Varsity football players reflect on victory at state

Our success is due to our player’s never wanting to let their teammates down and upholding the tradition that has been established in this community and program. They competed from start to finish and all three phases followed the goal board which is our blueprint for success. We are so proud of all our players, especially the seniors, in that they made such a great commitment to prepare for the season and the “juice” they brought every day to get better and compete on game day. We told all of them we enjoyed coming out to coach and prepare them every day because they had such great respect and love for the game and enjoyed competing every day.”

– Head coach Todd Dodge

“[Winning the championship] is the ultimate payment we get as coaches. To see the joy and emotion and obviously the happiness of these kids who are young men or football players or student athletes here at Westlake High School. They got to show their raw emotion of how happy and excited they were to win the ultimate prize in high school football, so I just can’t put it into words.”

– Defensive coordinator Tony Salazar

“[Football] was my biggest dream in my life growing up, winning a state championship with the same guys I grew up with. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. [This championship] was definitely more different because we had to prove ourselves every week against the best teams in the state. The competition level was much higher this year.

– Quarterback junior Cade Klubnik 

“This is my second time winning the Defensive MVP and I think it is a huge honor, but I could not have done it with my other defensive teammates that were out on the field doing their job. COVID made everything more special when we finally knew we had won the game. This was the most stressful season ever, never knowing if you were going to play that week or being shut down, so winning it all made everything worth it.”

– Defensive back senior Michael Taaffee

“Coach Dodge played a huge role in guiding the team to victory against South Lake and the entire season. What he does on the field is impressive enough, but I think his biggest contribution is the wisdom and optimistic mindset he brings to the team. This year, Coach Dodge made it a big point to ‘take inventory of what you can control,’ and let the rest of it fall into place. This was an incredibly powerful idea for the team during the pandemic because it reminded us that we had little control over COVID and [COVID-related] cancellations, but we can control how we prepare. We made sure that we were ready to play any opponent at any time.”

– Offensive lineman senior Luke Natenstedt

“The most memorable part of the game was taking a knee towards the end. To me it meant that it cemented our legacy as one of Westlakes greatest teams. We accomplished something this year that honestly exceeded my expectations. I looked around the field as Cade took a knee and thought to myself, ‘This is the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of.’ For me, the most proud moment I had on this team was when the clock hit zero against North Shore. Every single guy in the locker room believed that we could beat that team and we did exactly that. I’ve never seen a better team effort than that day. A moment I felt most proud of myself was on the opening play of the state championship game. Hard work pays off.

– Running back senior Zane Minors

 “COVID has played a pretty big role this year. From wearing masks, not being able to use our locker room and limited stadium capacity, COVID has definitely made this season memorable. I was never too concerned that the state game would be canceled because I was confident that UIL would reschedule an important game like this one.”

– Defensive back junior Hunter Powell 

“I actually wasn’t all too nervous before either game, I made it a point of emphasis for myself this postseason that I need to treat every game like the others. Because really, all I need to focus on for games is making sure that I kick the ball hard, kick the ball far, and make sure it goes where it needs to go. Keeping those points in mind, I’m able to stay calm and have fun with what I’m doing. The energy at the end of the southlake game was grateful and excited. Everyone on the team knew it would be a hard and trying game, but everyone knew we could easily win, and I personally believed that we would win. Again, everyone having put in so much time and effort into that season and seeing the result of it is such a huge relief and causes a surge of pride. Going through so much with the guys you’ve grown up with and being able to triumph like we did on that big of a stage is truly incomparable to anything else in this world.”

– Kicker junior Charlie Barnett 

“Coaching and trust in each other was a big difference maker for our defense. The biggest thing I’m going to take away [from this team] is the brotherhood we made. It’s truly a different atmosphere when you have 70 players and coaches who all have a true connection and genuine bond.”

