State title march continues for Timberwolves, Vipers

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As much as Cedar Park wants to avoid comparing last season when it won the state title and this season, the comparisons are unmistakable.

The Timberwolves beat Willis on the road 49-14 last Friday night to push their winning streak to 27 games. It’s the second straight year the Timberwolves went undefeated in the regular season and opened the playoffs with a 49-14 result.

They return to action Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Mary Hardin-Baylor against Bryan.

“At this point, the feeling is very similar in that we’ve handled every opportunity we’ve had so far and we’ve progressed each week,” Cedar Park head coach Carl Abseck said. “What we’re wanting to do, we’re doing. Our goals and expectations are the same.”

The biggest difference between last season and this season is the offense, which has taken a significant step forward. The Timberwolves average over 200 yards per game on the ground and through the air compared to under 100 yards per game and 145 rushing yards per game last season.

But as it has been for the last few seasons, Cedar Park is built on defense. The Timberwolves have allowed just over seven points a game and have six shutouts this season. They’ve given up four touchdowns in the last four games.

“It breeds confidence,” Abseck said. “You set goals individually, as a team and within the team. Their goal is to shut people out each week. We played really good defense last year, we’ve played really good defense again this year.”

Bryan finished the regular season at 6-5 and needed a strong push, winning two of its final three games to finish in fourth place in District 18-5A. The Vikings went on to upset Ennis 41-27 in the first round.

The run-first Vikings are led by Hunter Batten, who rushed for 1,016 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. Cedar Park doesn’t really care what Bryan is good at, its focus stays the same.

“Your goal is always to eliminate what they do well and make them go to their secondary plan,” Abseck said. “We’re going to force them to do things they’re not as good at. That’s the same thing you do every week.”

Vandegrift scored the final 13 points and rallied in the fourth quarter to beat San Antonio Johnson 27-26 Friday night for its third straight bi-district trophy. The Vipers travel to San Marcos for a 7:30 p.m. game against Cibolo Steele at Rattler Stadium.

Mack Parker scored with under 10 minutes left in the game and Isaiah Smallwood scored the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left on a 13-yard run. Smallwood led the team with 17 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

Steele has been a model of consistency over the last decade, posting 10 straight seasons with at least nine wins. This season, the Knights’ only loss came at home to powerhouse Lake Travis in Week 2.

The Knights and Vipers haven’t met in the six years since Vandegrift opened. The winner of the game will face either Del Rio or Weslaco East in the third round.

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