WESTLAKE, Texas - It just might be a picture perfect season for the Westlake football team and their legendary head coach, Todd Dodge. The Chaparrals are taking aim at their third straight state title in Dodge's final season.
Dodge recently announced he'll retire after this year and heads into his "last dance" with another strong Westlake squad that's the popular favorite to win yet another title.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say there was that extra little bit of juice every day for me," said Dodge. "I had one of our seniors ask me 'Coach, it's kind of like you're part of this senior class. We're all going out together'."
Dodge is already one of the most successful coaches in Texas high school football history. He's won six state championships - four at Southlake Carroll and two more at Westlake - and now has a chance to 3-peat on his way out the door.
"He's all in, I can tell you that," said Westlake defensive coordinator Tony Salazar. "He's not tiptoeing out. He's all in. He's entrenched."
Westlake senior offensive lineman, Connor Robertson - a University of Texas commit - echoes Salazar's sentiments. "He's such a legendary guy and Coach and just has so much history in this state," said Robertson.
Dodge will have one of the nation's top quarterbacks helping lead the way. In fact, Clemson commit Cade Klubnik is a big reason Dodge is still around.
"I could have fully retired with full benefits two years ago when that State Championship was over in 2019," said Dodge. "I really felt like there was still some work to be done. Once again, kind of motivated by that young quarterback (Klubnik) and the passion that he has for the game."
Cade Klubnik fondly remembers his first impression of Dodge. "His wife was my 5th grade teacher and it's crazy how fast it all moved," said Klubnik. "I still remember being at my brother's practices with Coach Dodge tossing the ball to me and it's crazy to be out here for one last ride. So, we're calling it the 'last dance' so let's go have some fun with it."
While the pressure to deliver a third straight state title will be constant, Dodge has already locked up something far more important: championship-level relationships with his extended Chaparral family.
"He's just a rock! He is who he is, he's the most loyal person I've ever met," said Salazar.
"It's not just about football out here," said Westlake junior running back Jaden Greathouse. "It's about your daily character and he has just given me the best opportunity I could ever ask for, so I'm just so thankful for him."
"He's just such a mentor to me," added Klubnik, "and somebody I know that if I ever need anything on or off the field, that he's going to be the first person I call."
That said, Dodge is putting this highly anticipated season into proper perspective. "I'm gonna just wrap myself around this football team, this coaching staff for the next four and a half months, hopefully until next December and see what we can't get done."