6A Division I
Conroe The Woodlands (15-0) vs. Austin Lake Travis (14-1)
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Saturday 8 PM
It's taken 13 years but The Woodlands is headed back to the state championship game. The Highlanders will be appearing in its first state final since 2003 when they lost to Galena Park North Shore.
Lake Travis advances to its second consecutive state championship game in Class 6A, five years after completing a run that saw the Cavaliers win five straight championships in Class 4A, which was then the second largest classification.
The Highlanders are largely considered the underdogs in Saturday's UIL Class 6A Division I state final against the playoff seasoned Cavaliers.
Lake Travis jumped to the highest class in 2012, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Since then the Cavaliers has followed with three trips to the semifinals and now two consecutive finals appearances.
The Woodlands has only advanced past the state quarterfinals three times in school history and played for the title only once. But the Highlanders enter the state title game after defeating Katy and George Ranch, both defending state champions this season, and Allen who has reached the state semifinals five consecutive years.
BATTLE OF THE QUARTERBACKS
This season Lake Travis senior quarterback Charlie Brewer has passed for 3,669 yards and 52 touchdowns against just one interception. Brewer has completed an astounding 78 percent of his passes this season averaging 20 pass attempts per game.
Brewer, an SMU commit, has totaled nearly 8,000 passing yards in his high school career. In last week’s 63-21 win in the Class 6A DI semifinals over Humble Atascocita Brewer finished 26 of 32 passing for 261 yards with five touchdown tosses.
Brewer is the latest quarterback in Lake Travis’ succession of quality trigger men beginning with Todd Reesing, then Garrett Gilbert, Charlie’s older brother Michael Brewer, to Baker Mayfield and most recently Dominic De Lira.
Eric Schmid, a dual-threat, option-read quarterback, leads a high-powered Highlander offense that averages 45.7 points per game. Schmid has thrown for 3,415 yards and 44 touchdowns while rushing for 963 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Schmid, a Sam Houston State commit, had outstanding game in his team’s 36-28 Class 6A DI semifinals win over perennial power Allen. Schmid threw for 369 yards going 21 for 32 passing with three touchdown passes.
The Highlanders bring quality receivers for Schmid including senior Kesean Carter, who finished with seven catches for 184 yards and a touchdown against Allen, and senior Dylan Casey finished second on the team with 140 receiving yards on five catches, including a 68-yard touchdown against the Eagles.
Carlos Ramos is the go to back for The Woodlands after the season ending injury to Jordan Talford.
The Cavaliers have a trio of wide-outs for Brewer including Cade Green, Wisconsin commit, Mac Humble, Penn commit, and perhaps the most talented Cav receiver, sophomore Garrett Wilson.
But it’s the talented tight end Cade Brewer, SMU commit and no relation to Charlie, that may cause havoc for the Highlanders. Cade had three touchdown catches from Charlie Brewer in last week’s win over Atascocita.
Maleek Barkley is an outstanding running back and receiver out of the backfield for the Cavaliers.
UNSTOPPABLE FORCE MEETS IMMOVABLE OBJECT
The Woodlands’ defense faces a prolific Lake Travis offense that is averaging almost 53 points and 500 yards per game. The Cavaliers haven’t scored fewer than 40 points since they opened the season with a 35-28 loss at Converse Judson.
This is Woodlands’ defense that held Allen to under 100 yards for the first time since Week two. A unit that recorded six sacks in the playoff win over Round Rock led by defensive end Michael Purcell, Air Force commit, who recorded two huge sacks in the final minutes over Allen.
Senior defensive linemen, Connor Barnett and Zach Loane, senior linebackers Cole Sichley, Zach La Canfora, Eugene Bizer and Troy Kruchten all bring experience and talent to the Highlanders’ 3-4 defensive front.
Last week the Cavs scored touchdowns on their first four possessions in the win over Humble Atascocita.
An opportunity to win their first state championship isn’t the only motivating factor for the Highlanders during the past few weeks. Senior linebacker Grant Milton required emergency brain surgery after suffering a serious head injury in the Highlanders’ regional semifinal win over Austin Bowie on Nov. 26.
Milton remains comatose but has been transferred to a local Conroe hospital, and reports say he has shown signs of improvement. The Highlanders plan to honor Milton on Saturday by wearing the same white jerseys and pants they wore against Bowie.
Countless Woodlands fans have been wearing shirts with Grant Milton’s jersey number, 21, to the playoff games.
The Woodlands dressed 65 seniors in the semifinal win over Allen with eight offensive starters and seven defensive starters are from the Class of 2017. Their classmate Milton has become a driving force behind the Highlanders playoff run.
The Cavaliers’ seniors have unfinished business as Lake Travis will play for their sixth state title, and if they win, their first in Class 6A, and will be playing in a Class 6A final for the second straight year.
Five years ago Lake Travis completed its state-record run of five consecutive Class 4A championships, led by a young quarterback named Baker Mayfield.
Charlie Brewer’s father is Robert Brewer, a successful UT quarterback who was the MVP in the 1982 Cotton Bowl Classic win over Alabama. Brewer’s grandfather is Charles Brewer, his namesake, who was a starter for the Longhorns and Charlie will surely become the fifth family member to play quarterback in college, including his great uncle Robert (Texas Tech) and brother Michael (Virginia Tech).
Eric Schmid, a football coach’s kid, has always tagged along with his dad Mark Schmid who is in his 13th year as the head coach for The Woodlands and was the offensive coordinator for the Highlanders the previous nine years before that. Eric was born to be a Highlander and was a ball boy for his dad’s early Woodlands teams.
THE OLD COACH PREDICTION
Lake Travis 48 - The Woodlands 42
The Old Coach looks for a game filled with defensive gems from both squads that becomes a shootout with The Woodlands mounting a comeback that falls short.