Parodi’s picks helped pick up Lake Travis defense this season

Most championship-caliber football teams share a common trait: They rarely suffer turnovers, but when they do, they manage to force more by their opponents than they suffer.

Both Lake Travis and Allen — teams that will face off Saturday for the Class 6A, Division I championship — live by that formula.

Last week, the Cavaliers took advantage of three Katy turnovers to record a 28-14 victory in a state semifinal. The Eagles, meanwhile, took the football away from Cedar Ridge five times in their 28-7 win this past Saturday. More important, neither Lake Travis nor Allen turned the ball in their recent victories. In fact, the Eagles’ offense hasn’t suffered a turnover since the fifth week of the 2017 season. A muffed punt against Cedar Ridge became Allen’s first turnover since Oct. 5.

“They don’t turn the ball over much and they are very talented,” Lake Travis coach Hank Carter said of the unbeaten Eagles, the top-ranked team in Class 6A at the end of the regular season.

Finding a way to get the ball away from Allen’s offense, which features a handful of FBS signees or prospects who include quarterback Grant Tisdale, receivers Theo Wease and Carson Schleker and running back Brock Sturges, will be critical if the Cavaliers hope to defend their 6A, Division I state title. Last season, the Cavaliers forced two turnovers in rolling past The Woodlands 41-13 in a state final.

The Cavaliers started slowly on defense this season, allowing 76 total points in splitting their first two games, but they have become more and more opportunistic as the season has progressed. In five playoff games, Lake Travis has forced 11 turnovers, including seven interceptions. The Cavaliers are plus-nine in turnover ratio this fall; the Eagles are plus-10.

Senior safety Nathan Parodi tops Lake Travis with four postseason interceptions, and his seven picks total have tied the school’s single-season mark.

“We just have to be in the right spot at the right time,” said Parodi, who also returns punts. “A little luck, a little skill and a little execution all come into play. If we are where we are supposed to be, maybe we make something happen.”

Parodi’s frequently been in the right spot. His interception sealed a 34-31 victory over Cibolo Steele in the second game of the season. Two other picks prevented touchdowns, one against Westlake and another against San Antonio O’Connor in a state quarterfinal. And two of his interceptions were acrobatic grabs of tipped passes.

“It’s partially luck, partially focus,” Parodi said after his tip-drill interception against Converse Judson in an area-round playoff. “I guess the pieces fall together in the correct order, and you can come down with it.”

Carter said Parodi’s consistent play throughout the season has helped spur the Cavaliers’ improvement on defense. In four of their five postseason victories, they allowed 17 points or fewer.

“Nathan makes play after play after play,” Carter said. “He’s been our steady Eddie. I was a little shocked that he didn’t get an interception in the last game because it seems like he gets one every game.”

Even without an interception by Parodi, who saw his streak of five straight games with a pick come to an end, the Cavaliers kept their turnover streak alive. Reid Bacon and Kade Langston each recovered fumbles against Katy, and Ty Badciong intercepted the Tigers’ final pass.

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