Westlake takes down Cedar Ridge on the path to the State Championships
By River Tompkins
The Bi-District Championship took place between the undefeated and reigning State Champions the Westlake Chaps and the 6-3 Cedar Ridge Raiders. Both teams have strong playoff history, Westlake consistently eases past their division and constantly poses a championship run as they did in the 2019 season. Cedar Ridge has their fair share of access reaching the playoffs in all of the last 8 years but never reaching the final destination in the UIL State Championship game.
Though Westlake was heavily favored coming into the game, anything can happen on Friday nights. The Lake Travis Cavaliers who played on the same night were upset by the Round Rock Dragons, in a stunning score of 35-21, the Cavs were knocked out of championship contention. Westlake came off a 21-day break due to Covid-19 delays and rescheduling so they had to be prepared and bring their A-game.
Westlake started with the ball and immediately followed their game plan of the quarterback run. The 6’2” junior QB Cade Klubnik would run all night over this Cedar Ridge defense and took the first play for 11-yards. Third down in the red zone the Chaps were looking to come away with seven. Klubnik rolled out to the right, sensing backside pressure he stepped up, launching a rocket across the field to Luke Nicholas for a 7-yard TD!
The Raiders also looked to establish the run game early with leading rusher Dylan Morello who standing 5’5” was a shifty back and certainly a hard one to tackle. Morello ran four straight times picking up one first down but ultimately the Raiders were forced to punt. Offensively this was a bright spot, as they would not pick up one more first down until the fourth quarter.
The Chaps had little adversity on offense moving the ball into the Red Zone consistently. Klubnik delivered a strike across the middle to sophomore receiver Jaden Greathouse for a 15-yard touchdown. Not too long before Greathouse would burn Cedar Ridge’s defense allowing Klubnik to throw a 39-yard TD over the top of the defense. Greathouse would do this again on a 15-yard fade route touchdown.
Westlake dominated through the air while also punishing on the ground game with big games from both Zane Minors and Grey Nakfoor who both got 1-yard touchdown runs. A somewhat unspoken hero in Charlie Barnett the Chaps kicker nailed all of his field-goal tries including one from 35-yards out! The defense also played great with Alex Jessup both sacking the QB and knocking the ball free for Chap defender Carson Lindesmith recovering.
Though it was a disappointing night for Cedar Ridge the Raiders were able to walk out with their heads held high. Late in the fourth quarter, the passing game finally formulated as Joaquin Sandoval dialed the launch codes on a 62-yard bomb to Devon Turner for a Raiders touchdown. The Raiders also got a scoop and score on defense after Issac Cobb forced the fumble and Joseph Captain recovered and returned it for six! Though the Westlake Chaparrals had not played for the past 21 days they looked very refreshed and refined. Klubnik showed vast improvement from previous games as every throw was on point and no true errors were made on his part. He looked more comfortable in the pocket sensing pressure, stepping up, and making the right play. If Klubnik continues to play at this level Westlake will be a true threat in the final stretches of the playoffs.
After a dominating win, the Chaps will have to keep their wits about them and not get too content especially with the challenges they will face in later rounds. In the next round, Westlake faces off against Smithson Valley who are fresh off a 24-20 win against Reagan.