Varsity football uses strong second half to move past Clemens, onto Area Championship

Up by a touchdown, 21-14, the Chaps found themselves on the goal line late on in the third quarter, looking to put the game out of reach. As the players jogged to the line of scrimmage, there were a few numbers that looked out of place in an offensive set, one of them being number 36. It was defensive linebacker senior Jake Ehlinger who peeled off of a block and caught a short 1-yard pass from quarterback senior Taylor Anderson to give Westlake what would be its final score of the game.

“It really wasn’t a trick play, just something we work on,” head coach Todd Dodge said. “It’s part of our goal-line package, we call it our Kodiak package, where we bring in [Jake] at full back. We ran it earlier and got Tripp in, and the second time we slipped Jake into the end zone, so that was good to see.”

The Chaps, despite a rougher start than usual, defeated Schertz Clemens 28-14 in the Bi-District Championship game (round one of the playoffs).

The early struggles came both from three early offside penalties and breakout plays from Clemens: Running back senior Jaray Patterson took a 79-yard run all the way to the end zone to open the scoring, and, after a Westlake score, receiver junior Kailub Thigpen took a slant throw 90 yards to make it 7-14 with 5:47 left in the first half. Chap running back senior Tripp Graham ran in a 1-yard run to tie the game at half, marking the first time that Westlake was not ahead at the break all season.

“At halftime, I told [the players] ‘I’m gonna find out a lot about you’ in the second half,” Dodge said. “This is the first time we’ve been tied at halftime all season long. We’ve been having safe leads. We were in a ballgame, and the reason is that it’s the playoffs. [Clemens] is a good football team. We put some adversity on them, they put some on us. We had a tie game, and I’m really proud of the way [the players] responded.”

Taylor passed Drew Brees in career passing yards at Westlake, needing 19 going into the game and ending with 202.

“It feels awesome to take a step ahead of one of the all-time greats in any level of this sport,” Taylor said. “I’m beyond blessed to say I [did] that.”

As per the usual for this season, he remained calm and collected with the ball, even in one of the Chaps’ closest games of the year, completing 16 of his 25 throws, one of which was a touchdown.

“I wouldn’t say there were any nerves,” he said. “I’ve been in this situation now three times. I definitely love close games. They get me going and I think they make our whole team play better.”

Westlake will face Brennan (San Antonio) in the Area Championship game at 4 p.m. next Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“It feels great to be back in the playoffs,” Dodge said. “This is a great time of year. You win and advance. It doesn’t matter how many points you win by. You win and you get another game. We are looking forward to playing our twelfth one.”