3-time defending state champ Westlake Chaparrals looking for 4-peat
WESTLAKE, Texas - Three-time defending state champ Westlake Chaparrals are gunning for a state four-peat and doing so under a new coach.
While following a legend is never easy, head coach Tony Salazar seems built for the pressure.
"That's the whole deal! That's ultimately why I'm still at Westlake. I'm a competitor, I wanna be in the biggest games there are in the state of Texas," Salazar says.
Salazar's predecessor, Todd Dodge, won the biggest Texas high school game seven times including three state championships at Westlake.
Dodge also went to bat for his defensive coordinator as the perennial power searched for Dodge's replacement.
"He gave me a big opportunity - believed in me. That trust was built early. Along the way, he never wavered," Salazar says.
For the players, the transition from Dodge to Salazar has been seamless.
"Coach Salazar's been with him with Coach Dodge for so long so it's just like having the same coach. Coach Salazar is an amazing coach - three state championships - and amazing defense every single year - so we'll expect to have the same results this year," says running back Jaden Greathouse.
As the Chaps take aim for a fourth straight state title, most feel the defense, led by Oklahoma-bound defensive end Colton Vasek, won't miss a beat.
Vasek says, "I'm just excited to go out here and get a chance to get that four-peat with all my friends and teammates and get this thing done!"
But can the Chaparral offense keep rolling without 5-star quarterback Cade Klubnik and without Dodge's keen mind? Offensive coordinator Kirk Rogers likes the team's chances.
"Obviously, it's hard to replace a legend - he was the best at what he did - but the good thing is I've been with him for 12 years so we've got to see it first hand how it's supposed to be done," Rogers says.
And with Notre Dame commit Greathouse leading the way, the Chaps aren't shying away from expectations.
"It's amazing! It's a blessing every single day to go make history this season. Everybody knows what's at stake," Greathouse says.
Guard Kyle Natenstdedt says, "The pressure - it's nothing to us. We're used to it at this point so - it feels good."
Coach Salazar says the season's goal is to go for four.
"I can't keep these boys from talking about it - so we're gonna talk about it. And it's gonna be right there every single day - and we're gonna work to be the best," Salazar says.