Round Rock’s motto since day one of this football season has been “Think December.”
All that thinking must have paid off.
This Saturday, the Dragons (10-3) will head to Baylor’s McLane Stadium to take on The Woodlands (13-0) in a Class 6A, Division I state quarterfinal. Round Rock is one of just three Austin-area teams still alive in the Class 6A playoffs, joining Lake Travis and Westlake.
“We have been put through the ringer,” said Brian Bolger, a senior defensive back for the Dragons. “We truly understand how much this game means to us.”
In Waco, Bolger and the rest of the Round Rock secondary, including fellow senior Brandon Pflueger, will be tested by a potent Highlanders offense. Led by senior quarterback Eric Schmid, a Sam Houston State pledge, The Woodlands has scored 40 or more points in 10 straight games. Last week, Schmid racked up 397 total yards and five touchdowns in a 52-31 victory over Bowie.
Overall, the Highlanders have outscored their opponents by a combined 608-204.
With that telling stat in mind, Pflueger has been putting in extra hours in the film room, making sure he’s prepared for an offense he believes is the most dangerous the Dragons’ have faced since Cedar Ridge on Oct. 14. Like The Woodlands, Cedar Ridge was led by a dynamic quarterback in Garrett Sharp.
Pflueger thinks the 51-43 loss to Cedar Ridge in the regular season has helped the Dragons “learn from their mistakes.”
“I have been doing a lot of extra studying on Eric Schmid,” he said. “We’ve put together a solid game plan that comes from noticing tendencies. We also want to take away things in their offense that they like to do, forcing them to be uncomfortable.”
“We respect Schmid as an all-around player, and the Woodlands as a whole,” he said.
But Bolger pointed out that the Dragons are pretty good, too.
“We feel we just have to be who we are,” he said. “We believe in the system that has gotten us this far and don’t think we really have to change too much.”
Pflueger, Bolger and the rest of the Dragons’ secondary will undoubtedly have their hands full trying to slow down a Highlanders’ offense that is averaging 47 points a game.
Pflueger and Bolger — the leaders of Round Rock’s passing defense — have combined for 10 interceptions, with Bolger returning three of those for touchdowns. Pflueger has tallied 147 tackles to lead Round Rock.
It’s an unmatched chemistry, according to Bolger, that has been developed since the two were freshmen.
“We both take our roles as team and unit leaders very seriously,” said Bolger. “We see it as an opportunity that is not given but rather earned by the rest of our teammates.”
Should the Dragons defeat The Woodlands on Saturday, Pflueger and Bolger will lead Round Rock into the Class 6A, Division I semifinals and one game away from playing for a state championship.
CLASS 6A, DIVISION I STATE QUARTERFINAL
Round Rock (10-3) vs. The Woodlands (13-0)
2 p.m. Saturday (McLane Stadium, Waco)