Varsity football capitalizes on Cibolo Steele’s mistakes, advances to second round of playoffs

Football games are defined by mistakes. The winning team is almost always the team that made the least errors, a trend that held true Friday night. Cibolo Steele’s crucial mistake came on a forced pass by quarterback junior Wyatt Begeal. The Knights had been driving, and were in the red zone until Westlake cornerback junior Michael Taafe intercepted the pass with 29 seconds to go in the first half. From there, the Chaps led a quick drive, and on the final play of the half, kicker junior David Leadbetter sent a 40-yard kick through the uprights, putting Westlake ahead 16-7 going into the half. This 10-point swing proved to be the break the Chaps needed as they closed the game out with an air-tight second half, defeating Cibolo Steele 30-7 in the Bi-District Championship. 

“It was a big turnaround from [the Lake Travis] loss for me,” Leadbetter said. “It felt great. I’m so glad that the team got the win. That was the biggest thing for me.”

Head coach Todd Dodge was confident in his kicker’s abilities, giving him the opportunity at a 40-yarder as opposed to throwing a hail mary to end the half. 

“David Leadbetter has so much respect for our team,” Dodge said. “He’s not your typical kicker. Most kickers are high maintenance and kinda squirrely, but he’s not. He’s one of the guys. When [the players] have to run sprints on Tuesday practices, after about four of them, we’ll put him up for a 40-yard field goal, and if he makes it, practice is over with. If he misses it, everybody is back on the line. That’s how we put pressure on a kicker during practice. He’s one of the heroes of the night.”

A huge component of Westlake’s second half success was receiver senior Jackson Coker. Dodge put him in at running back for a majority of the third quarter, and he delivered, scoring two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

“It felt really good, but it was all the offensive line,” Coker said. “It was [running back juniors] Grey [Nakfoor] and Zane [Minors] getting the blocks that they needed, [quarterback senior] Kirkland [Michaux] getting the right reads. It felt good to go out there and get a really good team win and have a lot of momentum going into the rest of the playoffs.”

Steele proved to be a tougher opponent than Westlake has been used to in the first round of the playoffs, not allowing the Chaps any touchdowns until almost halfway through the second quarter. Ultimately, it was the ability to adjust that helped them to pull ahead and finish the game.

“I tell [the players] that I’m never gonna lose any sleep on whether or not they’re gonna play hard,” Dodge said. “This field, this stadium means a lot to them. When there’s nobody in the stands, these kids work extremely hard right at this place.”

The Chaps will move on to face Brennan in the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row. Follow @fdsportswhs on twitter for updates on when and where the game will take place.