SAN ANTONIO – Brandeis has so far proven to be the new version of the '80s' Cleveland Browns' Kardiac Kids during the playoffs. Twice in three games, it has trailed going into the fourth quarter. Twice it won. Against Brownsville Hanna, it pulled a San Diego, I mean LA, Charger, coming back from down 19 to win on a late touchdown. That’s in addition to nearly erasing a 17-point deficit against Brennan during the regular season. But against Westlake, the Broncos know if they trail by double digits in the fourth quarter, it will be nearly impossible to come back this time.
Head coach David Branscom used to coach defense at Division III power Mary-Hardin Baylor, so he knows how capable the Chaparrals are.
“Coaching at UMHB helps in these situations," said Branscom. "With Westlake, you get the feeling that they are a perennial power, an elite feel when you break down their film. They have a Director of Football Operations. They are the real deal, but we are excited at the opportunity.”
The last time an area team beat the Chaps in the playoffs was 10 years ago, when Clark beat them at the Alamodome on their way to the state semifinals. Sophomore QB Jordan Battles was five years old when that happened. Now, he has the task of trying to solve the Westlake defense, which has only allowed three touchdowns in three games.
“They’re a good football team," said Battles. "They’ve beaten good football teams. We are going out there and [will] compete like we usually do. We just have to understand that they are teenagers just like we are. They put their shoes on just like we do. They are great athletes."
Westlake QB Taylor Anderson was injured and did not finish the Chaps' game on Friday against Edinburg Vela. Whether he plays or not may not make a ton of difference because the Chaps have several good backups on the roster that can easily fill in should the red-head sensation not be able to go. As Branscom notes, you can't give a team like Westlake extra possessions if you want to win.
“Our goal is to start fast,” said Branscom. “Start fast, avoid turnovers on offense, and create turnovers on defense. We didn’t start fast against Brownsville [Hanna]. We were making a lot of mistakes. We are all aware of what you have to do if you want to be in a ballgame with a team like Westlake. Knowing what [is] coming with that difficulty if you don’t.”
“Football is about building camaraderie and team building," added Battles. "Adversity will help our team a lot.”
Brandeis has a slew of freshmen and sophomores who start, so this will be at least a chance to test their young skills against the Chaps. Westlake defeated Brennan in round two, who beat Brandeis in the regular season. This will be the teams’ first ever meeting, regular season or playoffs, when they play Saturday evening at the Alamodome.