North Mesquite Stallions (10-2) vs. Austin Westlake Chaparrals (11-1)
Saturday, November 28, 2 p.m.
Waco ISD Stadium – Waco, Texas
The Stallions, who made their last playoff appearance in 2007, face the tradition-laden Chaparrals in the Region II Class 6A Division I semifinals. Last week, North Mesquite engaged in a fierce defensive struggle and slipped past Killeen Shoemaker 14-13 in overtime. The Chaparrals also put forth a strong defensive effort in defeating The Woodlands 28-3 for the area title.
“We’re fortunate to have another week,” Stallions head coach Mike Robinson told the Dallas Morning News. “The offense can look at the film, hopefully redeem themselves a little bit, and the defense gets some well-deserved rest and time to get ready to reload.”
North Mesquite prefers to run the football has accumulated more than three times as much rushing yardage (3,720) as passing yardage (1,142). The Stallions running game features two running backs, Dreshawn Minnieweather and Dominique McBride.
In 2015, Minnieweather has gained 1,465 yards on 190 carries and scored 19 touchdowns. His counterpart, McBride, follows closely with 1,212 yards on 171 carries and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Ja’Quez Gooch also poses a running threat and has rushed for 879 yards on 127 carries with 14 scores.
Against Shoemaker, however, North Mesquite managed only 54 yards on 41 carries. The Grey Wolves held Minnieweather to 25 yards on 11 carries and McBride to 41 yards on 14 carries.
Gooch throws sparingly but effectively. For the season, the signal caller has passed for 1,076 yards with 68 completions in 118 attempts and 16 touchdowns. Last week, Gooch hit 3-of-5 passes for 55 yards.
A quartet of receivers serves as Gooch’s targets. A’daireon Madlock leads the pack with 16 catches for 286 yards and three touchdowns. The remainder include Donte Howell (13 receptions, 212 yards, 5 TDs), Anthony Richardson (11 catches, 207 yards, 5 TDs), and Ja’marzeyea Arvie (12 receptions, 180 yards, 1 TD).
The Chaparrals feature a very balanced attack and have accumulated 2,968 passing yards and 2,109 rushing yards this season. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger calls his own number much of the time and leads Westlake’s ground game with 1,001 yards on 159 carries with 17 touchdowns.
Through 12 games, Ehlinger has passed for 2,867 yards with 179 completions in 280 attempts including 35 scoring tosses. Against The Woodslands, the senior quarterback threw for 160 yards with a 13-for-22 effort with a 37-yard touchdown pass and rushed 27 times for 100 yards and crossed the goal line with runs of 1, 8, and 2 yards.
Ehlinger looks primarily to Chase Cokley and Reed Klubnick for his throws. In 2105, Cokley has snared 52 catches for 1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Klubnick has grabbed 60 receptions for 899 yards and 10 scores.
When the Chaparrals hired Todd Dodge as head coach in 2014, he set a goal of practicing on Thanksgiving Day. The achievement required only two seasons.
“The kids have been so unbelievable,” Dodge remarked to the Austin American-Statesman. “They’ve bought into let’s go practice on Thanksgiving. We want to invite the entire community to come out and watch us practice on Thanksgiving morning.”