson and defensive end Trey Sofia. Johnson shadowed Eggleston all night, while Sofia caused a key fumble to help preserve the Cavaliers’ 14-3 halftime edge.

All of those players will be instrumental as the postseason rolls on. 

Lake Travis faces a matchup with Madison in the second round and will look to slow the Mavericks’ one-two punch of quarterback Michael Garza (1,801 total yards, 23 TDs) and running back Darien Gill (1,131 yards, 10 TDs).

There’s also hope that Card could return at some point down the line if the Cavs can keep on advancing. His prognosis, which initially stated that his injury required season-ending surgery, was changed to a four- to six-week timetable days after the Westlake game. It’s not known if Card will be healthy enough to get back on the field before he makes the move to the University of Texas, but even if he’s unable to return in 2019, Trevino and the defense will be ready for whatever comes their way.