Varsity football falls short, Lake Travis wins first Battle of the Lakes matchup in two years

It was a clash of high school football titans, but the first half was far from the high scoring affairs that Westlake had been so accustomed to this season. Instead, the Chaps found themselves down 3-10 after a first half full of missed opportunities and untimely penalties. Behind at half for the first time this season, they needed an air-tight second half to continue their winning streak against Lake Travis. After a back-and-fourth third quarter, the Chaps had to convert on a third down in Lake Travis territory to secure a comfortable field goal to win the game. Instead, an ineligible man downfield cost them a down and five yards. This put a field goal attempt at 43 yards, and head coach Todd Dodge rolled the dice with kicker junior David Leadbetter. His kick, while on target, didn’t have enough power, falling short and dooming Westlake’s chances of winning. 

“Talking to my special teams coordinator, we felt like he could make,” Dodge said. “He hadn’t missed an extra point or field goal all year long, and he came up just short.”

Afterward, the Cavaliers ran the clock out, securing their first victory in the Battle of the Lakes in two years by a final score of 25-26. 

“We had our chances,” Dodge said. “I’m sure when we look at the video we’ll chop it up and see where we could’ve gotten more points. But it was a great football game between two really good teams, and we’ll get better because of it.

In the first half alone, Westlake was penalized nine times for 78 yards total. Offensive momentum was stifled as Lake Travis forced multiple fourth-down punts.

“We just need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” offensive lineman senior Manolo Bustamante said. “We stopped ourselves a lot in tonight’s game, and we just need to eliminate those [penalties].”

 It wasn’t until the second half when the Chaps found their rhythm on offense. Led by quarterback senior Kirkland Michaux, they scored on both of their first two drives in the second half, launching ahead to a 17-10 lead with 2:28 left in the third quarter. 

“[We sped] the tempo up [in the second half],” Dodge said. “They had a hard time handling our tempo, and we had confidence that we could move the ball.”

This momentum was short-lived however, as Michaux was sacked in the end zone for a safety, and quickly after, the Cavaliers drove and scored a touchdown to regain the lead. After another Westlake score and two-point conversion to put the Chaps up 25-19, University of Texas commit Hudson Card nearly lost the game for the Cavaliers late in the fourth by forcing a pass instead of throwing the ball away on a scramble. Defensive back senior Leo Lowin intercepted the ball, but the play was ruled back by a defensive holding call, helping Lake Travis to complete the scoring drive and take the final lead change of the game.

Dodge addressed the distraught players after the game acknowledging that the loss would sting but also encouraging them to keep their heads up as they walked off the field, knowing they still weren’t at maximum potential yet.

“I’m really proud of this football team,” Dodge said. “This may sound negative, but in comparison to where we can go and where we’re gonna go, we’re not even very good yet. The ceiling for this team is so high. I’m excited, my coaching staff is excited, and I think the [players] will be excited about finding out through the rest of this journey how good we can get.”