Friday night isn’t about revenge for Cedar Park, it’s about what the Timberwolves’ goals are for the season.
Cedar Park has embraced the ‘Take it Back’ mantra this season, and the first goal for the Timberwolves is to reclaim their spot atop the district standings, which Hutto beat them to a year ago.
“This game is the next game in the line of district game in order to win a championship,” Cedar Park head coach Carl Abseck said. "It’s a big game for that reason. They beat us last year, and they’re the district champs until someone proves them otherwise.”
The Hippos dominated the Timberwolves 65-21 last year, and Cedar Park missed out on the district crown for the first time in six seasons.
Cedar Park and Hutto come into this week’s contest with unblemished records in District 11-5A, DI. The only loss of the season between the two teams was the Timberwolves’ season-opening loss to Vandegrift.
Hutto opened the season with non-district wins against West Mesquite, Liberty Hill and El Paso Del Valle before beginning district play with wins over Connally and Georgetown. The Hippos were on a bye last week.
“It’s a mutual respect,” Abseck said. “They’ve had a great program over the last eight years or so, and we’ve had some success too. It’s exciting because everybody wants to play those big games and it’s fun to be a part of them. That means there’s something on the line.”
Cedar Park beat the Eagles 38-15 last Friday night, its seventh straight win in the series.
Junior quarterback Ryder Hernandez paced the offense with 330 yards and four touchdowns on 23-for-29 passing, while Josh Cameron had 155 yards on nine catches, and Kevin Adams had 73 rushing yards.
The Timberwolves have scored at least 38 points in five straight games.
“We just really settled in,” Hernandez said. “That first game wasn’t a good showing out of us. Ever since then, we’ve been working our tails off and everybody is making plays. All around, we’re getting it going now.”
Hutto has a slight advantage in points per game, averaging 39 points each time out compared to 37.6 each game for the Cedar Park offense. But the Timberwolves have a statistically better defense as they give up just 15 points per game compared to 18.8 for the Hippos.
Sophomore quarterback Grayson Doggett has thrown for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Hippos this season, and senior receiver Dajon Harrison has 17 receptions for 437 yards and six scores through five games.
Senior Mekhi Kimbles leads the ground attack with 439 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 attempts, all team highs.
“We know they’re a good opponent, and it’s going to be a good rivalry game,” Cedar Park senior defensive back Tammer Alzer said. “They’ve got a lot of fast athletes and good athletes, but we’ve got the same. We’ve got to execute the game plan this year.”
Cedar Park challenged itself before the district schedule started, taking on four Class 6A schools and coming away with three wins, including a dramatic overtime win on the road against San Angelo Central.
Even in their only loss, the Timberwolves held Vandegrift to its second-lowest offensive output of the season.
“We’ve always tried to schedule games for the ones that truly matter,” Abseck said. “ We want to win them all, but you don’t grow as a team unless you challenge yourself. The schedule is by design to prepare our team.”