On Saturday night, Westlake (12-1) has a UIL 6A Division II regional final battle with San Antonio Brandeis (11-2) at San Antonio's Alamodome. Check out five things that can earn the Chaparrals a victory.
1. The defense needs to lead the charge: Westlake has been a different team since its defense allowed 22 fourth quarter points in the 25-21 week 2 loss to Cypress Ranch. The unit learned from the outing, and has only allowed 5.7 points to opponents during the Chaparrals' 11-game win streak. It will need another strong outing against Brandeis, especially with starting quarterback Taylor Anderson getting hurt in the regional semifinals win against Edinburg Vela.
2. Quarterbacks need to be ready: Whether it's Westlake senior starter Taylor Anderson, or junior backups Drew Willoughby and Kirkland Michaux, Saturday's eventual quarterback needs to be ready for field action. Anderson hurt his ankle in the first half of last week's win before Willoughby and Michaux recorded second half touchdowns in relief roles. The best case scenario is a battle-ready Anderson because he has 3,115 total yards and 41 touchdowns in 2018. But, if he can't, the reserves have shown in their stints that they can carry the load when they're under center.
3. Don't underestimate your opponent: Brandeis has racked up an impressive resume since it started playing varsity football in 2008. In previous seasons, the regional final appearances of 2009, 2012 and 2014 topped the charts. The Broncos added a fourth this year to go along with their first ever football win against Cibolo Steele, and their double-digit come-from-behind win against Brownsville Hanna in the regional semifinals. Sophomore dual-threat quarterback Jordan Battles is one of the players that has led the team to success in 2018, so Westlake will have to find a way to slow him down.
4. Bring your offense: Expect a lot of points on Saturday because Westlake has 578 through its first 13 games, and Brandeis has 559 in the same amount of outings. Along with good quarterback play, the Chaparrals need big performances from targets and receivers Mason Mangum (1,019 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2018) and Penny Baker (871 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns). Running back Tripp Graham (1,266 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns) has also produced for the explosive offense, but could miss his second straight game.
5. Bring a crowd: Westlake, I know the game's 81 miles from campus, but your loyal fans need to join you at the Alamodome, and paint it red and blue in the process. Brandeis, in comparison, is only 19 miles away, so you can expect plenty of orange and the other shade of blue. If the game's close, expect the crowd to affect the outcome.