AUSTIN — Belton coach Sam Skidmore figured earlier this week that if there was indeed a quarterback battle between Kirkland Michaux, Cade Klubnik and Drew Willhoughby going on at Austin Westlake, the candidates to run the Chaparrals’ offense probably all were “pretty dang good.”
That was accurate enough Friday night. Skidmore also presumed Belton would face some adversity on the road against a top-10 opponent in Week 1. That became true a few minutes after the season’s opening kickoff.
The seventh-ranked Chaparrals played all three of their signal-callers — who utilized a skilled receiving corps to its fullest — led by 34 points at halftime and scooted to a 48-0 victory over the Tigers at Chaparral Stadium.
“We didn’t do a very good job of executing,” Skidmore said. “I thought the effort was great. I thought we flew around and played hard. But that’s a really good football team.
“It’s early and that’s why you play good teams. I think we have a lot of upside in us. We just have to clean some things up.”
Michaux finished with 225 yards passing and three touchdowns, Willoughby tossed two scores, and Klubnik went 7-of-11 as the trio combined for 403 of the Chaparrals’ 535-yard output. Belton was held to 135 yards by a Chaps defense that picked up where it left off a season ago, when it yielded less than 10 points per game.
Westlake spread the wealth, too. Ryan Lindley caught 12 passes for 158 yards, Mason Magnum had 103 yards, and four players had at least one TD receiving for coach Todd Dodge’s crew.
“I didn’t have to deviate from the plan,” Dodge said about rotating the three quarterbacks. “I told them all that I hoped we could stay with the plan. We moved the ball with all of them and so I was able to evaluate. Now, we’ve got some great video.”
In a way, Belton does as well, just for different purposes.
“It’s about growing,” said Tigers senior safety Jason Stephens, who also played wide receiver and had four catches for 24 yards. “Coach said we scheduled this team knowing it would be tough, just to see what we got. Just seeing the characters we’ve got, the leaders we’ve got, now it’s time to grow. Get up, look at film, correct what we did wrong and move on. Forget about it.”
Westlake put up points on each of its six first-half possessions, hardly skipping a beat while using the three quarterbacks, who combined to go 19-of-27 over the first 24 minutes. Meanwhile, Belton’s first drive of the night started at its 5-yard line, and it didn’t get much better than that during a first half in which the Tigers were outgained 318-74.
“We have to be a lot better in the run game. That’s first and foremost. We have to run the ball better,” Skidmore said.
Belton quarterback Ruben Jimenez had a team-high 31 yards rushing. He went 11-for-21 passing for 55 yards.
Michaux started and completed nine of 10 passes over his first two series, which ended in touchdown catches by Lindley and Mangum for a 14-0 lead 11 minutes into the contest.
David Leadbetter added a 27-yard field goal before Westlake cashed in a pair of Belton turnovers — Leo Lowin’s interception of Jimenez and Austin McClendon’s fumble recovery — for 14 points by way of Willoughby touchdown passes to Lindley (6 yards) and Luke Nicklos (36 yards) that went toward a 31-0 cushion midway through the second quarter.
Leadbetter capped the first half with a 21-yard field goal.
Grey Nakfoor had a 5-yard TD run, and Jaden Greathouse added a 24-yard scoring catch in the second half.
AUSTIN WESTLAKE 48, BELTON 0
Belton 0 0 0 0 — 0
Westlake 14 20 7 7 — 48
Wes — Ryan Lindley 25 pass from Kirkland Michaux (David Leadbetter kick)
Wes — Mason Mangum 6 pass from Michaux (Leadbetter kick)
Wes — Leadbetter 27 FG
Wes — Lindley 6 pass from Drew Willoughby (Leadbetter kick)
Wes — Luke Nicklos 36 pass from Willoughby (Leadbetter kick)
Wes — Leadbetter 21 FG
Wes — Jaden Greathouse 24 pass from Michaux (Leadbetter kick)
Wes — Grey Nakfoor 5 run (Leadbetter kick)
First downs 8 26
Rushes-yards 23-80 25-127
Passing yards 55 408
Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-21-1 33-47-0
Punts-average 6-35.3 0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 6-50 6-60
RUSHING — Belton: Ruben Jimenez 7-31, Nick Cipola 3-21, Mike Davis 4-18, D’emante Smith 9-10; Westlake: Michaux 6-33, Nakfoor 5-33, Zane Minors 1-28, Klubnik 6-27, Lindley 1-7, Jax Crockett 4-(-1), Willoughby 1-0, Santiago Noyola 1-0, team 1-(-6).
PASSING — Belton: Jimenez 11-21-1-55; Westlake: Michaux 18-24-0-225, Willoughby 7-10-0-118, Klubnik 7-11-60, Noyola 1-2-0-5.
RECEIVING — Belton: Jason Stephens 4-24, Smith 3-15, Luke Bramlett 2-7, Wriley Madden 1-7, Gunner Garrett 1-4; Westlake: Lindley 12-158, Mangum 8-103, Greathouse 5-82, Nicklos 2-44, Jake Misch 3-12, Caelan Campbell 2-7, Rhett Giesecke 1-1.