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Westlake head coach
Todd Dodge knows his defensive coordinator Tony Salazar is going to leave him for a head coaching job sooner rather than later, but he’s going to hold on and cherish his prized assistant as long as he can.
The proof is in the pudding that Salazar knows how to coach up a defense. In four years as Leander’s defensive coordinator from 2009-12, the Lions gave up 19.2 points per game – 11.7 in his last season. The year after he left, that number ballooned to 27.1
The year before he came to Westlake, the Cha
ps allowed 27.1 points per game. In the four years since that number has never risen above 17.1.
When Dodge was the head coach at Marble
Falls, he hired Salazar away from Leander because he had so much trouble moving the ball against him. As they say: if you can’t beat em, hire em.
Dodge said the modern spread offense is about having lots of options and Salazar always found a way to take all those options away. He added that Salazar’s organization skills and ability to float around at practice because of his broad depth of knowledge at all the position groups are what separates him from the rest.
When you combine a wise coach with talented personnel the results can be dominant, and Salazar has a number of great pieces to work with on Westlake’s defense.
Senior defensive end David Neil is the boogeyman up front. He made 101 tackles last year with a team high in tackles for a loss (16) and sacks (13) while finishing third in quarterback hurries (nine).
Senior linebacker Jake Ehlinger (little brother of Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger) is the returning leading tackler with 104 stops. He registered seven of those behind the line of scrimmage with five sacks, four quarterback hurries, and a team-best four forced fumbles.
Junior safety Sage Luther anchors the back after tying the team lead with three interceptions to go with 79 tackles and four pass break-ups while earning the district defense newcomer of the year award as a sophomore.
Dodge admits defense is the strength of this team but is confident the offense will hold up its end of the bargain with senior quarterback Taylor Anderson leading the way.
Anderson was thrust into the starting job as a sophomore when an injury knocked out Sam Ehlinger and put up so-so numbers. He may not have been ready then, but he sure is now after posting 4,010 total yards (2,879 passing, 1,131 rushing), 46 total touchdowns (32 passing, 12 rushing, two receiving), a 63.2 completion percentage, 9.6 yards per attempt and just nine interceptions last year as a junior.
Dodge thinks Anderson will be even better in 2018, and hopefully, he’s right because no one is replicating the production the departed running back Nakia Watson (1,938 yards, 27 TDs) and the offensive line is mostly rebuilding as well.
Dodge’s ace in the hole is senior kicker Gabriel Lozano. Lozano made 83-of-84 extra points and 10-of-11 field goals, including a 40-yard game winner against Vandegrift. He’s also excellent in the field position department, where he averaged 55.1 yards per kickoff with 23 touchbacks and 40.9 yards per punt with nine downed inside the 20.

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