Last century, Lake Travis football sucked. It was not just that they were a losing program since their inception, they were considered soft, rich lake kids that ran the spread long before it was popular and never had a defense. Golf, soccer, basketball, baseball, those sports flourished and produced elite players. Then something happened after the turn of the century.
Football finally got a meanass coach, one who also was trying to pull himself up from the bootstraps after serving on the staff of state championship teams but wasn't finding life out in the hinterlands too successful. The football culture did a turnaround, the softness tag was soon forgotten and the Cavaliers started winning. The transformation came to completion this past year with a Class 4A-Div. II state championship under the leadership of a talented quarterback, Garret Gilbert.
However, there was one notch still left to carve, one that was so close that it always hurt no matter how much they accomplished: their next door neighbor, Westlake, who had been the powerhouse Lake Travis only saw in their dreams. For decades there were beaten on the field like step-children kidnaped by pirates. Westlake was richer, closer to Austin, older, faster, had more famous UT sons, had a sports reporter who lived there and adored them and gave them ink by the barrel. Lake Travis just had a neo-European name from another era, Cavaliers, and a rich but not rich enough chip on their shoulder. The only things the Cavs ever ran over were the thousands of deer who insisted that every road and pathway belonged to them.
That all changed Thursday night on a televised broadcast. Led by QB Garrett Gilbert, LT turned Westlake's mistakes into points, played some decent defense against the Chaps outstanding running attack and whipped their nemesis, 38-17.
Gilbert led the way, accounting for four touchdowns, one via a 48-yard pass to Chris Aydan that severely wounded the Chaps just before halftime, and ran for three more as the Westlake defense was spread all over the field. Gilbert completed 14 of 30 for 212 yards and added 82 more on the ground for 294 total yards and 4 TDs. He showed good elusiveness and strength on his runs. He's not blazing fast, but he did know where to exploit the seams in Westlake's defense, especially when the Cavs got close to the goal line.
Gilbert had several drops by wide open players, one that was a sure TD and two more that had a chance. He threw away the ball to avoid taking sacks. At times Westlake mounted a good rush, but LT knows how to squeeze the accordion, stretching them long and then wide, running enough to force the D in tight, then attacking the edges.
LT has a mature attack that even had a Q-Package early in the game, with Gilbert split out left and a pass was completed to him but a lineman down field penalty negated the play. Wonder how that got in there?
The key play came late in the second quarter when Westlake was driving while down 14-10, with the running of Ryan Swope (120 yards in the first half) gouging the Cav's D. Instead of sticking to the ground, Westlake went to the pass and was intercepted at the 5. Gilbert's great aerial for 31 yards on a third-down scramble from his own end zone got them out of trouble, and seconds later he hit the 48-yarder to Ayden, his key receiver, to complete a 95-yard against-the-clock drive and run the edge to 21-10. Westlake muffed the pooch kick, and LT added a field goal as time ran out for a 24-10 halftime lead the Chaps would never really challenge. LT gave up yardage, but didn't break until late in the fourth.
Gilbert showed his stars on that critical drive. Escaping the rush in the EZ and calmly finding a receiver and whistling a pass right in the gut; managing the clock as it ran down and finding a mid-range receiver in the CB/safety seam that went for the TD showed his vision and experienced presence in the pocket.
4th and 5 was at the game and reported in Horns757's fanpost:
He played smart and efficiently, killing them with patience in the pocket. I remember one time the pocket was collapsing around him, but he kept going through his checks and then stepped into the pocket to make a big completion. I love a patient QB that doesn’t force it, and he rarely did.
He also reported that OT Paden Kelly looked good matched up against 5A Westlake.
Feel free to add any other insights and observations. I have to be elsewhere for the rest of the afternoon but will catch back up this evening.
I always like to see someone overcome their nemesis. I suspect everyone from Lake Travis driving to Austin went through Bee Cave Rd. and Westlake Drive this morning just show off their victory with 38-17 painted in giant letters. And they can keep doing it for a year. Congratulations on a victory long time coming.