Usually when a team is backed up against its goal line, it runs to create space.
Westlake High School (Austin) is not a normal team, and it’s first play from scrimmage Friday was anything but normal.
Facing off against Brennan High School (San Antonio) in the Alamodome in a Class 6A Division II area playoff, the Chaps found themselves pinned in at their own 1 yard line after a terrific Brennan punt put Westlake on its back foot.
Three runs and a first down or out, right? Not for the Chaps. Instead, quarterback Taylor Anderson dropped back and lofted an absolute bomb down the field to wide receiver Mason Mangum, who caught the pass in stride and raced to the end zone for a touchdown that set the tone in a 49-7 rout.
Make no mistake: This was no screen pass with a great run-after-catch. This was a straight-up deep ball, with no security net, about as gutsy a call as a coach could call on his first snap from scrimmage, particularly when in the metaphorical shadow of its own goal line.
Don’t take our word for it, just check out the highlight above.
And there’s no question that legendary Texas coach Todd Dodge, now leading Westlake, explicitly called for that play himself. It was not an audible at the line of scrimmage.
“When I saw their punt land on the 1-yard line (I wanted to run the play),” Dodge told the Austin American Statesman. “Before the playoffs I told (Anderson) that I trust him and we’re not going to hold anything back. We’re not going to keep any bullets in the holster. We were going to turn him loose in the playoffs.”
That was just the first salvo in a symphony of effective football for Westlake, but it was the most dramatic and impactful. The Chaps also scored on a blocked punt return, a fumble return and plenty of more traditional, end-of-drive offensive plays.
The Chaps, who are rapidly emerging as a legitimate threat to break back into the Super 25 before the end of the year; Westlake was an early season entry before a Week 2 upset at Cypress Ranch. The Chaps haven’t lost since and have outscored all opponents 550-105. With a path to a state title that doesn’t include Super 25 No. 3 Allen, local rival Lake Travis or Katy — all of which are in the Class 6A Division I bracket rather than 6A Division II — Westlake has every hallmark of a nationally relevant team … including truly gutsy play calling.