Westlake (12-1) got news earlier this week that it was hoping to avoid. For the rest of the season, the Chaparrals will be without senior starting quarterback Taylor Anderson. He hurt his ankle and lower leg in the first half of last week's regional semifinals win against Edinburg Vela, so his high school playing career has concluded.
It's the latest loss for Westlake, who plays San Antonio Brandeis (11-2) on Saturday for the UIL 6A Division II Region IV title. All-state center Blake Webster was also lost to a broken leg in the November 2nd game against Austin Anderson, and 1,200-yard rusher Tripp Graham has been out since the San Antonio Brennan area round playoff game. That means the Chaparrals' season will come down to the remaining players' production.
"With Taylor being out, I think everyone on the offense has felt that we all need to step up collectively to try and make up for him being out," said Westlake junior receiver Mason Mangum. "For me, my mindset is just to be as productive as I can by trying to score every time I touch the ball, make big catches and get first downs to help us move the chains."
Mangum is notable because he's the team's leading receiver. So far in 2018, he has 1,019 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. He's going to connect with junior backup quarterbacks Drew Willoughby and Kirkland Michaux, who have been successful in limited action this season. That was evident in last week's win, when both threw for a second half touchdown pass.
"With Kirkland and Drew, I’ve grown up playing with both of them, and have been able to get some time on the field with them the past two years, so I’m very comfortable with both QBs," said Mangum. "It’s different with them than with Taylor because they all have a little bit different playing style."
That comfort level should result in on-field offensive success on Saturday.
"I think on offense we need to play the way we can play, and not get in our own way with penalties or turnovers," said Mangum. "That kind of thing."
And don't worry about Westlake's defense. It's recorded five shutouts in 2018.
"I think our defense just needs to play to their standard," said Mangum. "If they do that, I’m confident that they can hold Brandeis to low scoring."
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