Viper football preview vs Westlake


Vandegrift vs Westlake
Monroe Stadium
Friday, Sept. 23 – 7:30 p.m.


By SCOTT W. COLEMAN, Four Points News

The Vipers still have a lot of work to do, and things don’t get any easier after a 1-3 non-district campaign to start the season.

All three of those losses were close, and though the Vipers fell behind last Thursday, they were able to rally and put themselves in position to win the game at Harker Heights. Still, the final score is what counts, and despite being close, those three losses will give the Vipers motivation to improve as they move into 25-6A play this week.

The challenge couldn’t be tougher than a face-off against state finalist Westlake, and it might get more difficult still, as rumors are that University of Texas commit Sam Ehlinger could return to action this week to quarterback the Chaps.

Westlake has done well in Ehlinger’s absence, as senior backup Matthew Gense has managed the offense as the Chaps shifted balance toward a rushing attack and Nakia Washington dominated opponents on the ground. The junior running back already has 548 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the season and carried the ball for 214 yards and three touchdowns last week.

If Gense is behind center, the Vipers will likely expect Westlake to continue a ground-heavy gameplan with Gense working the short and mid-ranged passing game. If Ehlinger, however, returns on Friday, the Westlake offense becomes truly three dimensional. The reigning AP Texas high school player of the year is a threat to run at any time, and has the arm strength and accuracy to add a deep-threat passing attack with receivers Andrew Boykin and Cade Green. On the ground, Nakia Washington has already shown the ability to dominate opponents behind a strong offensive line.

Vandegrift saw its offense held back by penalties again last week. Vandegrift’s offensive game plan is predicated on the ability to go uptempo to take advantage of beneficial matchups and to keep defenses on their heels after big plays. Penalties killed the effort to build momentum in last week’s game at Harker Heights. Though the Knight’s defense is solid and has done an impressive job this season, there is little doubt that Westlake’s defense is among the best in the state. Vandegrift will have to make the most of every possession on Friday, and fixing the problem with penalties will be crucial to the Vipers’ chances of success this week.