Cedar Park has established itself as one of the perennial powers in the area. Cedar Ridge has had some recent success and is looking to emulate the Timberwolves’ consistent success.
The two teams face off for the first time Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
?“They’re a good team like they are every year, so I imagine they’re going to come out really fired up,” Cedar Ridge head coach Sam Robinson said. “They’ve got a lot of new guys on offense, which is kind of like us on defense, we’re taking some time to gel.”
Both squads enter the matchup with a season-opening loss.
The Timberwolves started the season with a loss to Vandegrift, their first loss to the Vipers since 2014, while the Raiders fell on the road against Temple.
“I expect them to respond,” Cedar Park head coach Carl Abseck said. “Losing isn’t fun and it’s not something that we like to do or are accustomed to, but you can learn a lot of lessons. You can talk about it until it hits you in the face that you have to do the little things right. Nothing that we’ve done in the past will win us a game this year.”
The Cedar Ridge offense stormed out of the gates against the Wildcats with junior quarterback Jalen Brown tossing three touchdowns and 174 yards and Jaylen Ellis catching four passes for 92 yards. Chris “Deuce” Vaughn rushed for more than 200 yards.
Robison said the defensive line stepped up against Temple, but some of the same mistakes they made in the scrimmage against Lake Travis showed up again after he thought they worked them out.
“The thing I learned about them was that we have a chance to be pretty explosive on offense,” Robinson said. “On defense, we’ve got a lot of learning to do, but they kept their composure well. It wasn’t the best game we’ve played over the last few years, but they stuck together.”
The Timberwolves’ defense is excepted to be as fierce as ever despite giving up 29 points to Vandegrift. Abseck said he’s happy with how the defense played last week despite the scoreline and they need to work on keeping them off the field.
“We play a certain defensive style and that’s not going to change,” Abseck said. “We gave up plays that are somewhat uncharacteristic for us, but some of it was inexperience at spots, but (Vandegrift) did a great job executing.”
The Timberwolves have two more games before district play begins, hosting San Angelo Central and traveling to face Katy Cinco Ranch.
Cedar Park advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the second year in a row last season, while Cedar Ridge made it to the state semifinals, the furthest run in the school’s young history. Both went undefeated in district play and won district titles.
“They’re talented and they’re a lot larger enrollment wise so they have the ability to fill in the holes of people that graduated last year better than most,” Abseck said. “They had a good season last year and they have a lot of experience on offense back. They’re going to be a huge test for us.”
Cedar Ridge’s run-up to district play is sure to teach some lessons, with defending state finalist Lake Travis in the scrimmage before non-district games against perennial playoff teams in the Wildcats and Timberwolves.
But when the Raiders take the field against Vandegrift to open the District 13-6A play, Robison figures it will all pay off.
“With us being a little younger on defense, I wish we had more time,” Robinson said. “But we play really, really good teams, which hopefully helps you get better faster. We’re hoping that we’ll be prepared."
OTHER THURSDAY GAMES:
Vista Ridge at Killeen
Leo Buckley Stadium, Killeen
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Vista Ridge struggled to close out its opening game, giving up 31 points in the fourth quarter in Friday’s 34-13 loss to Rouse. Thailand Mayberry ran for 141 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries while Drew Cantu passed for 93 yards and a score. Defensively, Alfredo Saenz had five tackles and the Rangers racked up two sacks against the Raiders. Killeen gave up a touchdown and two-point conversion in the opening loss to Stony Point. This is the first meeting between the Rangers and Kangaroos.