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Hill Country high school football: LBJ High makes history, Westlake reaches state championship for third straight year

Westlake High School and legendary head coach Todd Dodge are set for their third state championship game in a row after winning the semifinals on Saturday. (Westlake Nation/Twitter)

The annual fight for "Best in Texas" has come to an exciting head as Central Texas high school football teams LBJ, Westlake and Liberty Hill advanced to the state championship over the weekend. Meanwhile, fellow Hill Country team Lake Travis, which also made a bid for state, fumbled a chance to take on rivals Westlake in a semifinal loss on Saturday.

Here's an update on the legendary high schools' latest moves toward the state championship:

LBJ makes history

As the only Austin ISD school to make state this year, LBJ did it with a bang, scraping past Tyler Chapel Hill in a 38-35 win to earn the school's first state championship berth on Saturday night.

The Jaguars hopped to a 20-7 lead in the first half before nearly losing it all to Chapel Hill. Down four points with nine seconds left to go, LBJ's Noah Baker pushed his team over the edge with a touchdown pass from quarterback Oscar Gordon to give them a chance at their first state title.

The Jaguars will be the first AISD team to reach the state championships since 1973 as they take on Stephenville High School at At&T Stadium for the S4A Division 1 championship game on Friday morning.

Surprise—No. 1 Westlake wins

Historic Westlake High football coach Todd Dodge could be tallying his seventh state championship title as the Westlake Chaparrals advanced to the state championship game for the third year in a row on Saturday.

Despite a tough matchup against fellow football royalty school Katy, Dodge and the rest of the 15-0 team advanced to their third straight state championship as they took down Katy 45-14 at Baylor's McClane Stadium in Waco on Saturday afternoon.

A key cog in the undefeated Westlake machine is quarterback Cade Klubnik, a Clemson 5-star commit who has helped the Chaparrals win each game by at least 20 points this season. The senior continued his streak and threw for 309 yards and five touchdowns in the semifinal match.

The high school football titans jumped to a 38-0 lead before No. 2 Katy could rally a single point of their own, succeeding on each drive until they were forced to punt in the fourth quarter. Runningback Jack Keyser, Westlake's not-so-secret offensive weapon, got the ball rolling with a 48-yard touchdown to start the game. Keyser would go on to complete 140 yards rushing in the game.

Dodge, who is set to retire after this season, will lead the team to the Class 6A Division II state championship against the winner of a Guyer-Tomball matchup this Saturday night. The team will look to honor Dodge and secure their third straight state title at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

Lake Travis loses to North Shore, again

Lake Travis may have been the last team to beat Westlake 30+ games ago, but the district rivals came up short as they suffered a 63-21 loss to the Chaparrals in the district championship on Nov. 4. And for the third time in four years, the team's triumphant playoff run was stymied by North Shore in the state semifinals in a 49-21 loss in Round Rock on Saturday.

In the almost-home match, the team lost their footing early as North Shore freshman quarterback Kaleb Bailey routed an 83-yard touchdown pass to David Adimora on the first play from scrimmage.

Lake Travis was able to a respond with a Chernet Estes touchdown from quarterback Bo Edmunson. After a 62-yard touchdown from Bailey, the Cavs found a 47-yard touchdown run from Derrick Johnson with more than half of the second quarter still to go.

But a 21-point run from the Mustangs brought Lake Travis down to a 35-14 deficit into halftime. And North Shore kept their momentum into the second half, scoring twice more before Ohio State commit Caleb Burton brought the game to a final score of 49-21.

It's a disappointing end for the always-good, not-quite-the-best Cavs, who have reached the state semifinals for six of the last seven years.

Liberty Hill is state bound

In a rematch after last year's overtime loss, Liberty Hill defeated Crosby 42-14 Friday to advance to the 5A Division II State Championships for the first time since 2018.

The dominating scoreline was owed in part to a staunch Panthers defense as well as Joe Pitchford and Noah Long, who each scored twice to put the Panthers above the rival team. Pitchford started off scoring for his team with both of the first two touchdowns, while Long capped off the win with a 25-yard run to end the game 42-14.

The Panthers will take on South Oak Cliff in the 5A Division II state championship at 11 a.m. one Saturday at AT&T Stadium.


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