Consistency is key for the Cedar Park offense, especially against one of the best defensive teams it has seen all season.
The Timberwolves’ offensive unit has gained confidence over the past month and they will look to stay undefeated in district play and push their winning streak to five games when they welcome Georgetown to Gupton Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m.
“We’ve had moments where we’ve been really good and then moments where we don’t do a good job of executing,” Cedar Park head coach Carl Abseck said. “Our passing game has been good and pretty consistent, but we need to be better running the ball. That’s something I think Georgetown is going to force us to do. I think if you try really hard to take away one thing, you open some things up in other areas.”
The Cedar Park air attack averages nearly 300 yards a game.
Sophomore quarterback Ryder Hernandez has 1,354 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air this season. Senior receivers Carson Neel (49 receptions, 767 yards, eight touchdowns) and Brandon Breed (15 receptions, 347 yards, five touchdowns) are the top two receivers.
The running game is much more spread out, with 10 different players combining for 666 yards and seven touchdowns on the season. Jonathan Stockwell leads the group with 274 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Cedar Park has not had a 100-yard rusher in a single game this season.
“It’s just one of those deals where it takes some time to build some continuity on your offensive line,” Abseck said. “We had four new starters on the offensive line this year. We have three running backs that are all growing in that role. It takes a little time to figure out where everybody fits.”
After having a bye in the first week of district play, Georgetown opened with a 38-14 against Hutto. Despite the loss, the Eagles’ defense held the Hippos, who had been averaging 56 points per game before last week, to their lowest offensive output of the season.
The other loss Georgetown has this year was a 48-8 loss to Stephenville in which the Eagles tired the ball over five times.
Offensively, the Eagles are balanced, averaging 205.4 yards through the air and 159.4 rushing yards each game.
Quarterback Jackson Sioson has thrown for 1,066 yard and 10 touchdowns while receiver Noah Drum has caught five touchdown and 464 yards. They have five different rushers that have a combined 767 yards and five scores, led by Xavier Torres’ 395 yard and three touchdowns.
“They’re a well-rounded football team,” Abseck said. “They’re doing a good job at taking away what people want to do best and making them go into their second part of their offense. They’re going to give us their best shot.”
Coming into the season, the Cedar Park defense was once again expected to be strong, and the last few weeks have only been better. The Timberwolves have held their last three opponents (Katy Cinco Ranch, Round and Connally) to under 14 points.
The defensive line group of Jacob Munoz, Ben Bell and Jesiah Whittington have combined for 78 tackles and 45 tackles for loss.
Friday’s matchup against the Eagles and next week’s trip to Hutto to take on the high-powered Hippos will be the biggest tests of the season for the defense as all three teams have their sights set on a district title.
“They have a tremendous work ethic and take pride in what they do,” Abseck said. “As the year has gone by, the guys that have that experience had led us and the guys gaining experience are getting better. As a result, they’ve have improved and hopefully, we’ll continue to do so.”
Glenn at Cedar Creek
Bastrop Memorial Stadium, Cedar Creek
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Both the Grizzlies and the Eagles have been surprising early on this season. Glenn has shown its ability to put up points, scoring at least 30 points in three straight games, including a lopsided 62-29 win to open district play on the road against Elgin. Khorin Thompson has been a do-it-all player for Glenn, tallying 250 and one touchdown rushing and 143 yards and a touchdown through the air. The Grizzlies have 1,146 rushing yards this season, good for more than 200 yards a game. Cedar Creek opened district play with an upset win against Brenham, a playoff team from a season ago. The Eagles then played rival Bastrop close last Friday night, losing 29-28. They have a balanced offense but have two solid running backs in Dominic Mojica (450 yards, three touchdowns) and Aaron Perales Jr. (303 yards, three touchdowns) for the Glenn defense to key on.
Rouse at Manor
Mustang Stadium, Manor
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Raiders look to snap a three-game losing streak when they head south of town to face the Mustangs, who dropped down to Class 5A this season. Rouse lost its first game of the district schedule to Cedar Park and fell to another new Class 5A school in Pflugerville last Friday night. Other than in games against state-ranked teams, the Raiders' offense has been able to move the ball and put up some points. They average more than 181 yards a game on the ground thanks in large part to running backs Tavian Tate (423 yards, six touchdowns), Mylan Mitchell (324 yards, three touchdowns) and quarterback Ethan Moore (280 yards, four touchdowns). Defensively, the Raiders have three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, led by Everton Ruff with one each. Manor opened the District 5A, Division I schedule with a 38-7 win against Pflugerville. The Raiders and Mustangs have met each of the last two seasons, with Manor winning last year and Rouse coming away victorious in 2016.
Round Rock at Leander
Bible Stadium, Leander
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Dragons lost their first district game of the season last week at home against Vandegrift in heartbreaking fashion, giving up three fourth down conversions on the final drive of the game en route to the 27-24 loss. Round Rock is always going to be a threat running the ball with senior running back Marquis Brown and senior quarterback Ryan O'Keefe. The duo has combined for 1,267 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground this season. Leander is almost as proficient at running the ball. Senior quarterback Rashad Carter has picked up the new triple-option seamlessly and has racked up 729 yards and nine scores this year. He had four games with 100-plus rushing yards. Xavier Dotson is second on the team with 413 yards and three scores, while Addison LaRue 239 yards and a pair of touchdowns. One of the oldest rivalries in the area, Leander has won three in a row in the series when then teams were district foes from 2008-2011.
McNeil at Vandegrift
Monroe Stadium, Austin
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Mavs have been somewhat of a surprise this season and are currently locked in a three-way tie with Round Rock and Cedar Ridge for third place in the district at 2-1. McNeil's offense has not bee afraid to put up points, averaging 36 points per game and boasting win over Vista Ridge and Westwood. The air-raid offense has centered around Zane Kampfer and Jordan Kerley. The quarterback has tossed 15 touchdowns so far this season and thrown for 1,426 yards while Kerley has 39 receptions for 682 yards and eight touchdowns. Winston Hutchinson leads the ground attack with 635 and six touchdowns. But the Vipers have proven they know how to win every kind of way. They converted three fourth-down conversions en route to a fourth-quarter win over Round Rock last Friday, they blew out Leander ISD rival Vista Ridge and they used overtime to top defending district champions Cedar Ridge in the first game of district play. The Vipers won the only two meetings between the teams in 2012 and 2013.
Vista Ridge at Stony Point
Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex, Round Rock
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Rangers got a much-needed win last Friday night against Leander ISD rivals Leander. Head coach Rodney Vincent has emphasized all season the importance of finishing drives, and Vista Ridge was able to do just that in the 59-41 shootout win, their first of the year. The Rangers put up more than 600 yards of offense, led by Kyle Brown with 175 passing yards and a touchdown and Thailand Mayberry, who rushed for 248 yards and three scores in the win. Nick Podolak and Adam Fogg each caught a touchdown for Vista Ridge while junior Bryce Christian led the team with 10 tackles. Stony Point quarterback Kyle Overton when down with an injury late in the Tigers' loss to Hendrickson last Thursday night. Jackson Tingler has appeared in two games under center for Stony Point this season. But the Tigers' offense struggled in their loss to the Hawks, gaining just 50 yards of offense. The Tigers beat the Rangers in 2008 and 2009 when the two were in the same district.