Chaps slay Dragons in season opener

Westlake opened its 2015 football season with a 20-14 barnburner win against eight-time State Champion Southlake Carroll, avenging a 14-17 away loss against the Dragons last season. Both teams are perennial powerhouses in Texas high school football, making this one of the biggest regular season games in Westlake history. The game proved to be as exciting as the sell-out crowd could hope for.

Carroll had not lost a regular season game since 2013. The Chaps nearly ended that streak last year, in a close loss. That loss served as a motivator for this year’s team.

“Since the end of last season, this game has been continuously on our mind,” captain senior Mack Kelley said. “We went in knowing anything other than a win was unacceptable. Last year’s loss left a bad taste in our mouth, and we weren’t going to have that taste in our mouth again.”

Westlake boasts a robust defense, and one of the best secondaries in the state, and under the bright lights, they played up to their expectations. The Chap defense forced a three-and-out in Carroll’s first three possessions of the game. They also forced the Dragons into three turnovers — an interception by captain senior Max Mangum, a forced fumble by junior Levi Jones, and a failed Southlake fake punt attempt in the fourth quarter.

But possibly the defensive play of the night came on the last one, where everything was on the line. Down 20-14, the Dragons had one more chance to possibly win the game. Ten yards out, Southlake went to their main man of the night, Lil’ Jordan Humphries. With a jump ball thrown his way, Lil’ Jordan bobbled the ball which cornerback senior Ryan Rees knocked away to secure a Chaparral victory.

“What I did wasn’t that special,” Ryan said. “My boys had been doing their part all game, and on that last play, I was called to do mine. It was all on the line, and I knew I couldn’t let my team down for how hard we had worked.”

The game also saw a vintage performance from captain junior Sam Ehlinger, a recent Texas commit, and the Westlake offense. Ehlinger stuffed the stat sheet, helping account for all three of Westlake’s touchdowns. He also put up 216 yards through the air on 18-29 passing, with two of those resulting in touchdowns and 92 yards on 19 rushes for one touchdown.

But Sam wasn’t the only threat on offense, as wide receivers seniors Reed Klubnik and Chase Cokley also aided in Westlake’s win, being the only Chap receivers to record multiple catches. Reed hauled in a game-high nine catches for 92 yards, while Chase recorded six catches for a game-high 100 yards and a touchdown.

The Chaps continue their non-district play next Friday against Temple at Wildcat Stadium.