Westlake shuts out Cibolo Steele and records over 600 offensive yards in a dramatic victory
With a football season that should have ended in December, we find ourselves in January 2021 with several teams still clawing their way to the Texas State Championship. At Kelly Reeves Stadium, we witness the undefeated Westlake Chaparrals fighting to make it back to last year’s glory. The 12-0 Chaparrals are matched up with the 9-4 Cibolo Steele Knights in the Class 6A Division I Region IV championship game. Tensions were high on the field as this game was also about pride, with both teams feeling they could win and essentially representing their cities, Cibolo as the San Antonio hope and Westlake as the Austin champion.
One of the aspects that makes Westlake such a force to be reckoned with is the depth and capability of the offensive and defensive line. Cade Klubnik and Michael Taaffe do a superior job of leading these groups in consistent domination of their opponents. Most teams simply can not measure up and the scores throughout the season reflect that.
The Knights received the ball to start the game and were immediately challenged by a defense that had given up a mere average of 4 points per game the whole season, an intimidating defense for sure. Cibolo senior quarterback Wyatt Begeal set to work picking up one first down though the drive soon stalled after a personal foul on the Knights.
Westlake offense took the field led by Cade Klubnik, the junior quarterback with a remarkable 31-1 touchdown to interception ratio through the year. From Westlake’s 49-yard line senior running back Zane Minors received the handoff, bounced to the outside, and cut upfield reaching the daylight on an explosive 51-yard touchdown run!
Westlake got the ball back after a three and out. Following a 36-yard strike from Klubnik to Minors up the seam, the offense moved into over-drive immediately hiking the ball. This possibly confused Klubnik as he threw the ball right into Cibolo linebacker Christian Garza's hands forcing Klubnik’s second interception of the year.
Cibolo struggled to get anything going on offense and only made in to Westlake’s territory once, and though Westlake moved with ease they were shut down in the red zone. On the Chaps' next possession running back Grey Nakfoor fumbled on the goal line out of the endzone resulting in a touchback and Cibolo ball. On their next trip, Westlake missed the field goal and would soon follow it up with another unforced error. Trying to get points before the half Cade Klubnik threw up a wonky pass that once again fell in the hands of Cibolo defender Tevon Cortez.
"There will be a whole lot of talk about the challenge we are up against, and rightfully so with a great team like North Shore,” said Westlake head coach Todd Dodge. "Going in to today we only had three turnovers the entire season, one interception and two fumbles the entire year. It came up and bit us today and we were able to overcome that with the great play of our defensive and offensive line. I love the fact that there was a little bit of self-inflicted adversity and our players never panicked and they just kept playing their tails off."
In the second half, Westlake turned on the jets offensively with non-stop scoring. It started with a 34-yard touchdown rocket of a pass to deep threat Keaton Kubecka who scored his first varsity touchdown on that play. Going one for two the special teams unit made a field goal pushing the lead to 17-0. Klubnik advanced the score with a 1-yard rushing touchdown. Putting the pedal to the metal Zane Minors scored again on a 2-yard touchdown run, Grey Nakfoor broke a hole and galloped for a 41-yard gain with the drive ultimately being capped by a field goal finalizing the score at 34-0.
Westlake Receiver Luke Nicklos emerged in a big way offensively acting as a slot receiver and the go-to-guy for Klubnik. Though Nicklos did not produce highlight-reel plays he was a constant source of production and moved the chains. Every time he touched the ball he fought for extra yards and kept his legs moving. Nicklos had catches of 10, 8, 14, 18, 8, 11, 20, 5, and 9 yards on the day.
In what soon became a one-sided affair, the Westlake Chaps accumulated over 600 offensive yards and defeated the Cibolo Knights with a final score of 34-0. Westlake who has dominated in the playoffs will face a tough opponent in the 13-0 Galena Park North Shore Mustangs who rank #2 in the nation only behind IMG Academy. It will be an uphill battle for the Chaps, though they certainly have the talent and ability to win in what will be a must-see game of two State Champions teams going head to head. The winner of this game will advance to the Texas 6A State Championship, the stakes are high but who will emerge victorious?