Long before he became a quarterback at Cedar Park High, Mak Sexton was a ball boy who checked in daily for the Timberwolves’ 5 a.m. practices.
For five years, Sexton took his duties as a ball boy as seriously as the players studied playbooks. If former Cedar Park football coach Chris Ross needed a hand, he would call upon young Mak. The boy would hike the ball to the kickers, help the athletic trainers, shag balls, run errands, do whatever was necessary to keep practices moving.
At Cedar Park’s post-season football banquet in 2011, Ross paid tribute to his team’s ball boy, telling the audience that Sexton was the only person who never missed a practice.
Current Timberwolves head coach Carl Abseck, formerly the team’s offensive coordinator, said Sexton honed his work ethic by attending those football practices before sunrise. Now, Abseck refers to Sexton as the “best quarterback we’ve ever had at Cedar Park.”
Abseck and Sexton are practically joined at the hip. When Abseck became the Timberwolves’ head coach in 2015, Sexton was a sophomore quarterback who was expected to share time with senior Baxter Robertson. When Robertson was injured in the first half of the season opener, though, Sexton took over.
At this point, the Abseck-Sexton combo has a 32-2 record — and a Class 5A, Division II state championship in 2015 — in two-plus seasons.
“Mak is win-driven, not stat-driven,” Abseck said Tuesday after a team film session.
Sexton’s all-business demeanor fits with the Timberwolves’ under-the-radar season. After an opening-night loss to Waco Midway, Cedar Park has quietly won four straight to earn a No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll.
Cedar Park’s joined in the Class 5A state poll by ninth-ranked Dripping Springs (5-0), and the Timberwolves still have to face unranked, unbeaten Hutto, which has outscored its five opponents 243-86 this season, in a District 19-5A matchup on Nov. 3.
“At a young age you know that if you go to Cedar Park, you’re going to win and become part of the tradition,” said Sexton, who has completed 72.9 percent of his passes this season while averaging 228 yards a game. He has thrown 18 touchdown passes, including six to senior wideout Payden Sawicki, against three interceptions.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Sexton started grooming himself to become Cedar Park’s quarterback when he played the position for the Leander-Cedar Park Huskies as a 4-year-old. His father, Bob, was his youth league coach for eight years.
“He’s always had a calm, strong demeanor,” Sexton said of his only son, who has scholarship offers from Trinty and Texas A&M-Kingsville. “Not a big rah-rah guy, just quietly confident.”
Cedar Park has good reason to be confident. The Timberwolves are 92-14 over the past seven-plus seasons and have developed a reputation as tough, defensive-minded team.
“It’s all the tradition, the culture surrounding our program,” said linebacker Keegan Nichols, a senior. “We have high expectations because of the classes that came before us.”
Nichols, who averages 8.2 tackles a game, recently was anointed the strongest player in team history after he lifted a combined 1,500 pounds in the squat, incline, bench and power clean.
Since Cedar Park opened the season with a surprising 35-28 loss to Waco Midway, the defense has become stingy. The T’wolves, led by Nichols and linebacker Jackson Buckingham, have yielded an average of six points in their past four games, punctuated by a 41-0 victory over Rouse on Sept. 29.
Sexton and Nichols said the goal is to add to Cedar Park’s state championships from 2012 and 2015. So the Timberwolves have their eyes set on the 5A, Division I title game Dec. 22 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
“Each class has the pride that they’re going to be the best ever to go through Cedar Park,” Sexton said.
At Cedar Park, winning a state title is a prerequisite to earning that distinction.