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Lake Travis passing game follows routes to success

Quarterback Charlie Brewer receives plenty of credit for guiding a Lake Travis team that averages almost 52 points a game. And why not? An SMU pledge, Brewer has put together a stellar senior season, throwing for 3,132 yards and 44 touchdowns while completing nearly 80 percent of his passes.

But as Brewer pointed out Wednesday morning, he’s had a little help. A spectacular receiving corps has been a big a reason that the Cavaliers have won 12 consecutive games and advanced to a Class 6A, Division I state-quarterfinal showdown Friday against district rival Westlake.

“If you try to stop one of those guys then someone else will step up,” said Brewer, who has thrown only one interception this fall. “We have so much talent (at receiver), and we have so much leadership there, too. It’s a special group of guys.”

College recruiters agree with Brewer. Four of the five leading receivers for Lake Travis — Cade Brewer (SMU), Cade Green (Wisconsin), Mac Humble (Penn) and Maleek Barkley (Arkansas) — have pledged to play college football in 2017. The fifth receiver, Garrett Wilson, is a sophomore who already displays the play-making ability that impresses college recruiters and frustrates defensive backs.

“Our skill players and Charlie make plays in the passing game,” said Cavaliers coach Hank Carter, “and when we make plays downfield, we’re tough to beat.

No Lake Travis receiver has more than Cade Brewer’s 45 catches or Green’s 773 yards, but no offense in the Austin area has produced more through the air in 2016.

“We’ve never had a collection of offensive skill guys as talented and mature as we have now,” Carter said. “They’re playing as good as any group we’ve ever had.”

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Cade Brewer does a little bit of everything and still has the speed to race down the seam. Green and Wilson excel as deep-ball threats while Humble is “Mr. Reliable,” according to Charlie Brewer.

Barkley may be the most versatile option in the group. After Lake Travis lost starting running back Santiago Villegas before the season due to an immigration issue, the Cavaliers turned to Barkley in the backfield, and he has responded with 1,173 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.

Put it together, Cade Brewer said, and the Cavaliers can decimate any defensive game plan.

“If you want to double-cover me, for example, someone else will get open,” he said. “As long as we’re winning and moving the ball, I don’t care how many catches I get. I think we’d all say that.”

Personal stats don’t motivate this senior-heavy group that desperately wants to add a sixth star — signifying six state championships in football — to the Cavaliers logo. While Lake Travis won a state-record five straight state titles in Class 4A from 2007-11, the Cavaliers continue to seek their first championship in Class 6A, which they joined in 2012.

Last season, Lake Travis lost to Katy 34-7 in the Class 6A, Division II final. The Cavaliers’ defeat came a few hours after Westlake lost to Galena Park North Shore 21-14 in overtime in the 6A, Division I title game.

“All of us seniors realize how close we are to the end,” Humble said. “We want to show Garrett and the other young guys what it takes to win state.”

In Westlake, Lake Travis faces a team desperate to avenge a 49-7 loss to the Cavaliers on Oct. 7, the ninth straight win for Lake Travis in this 11-game series that dates to 2006. The Cavaliers piled up 412 yards in the teams’ first meeting, but Carter and his players expect a tougher tussle Friday night.

“The biggest challenge that Westlake brings defensively is that they pressure a lot,” the coach said. “I was happy with how we handled it the first time, but that being said, we have to do it again. I’m sure they’ll have some tricks up their sleeve.”

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