Q: You’re on the most respected coaches in the state. You could probably coach any school in any city but you choose to coach here at Westlake in Austin. What do you love most about coaching at Westlake and living in Austin?
A: My favorite part about coaching at Westlake is just the great tradition that this place has. I love being at places that have tremendous tradition. There have been a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches that have come before us. Just like we did when we were at our run at Southlake Carroll, we wanted to make sure that we honor what came before us by continuing to raise the bar and making sure that we’re keeping this program in the very top five to ten teams in the state of Texas year-in, year-out. It’s not just a team very year. It’s a program that people have built around here and we want to continue to do that.
Q: One of my favorite parts about covering you last year was seeing the extra respect you paid to your opponents after games. After the Niceville (Fla.) game, you brought all the Niceville kids together and thanked them for coming to Texas. After the Lake Travis game, you went up to (Lake Travis quarterback) Matthew Baldwin and gave him a few extra words of encouragement. Why do you go out of your way to do that and how do you feel about the state of sportsmanship today>
A: One of the things is we want our players always to absolutely respect our opponents. We’re going to prepare extremely hard over the course of the week. We’re going to study them. We’re going to know everything that we can about them. One thing that I think is the biggest form of flattery is that you respect your opponent, and you prepare as hard as you possibly can. The one thing that we want to always make sure that never happens is we don’t get beat because we disrespected someone. As far as the stuff after the games, I take a lot of pride in being in the brotherhood of high school football in the state of Texas. This is something very special. Just because you’re not on the same team doesn’t mean your not in the same brotherhood, and so when the game is over with I want our players, I want our coaches to show respect to the people that we played against. I’ve always got something to say. We’ve been watching them all week long and want to encourage those guys for the rest of the year and let them know what we think about them, that they did a good job, and that’s just something that hopefully will permeate through our entire team.
Q: How you do feel senior quarterback Taylor Anderson has grown since he was first thrust into the starting role as a young sophomore?
A: Taylor is a veteran now. Taylor has started 22 games for us. Probably no one ever expected him to start seven games as a sophomore but we were 6-1 in the starts that he had as a sophomore. Obviously, last year, led us to a 14-1 season. It’s not even close. He is truly an outstanding leader because of his toughness and the one thing about Taylor, Taylor is a guy willing to do whatever it takes for his football team. I think the epitome of mental toughness was in last year’s Lake Travis game. He had a really bad first half as far as production. He threw three interceptions in the first half, and a lot of guys could’ve gone in the tank right there. He comes in at halftime and tells his teammates, ‘hey guys, y’all keep playing. I’m going to be alright. I’m going to get my stuff together.’ He rushed for about 125 yards, a couple touchdowns in the second half, led us to a victory. So that’s who he is. There are a lot of dual-threat quarterbacks in the state of Texas right now. He’s one of them. He’s a guy who rushed for 1,100 and threw for 3,000 (yards) last year and he accounted for about almost 50 touchdowns.
Q: What do you think makes Tony Salazar such a special defensive coordinator?
A: He comes from a great lineage of defensive coaches. He learned under Pete Fredenburg and the guys at Mary Hardin-Baylor that play tremendous defense. He’s very intelligent, very passionate. He’s a guy that’s a tremendous teacher of the game. A lot of times people don’t equate coaches as teachers. We’re all teachers. It’s just our classroom when we’re coaching football is a little bit different. It’s out here in the open. It’s here between the white lines. But Tony is (somebody) I wouldn’t trade for anybody in the world.
Q: Name one player that lot of guys might not know but you think has had a great preseason camp and could potentially turn some heads this season?
A: A guy that a lot of people probably haven’t heard of yet or is not a household name is Drew Webster. Drew played a bunch of football for us last year but he wasn’t a starter at safety. He played enough to almost be a starter. So on the defensive side of the ball, it’s him. On the offensive side of the ball, I think that Tripp Graham – our running back – is going to surprise a lot of people in the replacing of Nakia Watson.
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