Division II shows dominance, Division I falls – District 25-4A Week 12 Recap

KC Grimes, Asst. Sports Editor

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The 2nd week of football playoffs, Week 12, halved the competition in the 4A playoff brackets as teams battled for the Area Championship. Lake Travis, Dripping Springs and Vandegrift all struggled somewhat, but Dripping Springs and LT managed to come out on top in the end as Vandegrift lost in the final seconds against Tivy. 

The Vandegrift Vipers traveled to Rutledge Stadium in Converse, Texas to compete against the Tivy Antlers out of Kerville, Texas for the Area Championship. The Antlers, representing District 28-4A, posed a real threat against the Vipers compared to Vandegrift’s last few expected wins. Despite Tivy’s history of well-played football and playoff advances, Vandegrift and Tivy matched up well on the field.

The Vipers started out on defense after an excellent kickoff. To set the tempo, the Vipers pushed the Antlers back with multiple stops and a sack; then managed to block the resulting punt. Elliot Byrd picked up the ball off the turf after the punt and ran 21 yards up field to the Tivy 20-yard line. The Viper offense took the field and continued the intensity with short but effective runs by seniors Dakota Prukop and Yuron Shears for a first down and more, followed up by another run from Prukop for an early touchdown. After the extra point by senior Rand Fredrickson, the Vipers led 7-0.

Fredrickson bombed the kickoff, sending the ball into and out of the end zone, setting the Tivy offense up on the 20-yard line. The Antlers answered the Viper touchdown with one of their own, using multiple short but effective five to ten yard plays to get into the Vandegrift red zone before junior quarterback Parks McNeil ran four yards into the end zone. Following senior Zach Qualls’ extra point, the Antlers tied the game 7-7.

Tristen Paffe received the kickoff and put the Viper offense on their own 25-yard line. Vandegrift was unable to penetrate the Antler defense, being forced into punting but then getting blocked, starting the Antlers in the Vandegrift red zone. Defensive juniors James Hallonquist and Mason Hargreaves had good stops but were unable to hold Tivy for long as Antler senior wide receiver Kason Fornes slipped through for a Tivy touchdown with a 15-yard pass reception from McNeil. Qualls had a successful extra point and put Tivy in front 7-14.

Vandegrift started their drive again from the 25-yard line, but make it only to their own 30-yard line before being forced to punt again. Fredrickson was able to get the punt off quickly, sending it deep and setting the Tivy offense up on the Antler 26 yard line.

The Viper defense answered back with their own forced 3 ‘n out with a near interception bringing the Viper offense back onto the field at the Vandegrift 45-yard line. Shears immediately charged through the Tivy defense for a long run, finally brought down inside the Tivy 20-yard line. The Vipers made it to the five-yard line before being forced back, left only with a 21-yard field goal opportunity. Fredrickson made the field goal, setting the score to 14-10 with Tivy up ten minutes from the half.

Tivy started with fair field position on their own 30-yard line and managed to reach the Viper’s 25-yard line with runs by McNeil and Fornes. Attempting fourth down after stops by the firm Vandegrift defense, McNeil threw an interception pass to junior Jordan Sonnier.

Following the interception, the Viper offense took the field but was unsuccessful and forced to punt, then getting the ball back after the Viper defense forces a Tivy punt. Posessions flip-flipped again as Tivy forces another Vandegrift punt, which was shanked and gave the Antlers possession on the Viper’s 48 yard line. Despite the field possession, the Viper defense held strong and forced another punt, setting the Vandegrift offense up on their own 14-yard line. Once again unsuccessful and not wanting to take any chances, the Vipers punted the ball away again, bringing the Antler offense onto the field again at their own 44-yard line.

The Tivy offensive drive was abruptly stopped as Prukop intercepted a McNeil pass, giving the Viper offense the ball back on the Viper 42-yard line with less than a minute remaining in the half. Unable to proceed any further, the Viper drive was stopped by the clock with the Antlers up 14-10.

The Vipers came out of the half with a strong drive from their own 30-yard line to the Tivy 25-yard line, featuring runs by Prukop and Shears. On a fourth down attempt, Prukop was just inches away from a first down, resulting in a turnover.

Tivy started in a tight spot on their own 23-yard line and were quickly stopped by the Viper defense, giving the Viper offense possession on the Viper’s own 28-yard line after a punt. Vandegrift is forced to punt again midfield, giving Tivy the ball on the Antler 18-yard line. The same thing happened to Tivy, and Vandegrift took over after the punt on their own 24-yard line. Tivy sophomore safety Billy Field forced another turnover by intercepting Prukop’s first pass of the drive, taking possession at the Viper 49-yard line as the third quarter ends.

The Tivy offense, determined to make something of their drive, made a fourth and long attempt 16-yards away from the first down and turned the play into a 24-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Braedon White.

Vandegrift took possession on their own 13-yard line after a kickoff and 15-yard penalty. With a pass from Prukop to Forrest Threadgill and strong runs by Prukop and Shears, the Vipers found themselves on the Antler 39-yard line. After an elusive run by Prukop, the Vipers were at first and goal from the 7-yard line. Following a run by Shears, Prukop went head-first into the end zone for a 2-yard Viper touchdown to cap off the 87-yard drive. Shears attempted the two-point conversion, but fell a yard short. The Antlers still led 21-16 with a mere seven minutes left on the clock.

Maintaining the much needed intensity, the Vipers force Tivy to 3 ‘n out and take possession on their own 49-yard line. The Antlers answered right back with a 3 n’ out of their own, resulting in a touchback and Antler possession on their own 20-yard line. The Vandegrift defense continued to play one of the best games of their season, forcing yet another punt from Tivy, giving the Vipers possession on their own 34-yard line with less than two minutes on the clock.

