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

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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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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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