For all the delicious history surrounding the head coaches
in Saturday's Texas 6A Division 1 football championship between Austin Westlake and Southlake Carroll, it's the quarterback spot that demands most of the attention after kickoff.
As it's always been.
Carroll's Quinn Ewers
and Westlake's Cade Klubnik
are two of the top junior quarterbacks in the country and poised to write their own name on that list of greats.
In fact, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Ewers is not only rated the No. 1 junior quarterback in the nation by 247Sports, but with 30 college offers he's also the No. 1 recruit overall.
Despite missing six games due to a sports hernia, the Ohio State commit has made up for lost time by throwing for 2,091 yards, 25 touchdowns against three interceptions in seven starts.
That's ahead of last season's pace, when he led the Dragons to a 13-1 on the way to being named the MaxPreps Sophomore of the Year. He completed better than 70 percent of his passes (291 of 402) last season for 4,003 yards, 45 touchdowns with three interceptions. Blessed with excellent mobility, he also rushed for 568 yards and nine touchdowns.
How to watch
What: UIL 6A Division 1 football championship
Teams: Southlake Carroll (12-1) vs. Austin Westlake (13-0)
Date: Saturday, Jan. 16 | Time: 7 p.m. CT
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington TexasTV:
FOX Sports Southwest | Live Stream: FoxSportsGo
The combination of a strong arm, quick feet, poise and decision-making projects him to be perhaps Southlake Carroll's top prospect. He'll get no argument from head coach Riley Dodge, himself on the list of the school's all-time greats. Dodge was the 2006 MaxPreps National Player of the year.
"The thing about Quinn that separates him from a lot of high school kids
is he's just so cool, calm, and collected," Riley Dodge told 247Sports heading into 2020. "He doesn't get
caught up in the game. The kid is very comfortable in his own skin and
that's what you want in a quarterback.
"We're not even close to where he will be once he graduates. I've got to
continue to remind myself that I have two more seasons with him. He's a very polished kid right now, but we've got a lot to work
on. I think his feet are where we want him and now it's about taking the
next step with defensive recognition, and then things will slow down
and he will play at a really elite level."
Klubnik is also playing at an elite level and he's also coached by a Dodge.
Westlake coach Todd Dodge is Riley's father and his former head coach at Carroll. And he knows something about the position.
Todd Dodge was a record-breaking Texas high school quarterback in the early 80s, and started at the University of Texas, before emerging as one of the state's top high school coaches, most prominently with Carroll. His prized pupil was Riley, who led the Dragons to a 2006 title, one of four Todd won at Carroll.
Last season, Todd Dodge led Westlake to its second state title — Brees quarterbacked the other in 1996 — behind then senior quarterback Kirkland Michaux
, who after sitting as a backup for more than three seasons, accounted for almost 3,300 yards and 51 touchdowns. In his final two games, Michaux threw for 595 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a school record seven TDs in the semifinals, breaking Ehlinger's mark of six.
Michaux's future was in baseball, but waiting in his wings was Klubnik, a definite football prospect.
The 6-3, 185-pounder is the No. 30 junior overall in the state and No. 7 pro style quarterback in the country. He has 26 college offers and has completed 221 of 333 passes for 3,274 yards with 34 touchdowns against three interceptions in 13 games.
Like Ewers, Klubnik has excellent feet and has rushed for 493 yards and 13 touchdowns. His most important was a 1-yard, go-ahead plunge last week late in Westlake's startling 24-21 win over two-time defending champion North Shore. Klubnik led a 69-yard scoring drive after North Shore took its first lead 21-17 with 4:16 to play. It was the first time Westlake trailed all season.
But Klubnik calmly led the Chaps down the field, keyed by a 47-yard completion to
. Four plays later, on 4th down, Klubnik scored the game winner, improving Dodge's coaching record to 217-70.
"A big-time player stepped up big time in a big-time game and that was Cade Klubnik," Todd Dodge told the Austin Statesman
Besides the quarterbacks, here are more key points to Texas' final game of the season in the state's largest classification.
• This is the first time the Dodges have met as coaches with the game dubbed the "Dodge Bowl." Riley Dodge missed last week's semifinal win due to testing positive for COVID-19, but is expected to be on the Carroll sideline.
• Both teams pulled off upsets to reach the finals. Westlake not only surprised North Shore, but Carroll scored 13 unanswered, second-half points to down then-No. 5 Duncanville 34-27. Sophomore running back Owen Allen
led the way with 33 carries for 192 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Duncanville had eliminated Carroll the previous two seasons.
• Westlake has won 23 straight games.
• The two teams have met three times since 2004 with Southlake Carroll winning 43-29 in the 2006 state title game and 17-14 in 2014. Westlake won the 2015 meeting 20-14.
• Southlake Carroll has won eight state titles, but a victory Saturday would be the first in the 6A-1 classification. The Dragons last won a state title in 2011.
• Other top Carroll recruits are receiver Brady Boyd
(Minnesota), kicker Joe McFadden
(Connecticut), safety Cinque Williams
and tight end RJ Maryland
. Statistical leaders: Allen (2,023 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns), receivers Landon Samson
(69 catches, 1,202 yards, 15 touchdowns), Boyd (59, 969, 16) and Maryland (27, 669, 12), kicker McFadden (72 of 73 extra points, 11 of 12 field goals).
Southlake Carroll vs. Austin Westlake