Lake Travis-Canyon preview

Records: Lake Travis 1-0. New Braunfels Canyon 0-1.

Series: Canyon leads 4-2. Lake Travis has won last two meetings.

Last meeting: 2007 Bi-District playoffs. Lake Travis wins 37-7. Garrett Gilbert threw 4 touchdown passes and the Cavaliers opened up a 37-0 lead. Lake Travis went on to win its first state championship.

Last week: Lake Travis beat Converse Judson 47-13. New Braunfels Canyon fell to Killeen 33-28. Both teams made their 5A debuts last week. Lake Travis dominated Judson from the opening kickoff. Hunter Streuling blocked a punt on Judson’s first possession, and on Lake Travis’ first play, Baker Mayfield threw the first of his five touchdown passes, connecting with Zach Austin. When the dust settled, Mayfield threw for 410 yards. Austin caught 7 passes for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns. Canyon let a late lead slip away at home against Killeen. The Cougars led 28-21 late in the third quarter, but the Kangaroos scored late in the third quarter and then in the final minute to claim the win.

Scouting Reports:

Lake Travis hit the ground running (and passing) to enjoy one of its most prolific openers during the five year stretch of state championships. The Cavaliers want to be more balanced (410 passing, 160 rushing against Judson), which means junior running back Shaun Nixon may figure more into the plans. He had 80 yards rushing and caught a 39-yard touchdown pass last week. Judson tried to take away Nixon as a weapon and got burned by Mayfield’s constant strikes to Austin, Preston Dupre, Tyler Payne and Zach Joiner. If Canyon took note and tries to double-cover Austin, Nixon, Joiner and Dominic Packer may find more room to run as offensive coordinator David Collins works to keep the offense clicking.

Canyon relied primarily on its running attack, gaining better than 330 yards against Killeen. Quarterback Philip Shelton threw only 10 passes, completing 4 for 56 yards. Gibreel Evans (96 yards on 20 carries), Trevor Luckemeyer (88 on 8) and Shelton (65 on 16) did most of the rushing for the Cougars. More of the same will be key tonight if Canyon wants to ruin Lake Travis’ home opener. The more Canyon can run the ball, the less Lake Travis’ offense will see the field. Defensively, Canyon surrendered 375 yards to Killeen, including 225 through the air. “We will have to tackle better because they are a ground and pound team,” Lake Travis head coach Hank Carter said.

New home:

Lake Travis will debut its new turf field tonight. Lake Travis was one of the last 4A or 5A schools near the IH-35 corridor to play on a grass field. The surface shouldn’t matter much. The last time Lake Travis lost on field turf came in 2007 at Westlake. Of course the Cavaliers haven’t lost many since then. They are 78-3 since the start of the 2007 season. The other two losses came at home, on grass, in 2010.

Getting his kicks:

Senior kicker Kevin Marcotte made two field goals at Judson last week. Going back to last season’s championship game, he’s made five in a row. He converted a hat-trick against Waco Midway after getting his first try blocked.

Welcome aboard:

Lake Travis relied on more than a handful of first-year starters on defense at Judson, and they all played like seasoned veterans. Zach Davies, Hagen Patterson, James Bailey, Brandon Quintero, Michael Islava, Cody Reichle, Jacob Pate and Vince Villagomez made their first starts. As a group, Lake Travis held Judson's offense to 328 yards, 67 of which came on one fourth-quarter play. Davies, Quintero and Islava joined senior Connor Shannon on the defensive front and helped control Judson’s offensive line. They combined for 4 quarterback sacks and kept blockers away from Patterson and Bailey. Patterson had 8 tackles, Bailey 9 and a sack, drawing praise from Carter. “We thought it would end up this way but he did really well,” Carter said. “He is a willing tackler and he does well in coverage.”

Another newcomer figures to get some playing time tonight. Sophomore Grant Foster played both receiver and cornerback against Judson and made and interception on the game’s final play. Carter said Foster would likely play more cornerback against Canyon.

Walking wounded

Lake Travis put on a pleasing performance in the opener, but the Cavaliers still have room to improve. Some of that improvement should come as the team’s overall health improved. Senior DT Spencer Staples missed the opener with a knee injury. Junior OL Ty Anderson didn’t suit up because of a lingering leg issue. Carter did not indicate when either would return, but he’s eager to get both back into pads and on the field.