Semifinal Action

UIL Football 6A-II State Semifinals Preview: How do Cy Fair and Austin Westlake matchup?

Westlake RB Nakia Watson is a playmaker for the Chaps. Vype

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

AUSTIN WESTLAKE (14-0)

Road to the Semis: San Antonio MacArthur (62-14); Smithson Valley (51-31); Edinburg Vela (70-14); Cibolo Steele (28-14)

Preview: Greg Sherman 

Austin Westlake is home to NFL athletes Drew Brees, Nick Foles, Seth McKinney, and Justin Tucker, so the Chaps have always had “star” power.

This year’s star is Nakia Watson, who rushed for 182 yards and three scores last week. Watson is committed to the Wisconsin Badgers, and is one of the nation’s top recruits.

The Chaps overcame four turnovers to defeat Cibolo Steele 28-14, holding the Knights to 47 yards of offense and one first down after halftime. Watson bailed them out in the second half.

They will have to stop the turnovers if they want to have a chance to beat Cy-Fair in the semis. The Chaps will control the ball with Watson, and the defense is very similar to Cy-Fair’s well-coached and talented tacklers.

To win, Westlake must throw the ball around a little to keep the Bobcats honest and not loading the box. The Chaps defense must stop the solid RB Trenton Kennedy, the Bobcats’ best back. Watch out for QB Cam Arnold, who can hit on the deep ball with a few talented WRs on occasion.

Of note, should Westlake advance to the 6A-II final, it would mark the 17th time in 19 years Westlake, Lake Travis or Katy has reached a final.

CY FAIR (13-0)

Road to the Semis: Westside (49-14); Strake Jesuit (17-0); Friendswood (45-14); Langham Creek (31-14)

Preview: Thomas Bingham 

Even though Westlake has to travel 171 miles to NRG Stadium, most experts are picking the 14-0 Chaparrals against 13-0 Cy-Fair in Saturday’s UIL 6A Division II state semifinal matchup. Houston’s rep doesn’t have the track record that its counterpart does, but has a case as well. The Bobcats have beaten 12 different teams this season, including Langham Creek in the 17-6A and Region 3 championships, en route to its second-ever trip to the state semis.

None of Ed Pustejovsky’s players were born the last time Fair advanced to the state final four, but he remembers the 1985 run well. He was serving his fourth season as the program’s offensive line coach, which would eventually lead to his head coaching hire in 2004. He doesn’t have the state championships that Westlake coach Todd Dodge has [from his time at Southlake Carroll], but knows his program inside and out. He was a major player in developing the Bobcats’ brand, as well as their successful run and defense scheme. Since he joined the program, the boys in maroon have earned 17 of their 19 postseason berths, and all 11 of their postseason advancements.

On the field, the teams have competitive quarterback-running back combos. Fair has the always-reliable Cam Arnold under center, and Westlake has a dual-threat in Taylor Anderson. Their go-to targets are senior running backs Trenton Kennedy and Nakia Watson respectively.

Since the offenses are competitive, it’ll come down to how they stack up with the opposing defense. Westlake averages 47.9 points per game, nearly two touchdowns more than Fair, but hasn’t faced a defense like the Bobcats’ yet. The unit will limit the Chaps’ scoring, like it did to other teams this season. It allowed more than 14 points in two games, and has a season average of 11.5. Watch for cornerback Erick Hallett to disrupt Anderson’s passes, like he did as the 17-6A co-regular season leader in interceptions.

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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