Hill Country high school football: LBJ High makes history, Westlake reaches state championship for third straight year
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.
Texas High School Football. #txhsfb#txhsfbplayoffs
With 9 seconds remaining.
LBJ - 38
Chapel Hill - 35 pic.twitter.com/A0RXe8Hmz2
— Brandon Howard (@BHoward_11) December 11, 2021
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.
💥 BAM 💥
The Westlake D is bringing the HEAT, watch them LIVE on @Texan_Live !#txhsfb | @Westlake_Nation | @ColtonVasekpic.twitter.com/rCc2tTH0W7
— Dave Campbell's Texas Football — TexasFootball.com (@dctf) December 11, 2021
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.
It's BO time ⏰
He gets Lake Travis tied with North Shore. Watch the game LIVE on @Texan_Live !#txhsfb | @LTHSCavFootball | @NSNationFB | @BoEdmundsonpic.twitter.com/s5IKblGe0D
— Dave Campbell's Texas Football — TexasFootball.com (@dctf) December 11, 2021
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.
Liberty Hill is going back to the State Championship game with a 42-14 win over Crosby. Head coach Kent Walker after the game on the same field they lost the same game against Crosby in overtime in January. . @KXAN_News@LH_Panthers_FBpic.twitter.com/gsj27bSLtk
— Roger Wallace (@rwallacekxan) December 11, 2021
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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Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
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Hours following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, on Friday, about 1,000 people gathered in Republic Square with signs calling for change.
The rally, organized by the group Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights Texas, started at the federal courthouse on Republic Square on Friday at 5 p.m. before the crowd marched to the Texas Capitol. More protests are expected to ensue over the weekend.
People showed up with all types of signs like Mindy Moffa holding up, "Keep your filthy laws off my silky drawers."
Austin joined cities across the country that saw protests for a women's right to an abortion after the ruling.
According to a recent UT poll, 78% of Texas voters support abortion access in most cases.
Sabrina Talghade and Sofia Pellegrini held up signs directed at Texas laws. A Texas trigger law will ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, starting 30 days after the ruling. When state legislators passed the trigger law last summer, it also passed laws for more protection of firearms, including the right to open carry without a permit.
Lili Enthal of Austin yells as around 1,000 Texans marched to the Texas Capitol.
From the Texas Capitol, Zoe Webb lets her voice be heard against the Supreme Court ruling.
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