A numbers game

Six numbers that defined football’s loss to Westlake


Parker Maroney

The offense runs the ball during a preseason scrimmage against San Marcos. This season, the Rangers ran for 1,895 yards and 31 touchdowns.

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

Football’s season came to a close Friday, in a 62-3 loss to defending state champion Austin Westlake. The Chaparrals are the consensus favorite to win Region IV, but for many fans, that does little to lessen the blow.

Sometimes, though, cynicism can help to distance oneself from pain. So here are the six numbers which defined Friday’s game.

62: points scored (and miles travelled)

Despite not scoring in the fourth quarter, Westlake’s offense tied for a season-high 62 points in the first three frames, and were a missed extra point away from setting their new 2020 standard. Prior to the game, the Rangers had allowed just 59 points in their two worst defensive performances combined. They also hadn’t allowed more than 32 points in a game since Oct 25, 2019.

That number also represents the difference in miles between the two schools’ travel to the host site (Pflugerville’s The Pfield). Westlake drove just 20.7 miles – under half an hour depending on traffic – while the Rangers and their fans drove four times that distance (82.7 miles). 

Traditional neutral sites such as San Marcos and Seguin weren’t hosting games due to coronavirus concerns, so the teams flipped for “home neutral” sites. Westlake won that coin toss, and saved a lot of gas in the process.

48: yards from the goalpost

The distance of Smithson Valley kicker Austin Hosier’s field goal attempt as the first half clock expired. Already up 41 points and slated to receive the second-half kickoff, Westlake coach Todd Dodge opted to call a timeout. But he didn’t realize that if Hosier was in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” his superpower would most certainly be related to anti-freeze (or its chemical variants).

The kick bounced off the center of the crossbar and through the uprights for the Rangers’ first and last three points of the game. And so, just like in last year’s 21-3 playoff loss to Lake Travis, the team’s final points of the season came on a field goal.

16: consecutive completions streak

After three incompletions on his opening drive, Westlake quarterback Cade Klubnik fired off 16 straight complete passes, a streak which stretched into the second half – and ended on a dropped screen pass. He was hit from behind on another failed pass attempt, so it could be argued he was responsible for just two incomplete passes all game.

All in all, Klubnik completed 24 of 28 pass attempts for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns, and rushed for another score. His primary target? Wide receiver Jaden Greathoue, who earned MaxPreps Freshman All-American honors last season and holds offers from Power 5 schools such as Texas and Oklahoma.

11: catches

Greathouse finished with nearly a dozen catches, including 10 in the first half. The Rangers played extremely soft coverage on Greathouse all night, often positioning cornerback Cooper Douglass 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Occasionally a safety came to double-team the four-star recruit, but he was never pressed at the line of scrimmage.

That distance allowed him to rack up a catch just about every time the ball came his way. The Rangers’ defensive philosophy was clearly “Don’t let Greathouse beat us deep,” and they executed that plan perfectly; he averaged under eight yards per reception and never gained more than 13 yards on a single play. 

But Klubnik stayed patient, hitting Greathouse five times for 32 yards on the first possession alone. And the energy expended on slowing down Greathouse allowed other weapons such as Zane Minors (184 total yards, 2 touchdowns) plenty of room to operate. It was a no-win situation.

9: consecutive touchdown drives

Westlake’s starting offense scored a touchdown on all nine of their possessions – good for all 62 of the team’s points. In those nine possessions, the Westlake offense passed for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for just over 200 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Chaparrals also gave their second unit a couple possessions, and they didn’t go nearly as well for them as the first nine did. On the first, the Ranger defense forced a three-and-out; on the second, linebacker Malachi Lane recovered his second 4th-quarter fumble in the last two games. 

1: season ended

Thirty-three seniors played their final game of high school football on Friday, and many will never put on pads again. Anyone can pull up to a local blacktop or join an office softball league, but football is different. Football, at some point, ends. And the vast majority of high school players never get a chance to play at the next level.

“No one will ever understand the bond that has been built between us over these years,” senior offensive lineman Nathan Moczygemba wrote in an open letter to his teammates. “No one will understand the tears, the blood, the sweat, the laughs, the pain, the [losses], the victories and the love that we have all experienced together.”

Football is over. Basketball season is here, and soccer is coming soon. But for now, take some time to remember all of the unforgettable moments that defined this season. 

In the first game of the season, quarterback Jalen Nutt exploded onto the scene, racking up 223 yards and two touchdowns in his first varsity game at the position. Running back Gabe Hoskins added three scores of his own, and the Rangers beat Harker Heights, 45-27.

In the district opener, backup quarterback Jakob Cernohaus turned in a heroic performance in relief of an injured Nutt, nearly leading a decimated Ranger squad to a comeback victory. They lost in overtime, 27-24, but the team’s talent and depth were plainly evident.

In their next game, Nutt rushed for 132 yards and four touchdowns in a road win over reigning district champion Clemens. The Rangers won in inclement conditions, 34-7.

In the regular season finale, the football team travelled to Judson, who had clinched the district title a week earlier. But thanks to John Wayne Player of the Week winner Maverick Freeland (8 catches, 124 yards, 1 touchdown), the Rangers put up enough points to win a 35-32 shootout.

The following week, the Rangers again entered hostile territory, this time driving to Heroes Stadium to face District 28-6A champion Reagan in the first round of the playoffs. The Rattlers led 20-3 at halftime, and the game seemed to be slipping away, but the Rangers refused to let their season die. 

Led by the defense and special teams units, they fought back. Noah Flores returned a punt to the Reagan 15-yard line, and the defense forced four turnovers in the second half alone, including a David DeHoyos pick-six and a desperation hook-and-ladder toss snagged by Lane. Thanks to a 21-0 victory in the second half, the Rangers won, 24-20.

Which brings us to Friday. Seven players caught passes, Hosier let his leg shine and Lane forced a late turnover. But Westlake has a legitimate chance to finish this season 14-0; their talent was simply too much to overcome.

Cynicism doesn’t always work. Watching dozens of football careers come to a close is just a sad business; there’s no way around that. So this week, as we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus, say a prayer for those seniors. If you know them, congratulate them on a job well done. 

They’ve earned it.