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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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