Top 3 questions facing Cavaliers as preseason practice draws near
Fresh off its third consecutive 6A title game appearance, Lake Travis has been slotted as a preseason favorite to once again visit Arlington’s AT&T Stadium during winter break.
Cavaliers’ coach Hank Carter gets his first official look at the Cavaliers on Monday, Aug. 13. While the ninth-year head coach has a good idea about what he’ll see in the first practices, several questions remain as the Cavaliers get to work.
“There are a few things we are certain of as we start practice,” Carter said in late July. “I’m sure that we have a collection of guys who love playing football together. I’m sure that we have plenty of guys to throw it to and a good one to throw it. We have a ton of guys that were part of a good run last year and I think that’s going to pay off for us.”
For as much as Carter knows, the Cavaliers return to practice far from a finished product. As preseason camp begins, what resides at the top of the team’s to-do list?
“There’s a bunch that we don’t know,” Carter said. Three pressing questions include:
Who are the Cavaliers’ best 11?
“We’ve got to find a way to make sure that we have our best 11 football players on the field on offense, on defense and all of our special teams units,” Carter said.
The list of Lake Travis’ top 11 players features some familiar names – receiver Garrett Wilson, quarterback Hudson Card, defensive tackle Kaleb Wenson to name a few – Carter knows that the players who emerge as the best 11 offensive, defensive and special teams players for the Aug. 31 season opener at Arlington Martin will change throughout the year.
“I’d think we have an idea for about 85 percent of who will be on the field when we start, before anyone gets hurt of course,” Carter said. “There will be some changes. If you look at last year, the team changed a whole bunch from the start of fall practice to the state championship game.”
How can Lake Travis bolster the defensive line?
Lake Travis’ 11 best defensive players will feature three new starters on the defensive front. Only Wenson (6-2, 260) returns after coming on strong down the stretch last season.
“He’s been in the program a whole year and I expect him to have a breakout year,” Carter said of the player who came to Lake Travis from Georgia.
Developing depth – and size – on the defensive front will be one of the Cavaliers’ top priorities.
“Depth on the defensive line is probably my biggest concern,” Carter said. “Most of the year last year we were sub-par defensively and a lot of it had to do with the fact that we weren’t physical enough up front. Our kids were plenty willing. We just didn’t have the size or strength that we needed.”
Sophomore Raleigh Erwin and senior Ryan Colliau will fight for spots at defensive tackle, and newcomer Hunter Simo and Trey Sofia will be among those looking to start at defensive end.
“We have a bunch of guys that we’re going to see how they all fit together,” Carter said. “When we’ve been dominant up front, we’ve been tough to beat. We’ve got to find a way to get back to that.”
Can Lake Travis develop another reliable kicker?
In his three seasons handling the Cavaliers’ kicking duties, Cameron Dicker earned first-team all-state honors and rewrote the Lake Travis record book. While he suffered the occasional miss, Dicker proved clutch in the team’s biggest moments. Just ask Cibolo Steele. Dicker’s last-second 46-yard field goal sent the 2016 meeting into overtime and his 37-yarder with 3 seconds left won the 2017 game. In addition to his field goal accuracy (75% in his career), Dicker also limited opponents’ return opportunities, registering 138 touchbacks in three seasons. Big cleats to fill.
Sophomores Nathan Ellisor and Hays McCannon handled the kicking duties throughout the spring and will continue to compete throughout the preseason.
Lake Travis’ first preseason practice begins at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 13.
Key preseason dates:
- Aug. 13: 1st day of practice (no pads)
- Aug. 15: 1st practice in shoulder pads
- Aug. 18: Intersquad scrimmage
- Aug. 24: Scrimmage vs Cedar Ridge
- Aug. 31: Season opener at Arlington Martin