Football eliminated in heartbreaker at Lake Travis

After a hard-fought four quarters, Smithson Valley succumbed to the Cavaliers, 21-3


Danielle Esperiqueta

Star DT Trey Witcher rushes the passer during a loss against Steele. Witcher picked up a sack in his final high school game on Friday at Lake Travis, a 21-3 loss.

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

After a four-quarter dosage of old-school trench warfare, Lake Travis emerged victorious, with the 21-3 win ending Smithson Valley’s season and sending them home empty-handed. 

The story of this game, more than anything, was the defense. Both offenses committed to the run game, and both defenses to controlling the line of scrimmage. In the end, both squads struggled to score, a testament to their talent and discipline. Among the contributors for the Rangers was junior CB Jalen Nutt, who nearly came away with three picks, turning one into a turnover.

“We gave it our all,” Nutt said after the game.

Further contributions came from all sides of the defense: senior safety Jackson Sennie forced a fumble, which was recovered by senior linebacker Thomas Zeug, who picked up one of the team’s sacks; the other belonged to senior defensive tackle Trey Witcher, who hated that this was his last game.

“It was scary, depressing, life changing,” Witcher said of his realizing that this was his final game. “Knowing that this [was] the last time I put on that Ranger jersey, played with this group of guys… it’s completely mind boggling. I’m speechless. No words can describe that feeling.”

It was a tough way to go out. Just before halftime, a bobbled snap on the Cavalier 2-yard line cost the team a scoring opportunity. A missed field goal in the fourth quarter did the same. But keeping it close against a team as talented as Lake Travis is an achievement in and of itself, and the Rangers gave everything they had.

“Everyone left all they could on Lake Travis’ field,” Witcher said of his teammates after the game. “If the boys weren’t playing, they were encouraging and getting us to fight a [little] more each time they opened [their mouths]. It doesn’t soften [the blow of the season ending] much at all, but that makes me realize I wouldn’t want to go out with any other group than this one.”

Smithson Valley struck first, but the game swung thanks to a few big plays on the part of the Cavaliers: a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Yarnell to wide receiver Grayson Sandlin in the second quarter and a 41-yard Weston Stephens touchdown rush in the final frame flanked a Yarnell touchdown sneak in the scoresheet.

For as disappointing as the final result was, the saddest part may be that the seniors, many of whom will never play football again, finished their careers with a loss. Even more than wins and losses, teammates – brothers – stand forever. Witcher recalled standing on the sidelines for the final time, looking out at the field next to men whom he’d shared blood, sweat, and tears. He had one message for them. And what was that message?

“‘I love you,’” Witcher told them. “We just embraced [for] the last moment we have together.”

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