LHHS prepares for another elite quarterback

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By Keith Sparks

Another week, another great quarterback.

After beating Sealy last Friday, the Panthers now have only the La Vernia Bears standing in their way of the State Semifinal. According to Liberty Hill Head Coach Jeff Walker, La Vernia quarterback Clayton Chadwick (#18) could be the best quarterback they’ve faced all season.

“Offensively, and you’ve probably heard me say this more than once already, but they might have the best quarterback we’ve seen,” Walker said. “The only reason I say that is we’ve seen better passing ones and we’ve seen some that may be a little better than him running, but he can run really, really well and he throws the ball well. He’s probably the best all-around quarterback we’ve seen. He’s the engine that makes them go.”

Chadwick’s numbers back it up. Over 13 games, he’s thrown for 2,716 yards on a 63-percent completion rate, good for an average of 209 yards per game. He’s also thrown for 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. According to Walker, however, it isn’t just his arm that makes defenses nervous.

“He’s a lot like the kid from Hutto was,” Walker said. “If he went down, they’re not going to be what they are. This kid’s the same way. If something were to happen to him, they’d be done. He throws it and he runs. I think he’s thrown for more than 2,000 yards and he’s rushed for over 1,000 yards. He’s got the stats.”

Chadwick leads the Bears in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by a pretty wide margin, as well, having run for 1,556 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns this season, an average of 119.7 rushing yards per game.

“They’re well-balanced,” Walker said. “I think they’re about 50-50 run-pass, and they do both very well.”

Chadwick isn’t the only runner that can do damage for the Bears, considering their starting running back, Diego Mendoza (#30), has run for 1,162 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Walker said that tandem will be tough to stop, regardless of what the weather might be.

“You’d think the rain might hurt them, but they like to run the power game,” Walker said. “They have a good running back and the quarterback, and he’s super hard to tackle one-on-one, so they’re good in whatever weather comes Friday.”

The Bears don’t haven’t anybody that sticks out on the other side of the ball, but Walker said all 11 players run to the ball well, a lot like Sealy’s defense last week.

“Defensively, they’re solid,” Walker said. “There’s not a kid over there that you’d think is their star. They have defensive tackles that are 6’4” 220, some bigger kids, but they’re not much bigger than we are. They’re hard-nosed, play hard, do their assignments. Defensively, they’re a lot like Sealy, but I wouldn’t say they’re as quick as Sealy was, but real similar as far as all 11 kids playing real, real hard on that side of the ball.”

As far as the Panthers’ health is concerned, they’ll likely trot out the same roster they did against Sealy, which is a good sign considering all of the injuries they’ve suffered thus far. Other than season-ending injuries suffered by a handful of players earlier in the season, the only concerns are some bruised elbows, sore ankles, and a less-than-ideal shoulder situation for starting center Josh Lapuszynski.

“We’re really beat up,” Walker said. “I know Josh’s shoulder is bothering him. Not enough to keep him out Friday, but he’s not 100 percent. We have a lot of bum ankles, a lot of kids limping around today, but I think that’s just part of the territory when you’re going into week 14. You’re going to have some bumps and bruises and some sore ankles.”

The game between La Vernia and Liberty Hill will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at San Marcos High School.

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