Lake Travis fell painstakingly short of bringing home its second straight state title in a 35-33 loss to Allen last December in the Class 6A Division I State Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. But even though the Cavaliers didn’t achieve their ultimate goal, they did find their quarterback of the future in junior-to-be Hudson Card.
After starter Matthew Baldwin went down with a knee injury on the Cavs’ first offensive play, Card came into the most competitive, pressure-packed situation a high school football player could face and accumulated 306 total yards (224 passing, 82 rushing) and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) while helping Lake Travis dig out of 21-0 hole to take a brief second half lead before succumbing to the Eagles down the stretch.
It was a performance that has the Cavalier faithful giddy for his potential.
“The experience he got was a big benefit to him and we are super excited to watch him continue to get better,” said Lake Travis coach Hank Carter.
Card played most of his snaps at wide receiver last year, where he caught 69 passes for 1,137 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lake Travis has a tradition of producing great quarterbacks with eight straight going to play at FBS schools – including 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Card made it nine when he committed his dual-threat talents to the University of Texas over the summer, and Carter is confident his transition to full-time quarterback will go smoothly.
“I think a lot of people have initially thought that Hudson Card is a wide receiver that Lake Travis is going to stick at quarterback,” Carter said. “So I know what a lot of people are going to find out across the country is that no, this dude is a quarterback, and he just happens to be an exceptional athlete.”
Card will have one of the best receivers in the country to throw to in Ohio State pledge Garrett Wilson. Wilson hauled in 96 balls for 1,764 yards and 26 touchdowns last year. Carter, who is a defensive coach at heart, said he has a tough time getting on his cornerbacks in practice because he knows Wilson is that good. He’s the kind of player who can have the defense draped all over him and still make the play.
“I can tell you rarely do I get upset when Garrett makes a play on us because often there’s nothing the kid can do about it,” Carter said. “He’s in the right spot. He’s doing everything he can. Garrett is just such an exceptional player that often times he’ll make a circus catch or makes a cut that kind of leaves everybody standing still. Where in most years I probably would’ve been upset or going over there jumping on a kids’ butt or a coach because we didn’t do this right. Sometimes we do everything right and Garrett, just because of his ability, can still somehow win the play. He’s pretty spectacular.”
Carter wouldn’t tip his hand on what other roles Wilson will have this year, but after excelling as a wildcat quarterback, situational defensive back and occasional special teams returner last year, it’s safe to say he’ll wear multiple hats again.
Lake Travis added an impact transfer to its defense in safety/outside linebacker John Hunter Henry from Cedar Park. Henry was previously apart of the Cavalier program as a youngster so Carter is already familiar with him. Henry had 52 tackles, nine pass break-ups and one interception in eight games last year. Lake Travis will also get back senior linebacker Matthew Pederman, who missed last year with a torn ACL, but had 58 tackles as a sophomore.
Carter is hoping these two, along with returning varsity talent and rising JV players, can help a defense that fell off a bit last year. Lake Travis allowed 22.3 points per game in 2017 after never giving up more than 15 in the previous six seasons.
“I think what’s going to be the difference is how kids compete every day in practice and how they are going to gel together,” Carter said. “We’re excited about having those two guys and then plugging in some new guys, too, just coming up from the JV, and guys that have just battled in spring that seem like they are going to be ready to step into a bigger role.”
Special teams could be an area of concern after All-State honorable mention kicker Cameron Dicker graduated and took his boot to the University of Texas. Dicker made 67-of-69 extra points and 12-of-15 field goals last year, including a long of 53 against Pflugerville Hendrickson and a 37-yard game-winner against Cibolo Steele. He also had a 61.2-yard and kickoff average with 38 touchbacks and a 38.9-yard punting average with seven inside the 20. Carter said the supernatural Card will probably take care of punting and that kicking duties are up for grabs going into fall camp.
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