Defensive lineman Charles Blankenship and the rest of the Cedar Park defense started the last week of practice with an extra hunger thinking about how well they opened the season and how much better they could do.
Friday night marked the beginning of storm season because this year's version of the ‘Black Rain' is upon us.
The Cedar Park defense largely shut down the Cedar Ridge offense while the running game that was made a priority in the offseason got in a groove to help the Timberwolves down the Raiders 26-14 Friday night at Gupton Stadium.
"This tells us that the sky is the limit, and if we keep working as hard as we can, we can win a state championship," Blankenship said.
Senior Brock Johnson paced the Cedar Park rushing attack with 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries. Sophomore Kevin Adams scored his first varsity touchdown and had 25 yards while junior Josh Cameron added 50 yards on seven carries.
Junior quarterback Ryder Hernandez finished with 143 passing yards for the Timberwolves, and junior Gunnar Abseck was his favorite target with five receptions for 52 yards.
"We ran it when we needed to run it," Abseck said. "We're going to throw it and we're going to run it. We want to be equally adept at both. We missed out on a couple of opportunities in the passing game, but our protection was better."
Cedar Ridge running back Deuce Vaughn was held to 160 yards and a touchdown, most of which came on a 53-yard run on the Raiders' first drive and a 40-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
It was a far cry from the nearly 300 total yards he racked up in Cedar Ridge's season opener.
"That dude is a heckuva ballplayer, there's a reason why he's a Division I recruit," Abseck said. "To hold him to what we held him to is a great credit to our defense and our defensive coaches, and I couldn't be more proud of them."
Vaughn broke through with a 40-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
Cedar Park responded after Vaughn's touchdown burst, and senior Tammer Alzer converted a fake punt that led to a two-yard rush by Johnson to tie the game. Adams ran for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Timberwolves the lead on their next drive.
Junior kicker Justin Bohrer booted a 44-yard field goal to extend the Cedar Park lead to 17-7 at the break.
The Cedar Park defense continued to fly around in the second half, and junior Josh Bretz intercepted a pass that led to a 38-yard field goal by Bohrer at the end of the third quarter.
Johnson put the game away when he capped a nine-play drive with a 17-yard touchdown run right through the heart of the Cedar Ridge defense.
Cedar Park heads out to West Texas to take on San Angelo Central next Friday, while Cedar Ridge begins District 13-6A play Friday at 7 p.m. at Dragon Stadium against defending district champion Vandegrift.
"I always want them to play with confidence," Abseck said. "The bottom line is they should walk on the field believing that they can win any game that we're in. Our kids have won a lot of football games, and we expect to be successful."