HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Strength on strength: Explosive Cedar Ridge hosts Cedar Park

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Cedar Park and Cedar Ridge are coming into the second week of the season from totally different ends of the spectrum. 

Even with a strong defensive performance, the Timberwolves lost to Vandegrift for the second straight year and were shut out in the process. The Raiders got revenge for last season’s opening loss to Temple with a dominant offensive performance and win. 

It will be strength against strength when the two face off at Gupton Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m.

The Cedar Park defense is one of the most well-known traditional powers in Central Texas, and they did a fine job against a very good Vandegrift defense last Friday night, holding them to just over 150 yards passing and 180 rushing yards, most of which came on a late 54-yard touchdown run. 

That was the one phase Timberwolves’ head coach Carl Abseck was most proud of after the game against the Vipers, and it’ll have to show up against the Raiders, too. 

But Cedar Ridge has one of the most electric running backs in the area in Chris ‘Deuce’ Vaughn. The Kansas State Pledge had 104 rushing yards, 76 receiving yards and 97 yards a kick return for a touchdown. 

Defensively, the Raiders had five interceptions and recovered one fumble in their week-one win over Temple and forced a turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. 

The turnover bug is something that hit the Timberwolves in the game against Vandegrift, as quarterback Ryder Hernandez was intercepted twice and Cedar Park lost one possession via fumble. 

Cedar Park was adamant about succeeding on the ground this season but had just 30 combined rushing yards in its opener. The Raiders’ defense allowed the second-fewest points in District 13-6A last season, trailing only Vandegrift and Hendrickson. 

The Timberwolves will still have two games left following this week’s clash with he Raiders before starting district play, traveling to face San Angelo Central before hosting Katy Cinco Ranch. 

Cedar Ridge jumps right into district play against the only team that handed them a loss last year when they host Vandegrift next Friday night. 

Follow @ByZachSmith and @HCNSports on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on all local and regional sports. 

Email: sports@hillcountrynews.com 

Other games: 

Killeen vs. Vista Ridge

Thursday, 7 p.m.

Gupton Stadium

The Rangers have already shown that they are better than a season ago. Vista Ridge downed Leander ISD rival Rouse 27-6 in the first game of the season last Friday night. Junior quarterback Kyle brown threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another two scores in their win against the Raiders. Defensively, senior Cannon Kromis made 11 tackles. Killeen, meanwhile, lost to Stony Point 25-20 in the opener. The Kangaroos beat the Rangers 43-6 a season ago. 

Vandegrift vs. Ellison

Thursday, 7 p.m.

Leo Buckley Stadium, Killeen

The Vipers won their 12th straight regular-season game last week with a 17-0 win over Cedar Park. It’s the first time Vandegrift had downed the Timberwolves in back-to-back games in the history of the rivalry. The offense was efficient, as Dru Dawson passed for 150 yards and a touchdown and Bowen Lewis had 142 rushing yards and a score. But the defense is what really shined for Vandegrift. Jax McCauley had 15 total tackles while Jivon Parker added 14. The defense combined for nine sacks and 10 QB hurries. The Vipers flew past Ellison 28-12 last season. 

Leander vs. Pflugerville

Thursday, 7 p.m.

The Pfield, Pflugerville 

For at least the first quarter of the Lions’ opener against Weiss, they looked like a team that could do some damage. Leander moved the ball efficiently and scored on the first drive of the season. Eventually, Weiss beat the Lions 23-14 to win their first varsity game. Now, first-year head coach Kris Price will look to stretch that kind of lay to a full four quarters against Pflugerville, which beat a very different looking Lions team 37-20 last season. The Panthers — in their second full season since dropping down from Class 6A — lost to Bowie 42-21 last week. 

Anderson vs. Rouse

Friday, 7 p.m.

Bible Stadium

Rouse is a far better team than the box score or final score will lead you to believe. The Raiders had a tough matchup against a good Vista Ridge team to open the season. In his first start at quarterback, senior Jack Wingard passed for 51 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 64 yards in the 27-6 loss. Anderson downed rival McCallum 29-7 in the Taco Shack Bowl. The Trojans scored 12 points in the final two quarters to come from behind and beat Rouse 25-20 last season. 

Glenn vs. McNeil

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex

It’s hard to not look at both Glenn and McNeil’s season last year and see the similarities. The Grizzlies lost the opener in lopsided fashion to Liberty Hill, while the Mavericks were stifled by Del Valle in the first game of the season. Both of those things happened again this time around. McNeil won a lightning-shortened game last season, but Glenn went on to win a share of the district title in its first varsity season. Both teams lost plenty of firepower from last season, but both will once again be looking to bounce back with a win. 

Stony Point vs. Harker Heights 

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Leo Buckley Stadium, Killeen

If the first game of the season is any indication, you can never count out the Tigers. Stony Point scored 13 unanswered points in the second half to beat Killeen 25-20 on the road. Kyle Overton finished with 211 passing yards and rushed for 125 yards and two scores. Sophomore Jaden Leonard had 32 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Sophomore Jake Chambers led the Stony Point defense with nine tackles, one for a loss. Harder Heights own comeback came up short in a 42-34 loss to Round Rock in the first game. The Tigers beat the Knight 21-14 a season ago. 

Round Rock vs. Belton

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Tiger Stadium, Belton

The Dragons got their season off to a good start with a 42-34 win against Harker Heights. Seth Ford threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Collins Sullivan caught nine passes for 183 yards and a score, and Round Rock rushers combined for 235 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The Round Rock defense, which was one of the worst in the district last season, only gave up 14 points in the second half. Belton was shit out 48-0 against Westlake to start the year. The Dragons beat the Tigers 45-24 last season. 

Westwood vs. Austin

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

House Park, Austin

The Warriors opened the season in heartbreaking fashion, losing 42-35 to East View on Thursday night. Westwood scored in the final seconds to tie the game and send it extra time. The pass-happy Warriors were led by R.J. Martinez and his 392 yards and three touchdowns through the air and two touchdowns on the ground. Jace Lyne (136 yards), Oliver Yu (79 yards) and Nate Anderson (20 yards) all caught a touchdown. Austin beat Connally 51-49 to start the year. Westwood won 49-35 last season. 

Lampasas vs. Lago Vista

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Lago Vista Stadium

Lago Vista got back to its winning ways with a 41-21 win on the road against Blanco last week. The Vikings are just a few years removed from winning a district title and, with a senior-heavy class, look to push for the postseason and a district title this season. Lampasas is not an easy task, as the Badgers went two rounds deep in the postseason last year and opened this season with a dominant 63-14 win over Joshua. Lampasas beat Lago Vista 42-7 a season ago. 

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