their personnel and tailor the offense and defense to the people they have,” Abseck said after a recent practice. “We don’t get to recruit; we get the kids that grow up here, and it’s our job to put them in a spot where they can be successful.”
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Sexton helped the Timberwolves to a Class 5A, Division II state championship in 2015, and he guided Cedar Park into the third round of the 2016 playoffs.
Sexton has a 28-1 record as a starter, and he holds virtually all of the school’s passing records.
His grasp of the offense and ability to throw downfield gives the Timberwolves plenty of options on offense, and Cedar Park has averaged almost 43 points a game in his 29 starts.
It’s been a sea change for a program that used a physical running game to batter its way to a spot among the state’s elite teams.
Former head coach Chris Ross built Cedar Park into a powerhouse at the start of this decade by running the ball and crafting a ferocious defense that retains its “Black Rain” moniker.
Abseck, an offensive assistant for Ross’ staff, estimated that the Timberwolves ran the ball “80 percent of the time” during Ross’ tenure.
Cedar Park incorporated more spread elements into its offense after Joe Willis replaced Ross in 2012, and a willingness to throw the ball has only grown since Abseck became head coach in 2015.
Over the past two years, Sexton has thrown 51 touchdown passes, including 29 during the Timberwolves’ undefeated state-title campaign of 2015. This year? “We’ll probably throw the ball 60 percent of the time,” Abseck said.
“Mak’s bigger, faster and stronger than when he was a sophomore, and his grasp of the offense is even greater. He’ll have an opportunity to do something with the ball every play.”
Sexton, who’s being heavily recruited by Trinity University in San Antonio and Texas A&M-Kingsville, will be protected by an experienced offensive line led by Jonathan Kelly.
He pointed out, too, that three of Cedar Park’s top receivers in 2016 — Carson Neel, Drew McDaniel and Payden Sawicki — return.
“The offense always starts with the o-linemen,” Sexton said, “but as a quarterback, you get the ball every play, and your job is to distribute the ball and get it in the right spots.”
Kelly has played with Sexton since peewee football, and he appreciates what his longtime teammate can do to keep defenses off balance.
“It’s kind of rare when you get a quarterback like Mak coming through our program,” he said. “We trust him, and we like to put the offense in his hands.
“He’s matured a lot as a quarterback. He’s taking care of the offense and has made it his own.”
As he enters his final high school season, Sexton wants to live up to his teammates’ faith in him while leading the Timberwolves to their third state championship in the past six years.
“I was a scared little sophomore with a bunch of senior starters (in 2015),” he said. “Now, I like the ball in my hands. If I want to, I can put the ball in my hands and put the game in my hands.”
Do-it-all offensive lineman Jonathan Kelly (63) anchors the Timberwolves’ experienced line.