Football: Cavs cope with 1st holiday break off since ‘06
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | | 1
Playing through mid-December the last five years, it was a strange holiday time as the Lake Travis football team had Thanksgiving week off for the first time since 2006.
The Cavaliers (9-2 overall in 2012) are hoping to start up a new tradition of practicing and playing through the holiday week once again come 2013.
“It was different, I felt a little bit lost,” Lake Travis coach Hank Carter said. “It was good to spend some time with family, but I’d much rather be planning on our next opponent. That’s what we’re used to around here. It’s tough, but we’re going to be OK.”
Lake Travis had chances to win its bidistrict game against Pflugerville but was held back by several things, including special teams play. The Cavaliers can also look to the fact that they won the District 15-5A title in their very first Class 5A campaign, beat nine Class 5A teams, and three teams Lake Travis beat are still alive in the playoffs – Westwood, Bowie and Westlake.
“Probably as a whole, our special teams were not as sound as we’d like them to be,” Carter said. “That really did us in the game vs. Pflugerville. The move to 5A, we just needed to play better football. That night [the playoff loss] didn’t have anything to do with amount of A’s in there. We just didn’t play well.”
Carter said not having the next several weeks to spend with the team – especially the seniors – hit hard.
“I feel really bad for our seniors because they don’t get another shot at this, but they’ll take a lot away from being part of this,” he said. “I’m kind of sad because normally I get to spend time with those guys during Christmas time.”
Already into their offseason evaluation and preparation for the New Year, the Cavs will lose a good chunk of talent to graduation but have a stockade of young talent.
“We’ve been evaluating ever since the game was over,” Carter said. “We need to get bigger, faster, stronger and more mentally tough. The coaches are already meeting and planning on how we can improve … There are a lot of things as coaches we can look at to improve upon. It’ll take us some time to evaluate and really look at ourselves as far coaches.”
Players slated to break into varsity slowly or spend the season mostly at the junior varsity level were called into action as Lake Travis suffered a bevy of knee, head and other injuries this season.
“It’s one of those things that happens, unfortunately; we were kind of hit by the knee-ACL bug and concussion bug at the same time,” Carter said. “That was tough, but we had plenty of opportunities against Pflugerville. We had a lot of young guys we wished weren’t playing yet, but they were, and that will pay dividends down the road.”
On offense, running back Shaun Nixon will return as will late-season phenom Grant Foster, along with several offensive linemen. The defense will have Luke Hutton, James Bailey, Hagen Patterson, Feno Pearson and more back in the fold, with plenty of talent on the JV and freshmen levels ready to compete as well.
The JV Black team was the runner-up in district, the JV White team won the district title.
“We do have a ton of experience coming back and we’ll build on that,” Carter said. “We’ll work our tails off this winter and spring so this doesn’t happen again. I think a lot of those kids got playing time at the varsity level, and that type of thing is invaluable. There’s no substitute for that.”
One big question will be who will replace two-year starter senior Baker Mayfield at quarterback.
Dominic DeLira, Ryon Mays, and even freshmen Tate Sandford and Michael Medina could be in on the competition during the spring time to try and become the next Cavaliers quarterback.
“We have a real strong freshmen class plus both JV teams had good seasons,” Carter said. “It’ll be interesting to see how the spring unfolds. I hate losing Baker. It’s going to be hard to replace that guy.”
After gunning to knock the five-time champs off their pedestal, it’s still not likely that opponents will start viewing Lake Travis any differently next season.
“I don’t think it will change a bit, I really don’t,” Carter said. “When people turn on the video, they will see an extremely good team, and I expect that to continue.”
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