Two years after Austin Westlake had its way with shorthanded Guyer in the Class 6A Division II title game, Jackson Arnold gets a mulligan.
The then-freshman quarterback was thrust into duty when Texas A&M recruit Eli Stowers went down with a knee injury on the game’s first drive.
Arnold, who has since developed into one of the top juniors in the country, looks to help Guyer atone for the 24-0 loss on Saturday when the teams meet again at AT&T Stadium.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Arnold said of the rematch. “I wouldn’t want to play any other team.”
It’s been 722 days since the shutout, a driving force for Arnold and teammates who remember the Dec. 21, 2019 sting.
Westlake and Guyer have consistently been among the best in the state all year. MaxPreps lists Westlake (15-0) as the No. 2-ranked team in Texas and Guyer (14-1) at No. 5 regardless of classification.
Metric-based and expert websites such as Calpreps, Massey Ratings and TexasFootball.com list Guyer as a considerable underdog.
“We’re not going out there to be conservative,” Guyer coach Rodney Webb said. “We’re not going out there to make a good showing. We’re going out there to win the game, so our plan and our effort is going to embody that.”
Westlake boasts the No. 1 scoring offense as well as the No. 1 scoring defense in 6A. In fact, Westlake has won its games by an average of nearly 50 points per game and has only allowed two teams to score 21 points this year.
That prolific offense is led by five-star, Clemson signee Cade Klubnik, who out-dueled new Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers in last year’s state championship. In 2021, Klubnik has passed for 2,971 yards and 39 touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Webb believes the real strength of Westlake starts with its offensive line.
“They have a nasty, physically offensive line,” he said. “That’s been the secret to their success.”
That line has also allowed Westlake to rack up 241 yards rushing per game and 60 rushing touchdowns.
And while Westlake rarely commits turnovers, Guyer’s defense has skins on the wall to make life difficult for Klubnik and company.
The Wildcats have forced 35 takeaways this year and are 10-0 when they win the turnover battle.
Guyer’s defense has thwarted teams throughout the postseason, holding four opponents to fewer than 300 total yards. The Wildcats held Prosper (quarterfinals) and Tomball (semifinals) to fewer than 100 passing yards.
And while it’s a shot for the program to pick up its third state title in the school’s 16-year history, it’s also a chance for Webb to etch his name into the record books and claim his first title as a head coach.
“They’re hard to get and they’re hard to get to,” Webb said. “You never know as a coach when you’re going to get back.”