Cedar Park’s Fry is tough ‘nut’ to crack on the field

Wolves

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - Above: First-year Cedar Park foot­ball coach Joe Wil­lis and his team will face San An­to­nio Bren­nan in a Class 4A, Di­vi­sion II quar­ter­fi­nal Fri­day night at the Alam­od­ome. Jamie harms / FOR acn ash­ley lan­dis / FOR amer­i­can-states­man Con­tact Rick Cantu at 445

wolves try to reach the state semi­flnals af­ter three straight trips to the quar­ter­flnals. Fry, ac­cord­ing to coaches, team­mates and stu­dent train­ers, dis­plays an in­fec­tious per­son­al­ity that helps keep ev­ery­one up­beat.

“Ethan’s the kind of guy ev­ery­one wants to be their friend once they’ve met him,” said Bradi Bedell, a sopho­more trainer.

“He’s a nut,” said former Cedar Park coach Chris Ross, who’s now the ath­letic di­rec­tor for the Le­an­der-Cedar Park school district.

Whether Fry’s wear­ing “fake glasses that make him look like a nerd” or telling jokes in the locker room, Ross said, ev­ery team needs a player like Fry, one who can break the ten­sion of a pres­sure-packed sea­son.

“This is prob­a­bly the loos­est team I’ve been on,” said Fry, a three-year var­sity player. “We’ve be­come a very closeknit team.”

Wil­lis said Fry had no ob­jec­tions to switch­ing po­si­tions, even though he ex­celled as a run­ning back last sea­son. At re­ceiver, Fry has a great op­por­tu­nity to make big plays down the fleld, but he still lines up in the back­fleld on oc­ca­sion. The red jersey he wears in prac­tice in­di­cates he also is a backup quar­ter­back.

The emer­gence of Grimm as a top-fi­ight quar­ter­back has helped Cedar Park be­come a ver­sa­tile team on of­fense. The Tim­ber­wolves, who av­er­aged only 11 points in their flrst flve games, have av­er­aged 36 in their past eight con­tests.

In play­off vic­to­ries over Crock­ett, Ker­rville Tivy and Alice, Cedar Park has av­er­aged 45 points.

“We’ve got seven or eight guys we can turn to on any given night for of­fense,” said Wil­lis, who re­placed Ross be­fore this sea­son. That group in­cludes run­ning back Nathan Har­well (90 yards rush­ing on three car­ries against Alice); Grimm (318 to­tal yards against Tivy); and run­ning backs Chris Hutch­ings and Stoney Schoen­feld (150 rush­ing yards com­bined against Crock­ett).

Af­ter los­ing to even­tual state cham­pion Lake Travis in the quar­ter­flnals in 2010 and 2011, Cedar Park will be satisi­fled by noth­ing less than a state ti­tle this year. When asked if he had “dreams” about win­ning state, Grimm changed the tone of ques­tion.

“Win­ning state is a goal,” Grimm said, “not a dream.”

A state tro­phy would sur­pass an im­pres­sive achieve­ment reached by a hand­ful of Tim­ber­wolves when they were flfth-graders. Back in 2005, the Le­an­der-Cedar Park Ben­gals, which in­cluded Fry, Har­well, and of­fen­sive line­men Austin Bryant and Austin Hisler, reached the Pop Warner Na­tional Cham­pi­onships in Or­lando, Fla.

“We came in third place,” Fry re­called.

Third place isn’t the goal this year. of­fense, which he tweaked at mid-sea­son by putting flrstyear quar­ter­back Jor­dan Sev­ert un­der cen­ter more of­ten and adding ad­di­tional pass pro­tec­tion. Now, the Chaps are two vic­to­ries short of a state-ti­tle game.

“I don’t want to be any­where where there’s not any pres­sure,” All­man said this week af­ter prac­tice for the Chaps’ quar­ter­flnal matchup against Plano West on Satur­day. “We haven’t had any tough times com­par­a­tively. I’ve seen good pro­grams that have fallen on hard times. Los­ing in the flrst round is not a tough time.”

De­pends on your van­tage point ob­vi­ously. A 1-3 start to this sea­son didn’t look promis­ing, but the de­feats in­cluded losses to de­fend­ing state flnal­ist Ci­bolo Steele and A&M Con­sol­i­dated, a de­feat West­lake avenged in a big way in the play­offs. All­man coached one-time pow­er­house Brown­wood through a 1-8-1 sea­son. Be­fore he went 33-6 in his last three sea­sons at Odessa Per­mian, his flrst team at his alma mater flnished 5-5. Those were tough times.

Cer­tainly the pho­to­genic fans in the fourth row may see it dif­fer­ently than the guy mak­ing the de­ci­sion to go for the flrst down or kick the fleld goal. Speak­ing of which, All­man was smart to go for it and run an off-tackle power play — West­lake’s bread and but­ter — rather than have the tal­ented Michael Bar­den kick a short fleld goal on a fourt­hand-2 in­side the 5 against Lake Travis.

The play got stuffed, and

West­lake (9-4) vs. Plano West (9-4), 2 p.m. Satur­day (Waco ISD Sta­dium)

Ge­orge­town (13-0) vs. Ned­er­land (12-1), 3 p.m. Satur­day (Berry Cen­ter, Cy­press)

Rouse (9-4) vs. Cor­pus Christi Flour Bluff (13-0), 7 p.m. Satur­day (Bob­cat Sta­dium, San Mar­cos)

Cedar Park (11-2) vs. San An­to­nio Bren­nan (13-0), 7:30 p.m. Fri­day (Alam­od­ome, San An­to­nio)

Manor (10-3) vs. Fort Bend Mar­shall (13-0), 8 p.m. Satur­day (Alam­od­ome) Lake Travis burned West­lake for a 96-yard touch­down pass and a 14-11 win, but All­man has no re­grets.

“Dar­ren didn’t blink,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jeff Rhoads said. “We went for it, and we’d do it again. Dar­ren’s a great vi­sion­ary. Ev­ery­thing he touches, he makes bet­ter.”

He hasn’t made the Chaps a state cham­pion yet, but re­mem­ber, Schroeder pro­duced just one in 17 years at West­lake and is still li­on­ized.

It hasn’t helped that West­lake plays in the shadow of — and now in the same 155A district as — Lake Travis, but All­man tips his hat to Lake Travis’ dom­i­nance and even says he was root­ing for the Cava­liers be­fore they joined West­lake’s district. He ac­knowl­edges the Cava­liers’ pres­ence makes West­lake bet­ter, the same as Mid­land Lee did for Odessa Per­mian. Even Cavs coach Hank Carter said, “Dar­ren and his staff do an in­cred­i­ble job. They get a ton out of their kids, but that’s not enough for some peo­ple.”

For All­man’s part, he said, “It’s healthy to have a ri­val like them. It keeps the flre hot.”

Hot flre, he’s al­ready got, but the phys­i­cal grind of Lake Travis’ flrst sea­son in 5A may have worn down the in­juryrid­dled Cavs, who bowed out in the flrst round of the play­offs. Hall no­ticed and said, “Here we are, and they’re not.”

The same could be said for All­man, and West­lake should be glad he’s here.

Cedar Park quar­ter­back Nate Grimm leads an of­fense that has av­er­aged 45 points per game in play­off vic­to­ries over Crock­ett, Ker­rville Tivy and Alice.

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