HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Vipers not letting emotions effect preparation

Vandgrift is coming off an OT win over Cedar Ridge and travels to face off with Hendrickson on Friday

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Vandegrift is being careful not to let last week’s wave of emotions hinder this week’s preparation. 

The Vipers rallied in the fourth quarter and kicked a field goal to hand Cedar Ridge its first district loss in two seasons. But they are trying to stay focused with state quarterfinalist Hendrickson next up Friday at 7 p.m. at The Pfield in Pflugerville. 

“It was huge for us to come back,” Vandegrift quarterback Dru Dawson said. “It was a boost in confidence. But we need to have a great week of practice and not get too high about last week and just keep moving on to the next game.”

Hendrickson rolled in their first district game of the season, trouncing Westwood 64-14. It was just the second game of the year for the Hawks after their final non-district game was canceled due to weather. 

Defensively, Hendrickson limited Westwood to just 13 yards and just a pair of first downs while coming away with two interceptions. 

Senior quarterback Blaine Barker paced the Hawks’ offense, rushing for 101 yards and one touchdown and passing for 81 yards and two scores. Timieone Jackson ran for 85 yards and a touchdown and Dre Conley had two rushing touchdowns. 

Hendrickson scored on its first eight drives of the game. 

“Our defense is really talented this year,” Vandegrift linebacker Jax McCauley said. “Hendrickson is a fast, athletic team with a good quarterback with very good receivers so we’re going to have to try and contain them, but I think our defense is very capable of doing that.”

Vandegrift held Cedar Ridge to just 14 points, just the third time they haven’t eclipsed that mark since 2014. The Raiders averaged 41.2 points per game last season on their way to the state semifinals. 

McCauley had a massive game for the Vipers in their win over the Raiders, leading the team with two tackles and finishing with two tackles for loss. He said the main focus this week is bottling up the Hawks’ quarterback. 

“Our defense is riding high right now,” he said. 

Dawson has been solid leading the offense this season, passing for 420 yards and six touchdowns in three games. Trey Mongauzy has been his top target, catching 14 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns. 

Isaiah Smallwood leads the team with 284 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

The Vipers open district play with the top two District 13-6A teams from a season ago that faced off against each other in the state quarterfinals. The Hawks had the second-best defense in the district last season, allowing just over 22 points a game. 

“It tests our team well and gets us ready for the rest of the season,” Dawson said. “We’re all competitors and we enjoy it, so it’ll be fun. They’re a really physical team. If we can do the little things right and play hard, we can get the job done.”

Following their clash with the Hawks, the Viper host Leander ISD rivals Vista Ridge on Sept. 28 and travel to face the high-octane offense of Round Rock on Oct. 5.

A win on Friday would give Vandegrift a 4-0 record for the third time in school history. 

“We want to keep our foot on the gas,” McCauley said. “We’re 1-0 in district and we need to just keep playing the way we are.”

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