Varsity football advances to final four in State playoffs

Jake Breedlove

Senior running back Nakia Watson explodes with energy, breaking the tackle of the Steele Jake Breedlove

It was a tightly contested game midway through the fourth quarter at the Alamodome, as the Chaps held a 21-14 lead over Cibolo Steele High School and trotted onto the field after stopping the Knights on fourth down the previous play.

With a head full of steam, running back senior Nakia Watson took the handoff, turned upfield and darted down the sideline and toward the end zone. It was a close play at the goal line, but Nakia’s leap into the endzone with 6:15 left in the game sealed the victory for the Chaps, 28-14.

“I was proud of myself,” Nakia said. “[In the moment], I just told myself to keep pushing. If you keep going, [the other team] will eventually get tired.”

Running was the key weapon for both teams Friday night. Steele running back senior Brenden Brady totaled 100 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, while Nakia finished with 191 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

The game was close throughout the first half, with back and forth scoring preventing one team from holding a lead. Going into the break, the teams were even at 14-14 after a late rushing touchdown by the Knights tied the game up.

“It was like a new ball game at half-time,” head coach Todd Dodge said. “I challenged [the players] and said, ‘You’ve got 24 minutes to go on the wall.’ It’s a tradition at Westlake: If you make it to the final four, your team picture goes on the wall. I know they’re not satisfied though.”

Westlake broke the tie on the first drive coming out of the half with a 37-yard pass right up the middle to running back senior Steven Crider, making the score 21-14. The defense prevented any scoring in the second half for the Knights, pressuring Steele’s quarterback freshman Wyatt Begeal on the line and only allowing 61 yards passing.

Defensive linemen junior David Neil and senior Braden Cassity were impactful players on the defensive line, combining for multiple sacks.

“I do think we have one of the toughest defenses in Texas,” Braden said. “We just have to keep at it. We have to be as cool as a cucumber as [Dodge] says.”

The Chaps are now one of the last four teams standing in their bracket. They go on to face undefeated Cy-Fair 3 p.m. next Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

“There are a lot of players and coaches on the sideline that have been in these big games before,” Dodge said. “We never want to panic. That was a physical team that we played, and I’m so proud of our guys for coming away with this win.”