What to expect: Varsity football travels to Belton for season opener

After a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Cy-Fair in the State semifinals last year, many wondered where Westlake football would go next. Set to lose Wisconsin-bound running back Nakia Watson and star defensive lineman Braden Cassity, gaps on both side of the ball would need to be filled in the offseason. There was plenty of time to do this, but that time is now up, as the Chaps will take on Belton to begin their 2018 season. And the team has high expectations, as the chaps are ranked seventh by MaxPreps among 6A schools in the state. With the first gameday of the season on the horizon, we thought we’d preview it with our expectations and insight.

What to expect: Increased focus on the passing game

Quarterback senior Taylor Anderson slung the pigskin last year better than we thought he would, and we can’t see him regressing. With a receiving core that hasn’t gotten any worse (returning are senior Penny Baker and junior Mason Mangum), the football should be seeing a lot of airtime.

What not to expect: The starters to be in the entire game

Dodge is not a stranger to substituting starters out of the game when ahead (or behind, although that hasn’t been the case many times) by a lot of points of points. This should especially hold true this season, with the running back situation being a question. Any reps that Dodge can get out of his players will be valuable. Expect many new faces if the game gets out of hand.

What to expect: More running from the quarterback

Taylor’s running game was underappreciated last season due to having Nakia in the backfield. We saw glimpses of what he could do on the ground, weaving in and out of traffic to escape pressure. We’re anticipating more drawn-up quarterback runs from Dodge given that the use of traditional running backs might not be as common.

What not to expect: A worse defense

Even with the losses on the defensive side of the ball, don’t expect the defense to soften up. With a defense like last seasons, you’d expect most of them to be heading off to their respective colleges come the end, but the Chaps are returning with the likes of defensive lineman senior David Neal and linebacker senior Jake Ehlinger, who both impressed last season.

Final score predictions:

Jake: Westlake 38-21 Belton

Adam: Westlake 35-14 Belton

While we do think these will happen, no one can know for sure how exactly Westlake will go about its business. Many things can and will change through the course of the year, with one result in mind: a State Championship. Will the Chaps achieve this? We surely hope they can. The process is stepwise, and the first step is now upon us.