Short on time, the Vipers hope was raised after a long run by Prukop was followed by a 15-yard penalty against the Antlers, setting the ball up on Antler 19-yard line with only a minute left on the clock. After runs by Prukop, a holding call against the Vipers put them in a fourth and 12 situation on the 22-yard line with only eight seconds left on the clock. Prukop passed to senior Brandon Brown, who managed a first down but was tackled on the 5-yard line, short of a winning touchdown.

Controversy arose over the referee’s call of the game being final. In Texas, high school football utilizes NCAA rules, which state that on awarding of a new series of downs via first down, despite the play type or ball position, the game clock is to be stopped to allow time for ball and down marker reset by referees. Once the field is set, the referee would signal to restart the clock, unless the player had run out-of-bounds to end the play instead of being tackled in the field-of-play. Brown did succeed in crossing the 1st down marker but did not run out-of-bounds, in which case the game clock would stop until the referee signaled. Despite ruling, the clock keeper, who is not an elected official, did not stop the clock, and the quarter ran out. The referee declared that because the clock ran out, the game and score were final.

As the game was declared final by the head official, the Vandegrift Vipers lost 16-21 against the Tivy Antlers in a hard fought battle for the Area Championship title. Because of the loss, the Viper’s season was ended and they will now enter off-season after the Thanksgiving break. Combined, Shears and Prukop ran for 272 yards. Prukop threw for 73 yards over eight completions. Fredrickson had an outstanding night, having two touchbacks and a field goal.

 

The Cedar Park Timberwolves battled it out against the Hays Rebels at the Burger Center in downtown Austin. The Timberwolves won easily, ending the game with a shutout score of 42-0. Cedar Park dominated both sides of the ball using its size to power through the opposing line. With 372 yards rushing, 212 of which by senior Brian Hogan, and a mere 36 yards passing. The Cedar Park defense allowed only 34 yards rushing and 106 yards passing from senior quarterback Caleb Kimbro.

With the title of Area Champions, the Timberwolves move on to play Weslaco East Texas Wildcats at the Alamodome for the Regional Championship. Cedar Park had no problem with the Wildcats, shutting them out 49-0. The Timberwolf defense stopped Wildcat senior quarterback John Arevalo’s passing game completely, allowing only 25-yards passing and forcing the ball to stay on the ground, accumulating only 157-yards rushing. Timberwolf senior quarterback Brian Hogan led Cedar Park with two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown to senior Alex Curl. Thomas Middleton and Ethan Fry led the Timberwolves in rushing yards and had one touchdown each.

The Lake Travis Cavaliers traveled to the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas to meet the Smithson Valley Rangers for the Area Championship. The Rangers started out strong and the Cavs sloppy as Smithson Valley leads the first quarter 0-7. Lake Travis does come back, as expected, but turning the ball over twice along the way. With a 42-21 win over the Rangers, the Cavaliers have little to cheer about after multiple mistakes on the field, similar to previous games. Lake Travis junior quarterback Baker Mayfield passed for 235 yards and ran for 58 of the 274 total rushing yards as well as a touchdown. Senior Collin Lagasse ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Griffin Gilbert had a mere 30 yards receiving for two touchdowns.

The Cavs moved on to play Flour Bluff, a school in Corpus Christi, Texas, at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio, Texas for the Regional Championship. The Cavaliers won without difficulty, rising high about the Hornets with a final score of 58-15. Lake Travis owned the first three quarters of the game, but, as usual, got too comfortable in the fourth quarter and allowed the Hornets 15 points. Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield had 212 yards passing for the Cavs, most of which to wide receivers senior Griffin Gilbert and junior Zach Austin. Sophomore running back Varshaun Nixon had 100-yards rushing for three touchdowns.

The Dripping Springs Tigers took the leap and a skip to Monroe Stadium in Austin to play Alamo Heights Mule, a consecutive playoff team out of San Antonio, Texas. The squads matched up well, entering overtime with a tie score of 3-3 after penalty-riddled regulation play, despite the Tigers having only 138 offensive yards. Tiger senior running back Omar Pereyra ended the game with a one-yard touchdown run and held 49 yards rushing over 16 carries. Mule quarterback Dub Yarborough finished the game with only 109 passing yards.

The Tigers will moved on to play Calallan, from Corpus Christi, Texas, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas for the Regional Championship. Dripping Springs battled it out against the Calallen Wildcats at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The Tigers won the first half 21-14, but lost late in the second half with a final score of 31-38. A hard fought game, the Wildcat offense was able to penetrate in the final minutes and keep the Tigers at bay. Junior quarterback Kyle Johnson led the Tiger offense with 268-yards passing, beating out Wildcat junior quarterback Preston Dorsey, who had only 108-yards passing. The Wildcats made up yardage and eventually won the game on the ground with 252-yards rushing and kept the Tigers limited to only 128-yards rushing. Senior wide receiver Joey Herrick had two touchdowns for the Tigers and amounted to 141 total yards receiving.

 Because of Dripping Springs’ loss, their season is now over and District 25-4A is eliminated from the 4A Division II tournament. In Division I, Lake Travis and Cedar Park will face off in Week 14 at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium, the University of Texas football stadium, to decide the quarterfinalist for the 4A Division II State Championship and the winner of the 4A Division II Region IV Championship. Whichever team loses will move on to offseason, and the victor will play the Region III Champion in Week 15.

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