– Defensive back senior Jax Crockett

“[The end of the game] was a really special moment for me. You know everyones always told me you’re gonna remember your last play and I think I definitely will. It was my last time ever going to play football, [the] last I’ll ever have football pads on and helmet on.”

– Defensive lineman senior Nick Hogan

We played one game at a time. Of course we were worried about our season but that was never something that held us back. We used it as motivation each week in front of us. Winning two state titles in a row has been an honor. I’ve always grown up loving Westlake and looking up to the players. Becoming a player has been really fun and will always be a special part of my life.” 

– Kicker senior Grey Girdley

“[The most memorable moment was when] we ran out of the tunnel and the bright lights of the stadium were shining on us. When the fourth quarter was ending, the whole team was ecstatic and we rushed the field. The team was committed to each other and made sacrifices every day which made me feel proud to be part of a team that cares about each other. 

– Linebacker senior Hudson Bartlett

“My coach always tells us to have our ‘hearts on fire and our minds on ice’. Both of my grandfathers are die hard Cowboys fans – win or lose. One of them was able to be in the stands for the game with my entire family. So I definitely had fire in my heart, but no chill because I was hyped! I’m new to the team- to the sport of football, actually. I appreciate the coaches and my brothers for teaching me the game and getting me in shape.”

– Defensive back senior Quad Johnson

“The walkout to the buses was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that and I don’t know if I will again. [There were] hundreds of people outside cheering even though it was 12 hours before the game. It was hard to really wrap my head around all of that. A key factor in helping us win state was definitely Coach Salazar, our defensive coordinator. He knew when to take stuff seriously and he also knew when to have fun. I feel like that good mix of fun and seriousness kept a good environment so we never really got burnt out by football. I’ve been removed from football for like a week now and I’m already missing it a little bit. As a senior, I just got to soak in all of the practices, games and position dinners for the last time.”

– Defensive back senior Patrick Churchill 

“I felt weird [during the last quarter] honestly, probably not how you would expect. Yes I was very excited, but it felt like the magnitude of our accomplishment had not yet fully dawned upon me.”

– Running Back senior Grey Nakfoor

“I was not afraid of losing because I knew we were the better team and I trusted my teammates and coaches to do their jobs and win the game”

– Linebacker junior Ben Rose

“I was never scared that we would lose when we were down in the North Shore game with two minutes to go, it was more nervousness. I knew our team could punch in the win, they just needed to execute

– Linebacker junior Marlowe Fokken


“The energy we had going into that game was incredible. Our whole team wanted to win this game and we knew we had to start out fast to take home the trophy. To me, I just thought of it as another game against another team, but there was definitely a little part of me saying ‘we cannot get beat by Coach’s son’. Every time a play was made our sideline would erupt, giving our team an extra boost of confidence. Then after the clock hit zero and we were State Champs – I’ve never felt anything like it before.”

– Wide receiver sophomore Bryce Chambers

“When I got to the game, I was really excited and nervous because I couldn’t help but think about how hard our entire team worked to get to this point. I knew in the back of my mind how rare it is to get to a State championship, let alone win it, and I couldn’t help but be excited about our opportunity to win it all. My experience throughout the game was really a rollercoaster of emotions. It was really surreal walking out of the tunnel onto the field at Cowboy Stadium. There is no other feeling like it.”

– Quarterback senior Stoney McGuire

“My biggest supporters were my parents. They’ve had to sacrifice a lot of time and money from lessons with private trainers to far away games, just to get [me] where I am today. They’ve always been my rock and have pushed me to be the best person on and off the field. Knowing that the 2020 Westlake chaps will be forever named ‘state champs’ will always feel special to me. Not many kids can say they’ve won state in the great state of Texas. Without the best coaches in the nation and the number one supporters we couldn’t have done it without them.”

– Defensive lineman junior Aden Ponce

Covid took me out of a game and I was constantly scared our season would end. [Winning state] still felt unreal and made up even when it was happening.”

– Linebacker senior Blake Thompson