Chaparrals advance to State Quarterfinals

Dylan Webber

For a third-round playoff game, you’d expect to play your starters the whole time, but Westlake (12-1) had the opportunity to send in its backups in a 56-7 blowout of North Mesquite (10-3). On a cold, rainy Nov. 28 at Waco ISD stadium, the Chaps had no issues to start the game, scoring 21 points in the first quarter. Captain senior Mack Kelley opened the scoring, returning a fumble forced by senior Bryce Boisvert to the house with 7:09 left in the first quarter.

“To get a defensive touchdown that early in the game really changes the momentum for the rest of the game,” Mack said. “It boosted our confidence as a team, and in turn, raised our playing level significantly.”

The Chaps defense dominated the game, forcing four turnovers in the match, but the offense was right there with them, accumulating 480 total yards. Quarterback junior Sam Ehlinger distributed the ball well on Saturday, hitting three different receivers for touchdowns in the game. Sam also ran one in himself.

At this point in the season, it’s obvious Sam can beat teams with his arm or with his legs, but he also showcased his ability in the receiving game, hauling in a one-handed snag on a trick play pass from senior Reed Klubnik. Sam finished the day with five total touchdowns: one rushing, one receiving and three passing. He also had 184 yards through the air on 11-18 passing.

What really stood out from the Westlake offense was the strength in the running game from someone not named Sam Ehlinger. Senior Noah Hodes, who was converted from a wide receiver to a running back, rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

“It adds a whole ‘nother dimension to our offense,” captain senior Brycen Foreman said. “We haven’t gotten that kind of production from our running backs all year, and if we turn this into a consistent element of our game, then we’ll be able to go at teams from any angle.”

North Mesquite’s lone score came in the final minute of the game, as their backup quarterback scampered in on a long touchdown run to avoid a shutout.  North Mesquite’s 7 points was their lowest total of the season, making this the fourth playoff qualifying team that scored their lowest amount of points against the Chaps.

Westlake will travel to the Berry Center in Cyrpess, TX to play Humble Atascocita (12-1) at 3 p.m. Dec. 5.