There was a laundry list of challenges for Cedar Park entering Friday night’s Top 10 match up against Hutto.
Trying to shut down one of the most potent offenses in the district one week after giving up two touchdowns to one of the worst, replacing two three-year starters in the starting lineup while trying to extend its district winning streak to 23 games spanning three seasons.
All three were accomplished as the No. 3 Timberwolves beat the No. 5 Hippos 35-25 to take control of the race for the District 19-5A title.
“They are a great offense but we are a great defense too,” Cedar Park coach Carl Abseck said. “Our defensive staff did a great job of preparing them and the kids got after them. That’s what we expect of them and that’s what tradition says they’re going to do.”
The Timberwolves clinched at least a share of the district crown and can win outright next Friday night on the road against 3-4 Elgin.
Cedar Park held the Hippos to minus 27 yards rushing thanks in part to four sacks. Hutto running back Chux Nwabuko, who averaged nearly 90 yards a game in the first eight games of the year, was held to six yards on the ground.
Hippos quarterback Chase Griffin still had a productive night, throwing for 356 yards and two touchdowns. But a big chunk of that yardage came late in the fourth quarter when Hutto scored a pair of touchdowns aided by long passes to cut the lead to 10 points.
“I knew they were going to pass a lot,” Cedar Park linebacker Keegan Nicholas said. “I give the credit to the D-line. They opened up holes and you’ve just kind of got to time it out. We got after him and that was our goal.”
Cedar Park quarterback Ryan Fiala has thrown for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns since taking over for Mak Sexton, who broke his leg in the first quarter of the Timberwolves’ win against Georgetown on Oct. 20.
The sophomore had the best game of his young career with Sexton looking on from the sidelines, throwing for 234 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
“With three touchdown passes and no turnovers, that’s more than we could ask anybody to do,” Abseck said. “He just stayed within his game and play his game and he did a great job of that tonight.”
Cedar Park scored two touchdowns and held Hutto to field goals on its first two scoring drives. The Timberwolves tried a fake punt late in the second quarter and the Hippos responded with their only touchdown of the half just before the break.
The first play of the second half was a 56-yard bomb from Fiala to junior Brandon Breed, who finished with a team-high 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns on four receptions.
“We came out not knowing what to expect and ran our normal offense and got the job done,” Breed said. “Going into the game, everybody put us as the underdogs. We knew that we weren't and we were prepared.”
Abseck knows the defense wasn’t happy with the win against Connally last week. Any suggestion that the ‘Black Rain’ was losing its dominance was snuffed out Friday night.
“We did what we do,” Abseck said. “I think they took it upon themselves to match the tradition of the Cedar Park defense and they did a great job of that tonight. The challenge was thrown down to them and great defenses win.”