Yarnell ready to take his turn leading Lake Travis offense
Another game week, another opportunity for Lake Travis to put its depth to the test.
Injuries have forced Lake Travis to implement football’s “next man up” reality time and again. The Cavaliers have rotated running backs, offensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. Friday at Del Valle, they’ll showcase their depth at quarterback when junior Nate Yarnell makes his first start.
Last week Hudson Card announced that a foot injury suffered early in the Oct. 12 win over Westlake will sideline him for the remainder of the regular season and possibly the entire season. That thrust Yarnell, a promising 6-foot-6 prospect with two FBS scholarship offers in his pocket, behind center for the foreseeable future.
“It was kind of hard to believe,” Yarnell said when Card let the team know the severity of the injury. “He had played such a phenomenal game against Westlake and that really shows just what a fantastic player he is, to beat them with one foot.”
Beginning Friday, Lake Travis will look to keep winning – the Cavaliers (6-1, 5-0 in District 25-6A) have won six straight following a season-opening loss – on Yarnell’s long right arm. The Cavaliers’ bye week came at a fortuitous time, giving Yarnell, who’s completed 73 percent of his passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, a full week to get reacquainted with the starting offense.
“Last week was about getting that experience with the starters,” Yarnell said. “Throughout the season, I’ve been given the opportunity to play with them, so I feel like I’m better prepared.”
While most of Yarnell’s game reps have come with the second team – including his debut in last season’s regional semifinal playoff win over Weslaco – he did spend the summer quarterbacking the Cavaliers’ 7on7 team to the state tournament while Card competed at the Elite 11 quarterback competition.
“The reps at 7on7 [over the summer] were good for team bonding,” Yarnell said. “I think we already have some chemistry to go off of. I’m going to rely on the guys around me. We have some fantastic football players and I’m just excited to play.”
While the bye week effectively served as a de facto preseason practice week, the Cavaliers don’t expect to miss a beat Friday at Del Valle.
“I don’t think we’ve skipped a beat,” Yarnell said. “We just want to do what we’ve been doing, execute at a high level…just continue to play Lake Travis football.”
Del Valle (5-3, 3-3) comes off a 69-31 loss at Westlake. The Cardinals are part of a three-team battle for the final playoff spot. Bowie (4-3, 3-2) and Anderson (5-2, 3-2) lead the Cardinals by a half-game in the standings. Bowie has just one game remaining against teams all but locked into playoff spots (Westlake). Anderson must play both Westlake (6-1, 4-1) and Lake Travis. Del Valle finishes with Lake Travis and Hays (7-0, 5-0).
The Cardinals feature one of the district’s most explosive offenses. Running back Tavierre Dunlop has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Receivers Darius Lewis and Caleb Burton have combined for 97 catches and 17 touchdowns, benefitting from talented quarterback Jace Wilson, who’s passed for 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns. That quartet will test a Lake Travis defense that’s allowed just 14.7 points per game overall and 8.4 in five district wins.
Lake Travis receivers coach Jacob Alvarez is very familiar with what Del Valle’s Lewis (57 catches, 905 yards) can do on the field. Both spent last year at McCallum, where Alvarez served as the offensive coordinator and Lewis was one of the Knights’ primary weapons.
With 11 tackles against Westlake, senior linebacker Maui Trevino moved into second place on the Cavaliers’ all-time list for solo tackles (210) and fourth all-time in total tackles (336).