CONVERSE – Last year’s area round match between Judson and Lake Travis was a virtual stalemate. Both teams had, and blew, double-digit leads. The game came down to a pair of Rocket mistakes, a snap over the punter’s head, and then-QB Julon Williams stepping out of bounds right before throwing a long completion. The Cavaliers escaped DKR with the win, and ended up in the gold medal game.
The Rockets remember that ending, and certainly know that this is a big opportunity to write another chapter to their program’s history, when they play Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome for the fourth time since 2016. Each team has six state championships.
Neither team has been challenged in the knockout rounds so far in 2018, and most of the players are the same. Garrett Wilson remains the top receiver in the state, and QB Hudson Card had a couple touchdown catches as a wide receiver last year. Williams is in college, but Mike Chandler has picked up where Williams left off. Rashad Wisdom, DeMarvin Leal, and Jahleel Rice remember that game well.
“We need to be more prepared,” Leal said. “Last year we weren’t as prepared as we needed to be.”
Wisdom had a pick-six against Reagan, and will be a key factor again.
"Just go off what our coaches tell us," said Leal. "Just doing what we are taught to do. Mentally and physically preparing ourselves. We’ve played them three times in the last couple years, so you have an idea how they are, but they have a new offensive coordinator, so they may have a new scheme, but we know a lot about the personnel they have."
As for Wilson and Card, they remember last year, and expect another battle in a game that could draw at least 15,000 fans.
"I expect a lot of energy out of them," said Wilson. "They are well-coached, and have good players. I can’t wait to play them. We’ve played against them the last couple years, and they always have a great defense. We have to play good assignment football."
"They are a great team, and have a lot of great players back," said Card. "It will be a good matchup. I played receiver against them last year, so I have an idea about their defense."
When Judson ran past Reagan in this year’s area round, it was the offensive line that was the difference, and will factor in again on Saturday.
"I like being under the radar," said offensive lineman Rice. "We are silent killers. We play hard, do our job, and our backs perform off of it. It starts at practice. The effort that you give, and we appreciate our scout team players giving us good looks that prepare us for Fridays."
The other linemen include John Basaldua, Robert Rigsby, Kyle Maudin, and Tamorique McBrewer.
Chandler will look to be the first local quarterback to beat Lake Travis in the playoffs since 2004, when Matt Meade and Alamo Heights beat the Cavs. That was three years before LT began its 5A/6A dynasty. In 2016 and 2017, Judson swept a season-opening home-and-home with Lake Travis, but this is just the second playoff meeting between the schools.
Last year: 11/25/17: Lake Travis 47, Judson 39. At DKR, both teams lost double-digit leads, but Garrett Wilson had three-second half touchdowns, and the Cavs took advantage of a bad snap on a Judson punt to put the game away. Judson outgained LT 509-364.