The other night I happened to search and find the season opener between Katy and Westlake, a truly interesting game between a pair of 6A powers that both seem likely to be dominant for the foreseeable future. Now it turns out to be a less significant game for the Texas playoff picture since Sam Ehlinger is likely to miss nearly all, if not all, of the remaining season. Without Ehlinger neither Katy nor Westlake look like championship contenders in this upcoming playoff. It seems to be Lake Travis' year. Anyways, here's what I noticed from this game: The macro view The main battle I watched was the chess match between Gary Joseph and Todd Dodge that took place when Westlake was on offense. I wish we could have seen how this battle would have gone if Westlake had taken on last year's Katy defense, an all-time elite unit. Katy's defense looks different this year without Jovanni Stewart around, a Tyrann Mathieu clone that they were creatively deploying as an outside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. In this game they played their normal, off coverage quarters schemes while mixing in four and five man pressures that were often disguised better than you see from Big 12 teams. However, one of the big themes of the game was the supremacy of the Chaparral offensive line, despite working without D1 prospect Stephan Zabie. They moved over big Joe Heironimus (6'3" 275) to left tackle and they played very well both in pass protection as well as in their run schemes. Between the solid pass protection, not infrequent max protections that Dodge called, and Ehlinger's ability to make something happen with his legs, the Tiger pressure packages really failed to impact this game very positively. In fact, many of Westlake's biggest plays came from Ehlinger either scrambling for yardage or to buy time before throwing down field. Ehlinger's abilities when under pressure were the most dominant feature of this game and undoubtedly what swung a 33-28 contest in Westlake's direction. He also did some solid damage throwing with accuracy on the hitch routes outside the hash marks that Katy invites their HS opponents to beat them with. Finally, Ehlinger provided the strain on Katy's defense that he does on every HS defense by being a threat in the run game to discourage playing deep safeties in quarters defense. Those two abilities allowed Westlake to stay ahead of the chains with short gains in the run and the pass but Katy's secondary tackles too well for even Ehlinger to make a living that way. Instead it was the off-schedule plays and a deep toss to H-back Connor Howard that made the difference. https://streamable.com/vmo1 Katy's own efforts to match the Westlake offense fell short against the Chaps' aggressive 4-2-5 defense. The Chaps ability to bring a lot of pressure on the edges and the reliable tackling of their own safeties made for a difficult day for the Katy offense. However, they still did some damage with their own run game which has a new athlete to feature in sophomore Deondrick Glass, who went for 178. He'll be one to watch for the class of 2019. Speaking of that... Noteworthy players There were a lot of good players in this game and my eyes probably missed a few or didn't get full, strong impressions of others, but here's what I did notice. Sam Ehlinger (2017) I've written a ton on Ehlinger already and have tended to describe him as "Drew Brees crossed with Tim Tebow." He runs like a fullback and has real power in his lateral cuts and initial steps that belies his lack of breakaway speed (he's a 4.8 guy). Ehlinger is hard to tackle, plenty quick enough to work the edge on zone read, and big and tough enough to run between the tackles. He's probably similar to Baker Mayfield in terms of athleticism if Mayfield could run through arm tackles. He's a dream prospect for a spread offense and whoever is coaching him should and will cater their system some to his abilities because his skill set is unique. Deondrick Glass (2019) Perhaps the 2nd best player in this game, he's only about 5-10, 185 right now but he's blazing quick and will probably end up around 200-210 without losing any of that quickness. He's already got offers from Tennessee, Florida State, Arkansas, Oklahoma State, and Washington so no one is looking past him because he plays for Katy. Brody Anderson (2017) So, white dudes that stand at 5-9 or so and about 185 pounds don't tend to generate a ton of buzz in recruiting. As far as I know, this guy doesn't even have any offers. However, he probably runs at least in the 4.7 range, he's got lateral quicks, and he's a fantastic open field tackler. Katy uses him in the alley like a middle linebacker in a "tampa-2" style coverage they play and also as one of their two safeties charged with not allowing ANYTHING to break their "bend don't break" schemes. He's phenomenal at it and you rarely see him miss a tackle. He seems the type to end up as a star at a program like North Dakota State but he could also be the dude that ends up winning a starting role after walking on at a power 5 school. His fit in the Big 12 is tougher, it'd be nice to see how he does playing on top of routes from slots with 4.6 speed. He might make for a good nickel if he can add good weight and it's possible he'd be a better safety than many would assume. Levi Jones (2017) I was not very impressed with Levi Jones. Westlake is using him as an ILB and virtually every snap features him taking a few lateral steps while trying to read flow and then trying to maintain a crease and get low enough to make the tackle if the ball comes his way. He doesn't fly to the ball, he doesn't greet the point of attack with violence, and he just didn't make many plays in this game. He might be out of position, I know many expect him to fill out his frame and end up at something like 6-2, 230 or so in the future and be an OLB. I'm not sure I see a physical kid that I would want to feature on the edge of my defense. So many other defenders on both teams stood out more than Jones did. Connor Howard (2017) I think maybe Howard was injured and this game and hasn't played since? He was one of the best players on the field. The Chaps often lined him up in the backfield with Ehlinger and Nakia Watson, a thundering 212 pounder that'll probably be a fullback at the next level. He would throw a block in the box one play, take a handoff the next, and then go wide and run routes or block on the perimeter. Very versatile kid, clearly understands the game at a high level. But that's not uncommon at the high school level, what is uncommon is his 4.6 speed and willingness to go over the middle against guys like Brody Anderson. Howard looked like a Big 12-caliber prospect to me but if he's hurt and missing much of the year I'm not sure how his recruiting will go. Someone could get a steal. Others I didn't notice Katy DE Corey Bethley is a highly rate prospect but I didn't notice him much. He might have had a nice game but it just didn't register much of an impact to me while I was focusing on Ehlinger's battle with the Katy scheme. The Tiger nose tackle was more obviously active and disruptive, though that might be because Westlake is much smaller at center and LG then they are at LT, RG, or RT. Katy LB Breydon Boyd is a highly rated prospect, thanks in part to his 6-4, 220 pound frame, but he didn't have an amazing game. He had a ton of plays where he was in charge of containing Ehlinger on the scramble if the pressure didn't get home. He was usually too shallow to stop Sam from hitting an open man on the hash or out on the numbers, yet he also wasn't able to corral Sam and was beaten several times on Ehlinger's scrambles up the middle. Unless he could spin down I don't see this guy at a B12 program. Some of the Westlake OL are probably worth a look somewhere, particularly Heironimus. The Katy OTs Connor Galvin (6-6, 230, 2018) and Hayden Howerton (6-4, 252 2017) didn't come into my view that much while tracking Levi Jones but when they did, they tended to look pretty good. Katy TE Parker Eichenberger didn't stand out to me save for a play where he dropped a potential 3rd down conversion, but Katy was living on the edges with outside zone so he was probably blocking pretty well. Andrew Boykin was clearly Ehlinger's favorite receiver, and at 6-1, 175 he's a big outside target at this level. The kid is tough and has reliable hands but I can't see him being a significant part of a Big 12 roster. Not enough speed to be more than a possession receiver.