Foster Falcons (8-2) vs. Cedar Park Timberwovles (10-0)
Thursday, December 17, 2020 — 7:30 p.m. — Waller ISD Stadium
The Foster High School football team is no stranger to playoff football.
The Falcons have seen it all and have been as close as a game away from the state championship under head coach Shaun McDowell.
One of the Falcons’ best skills has been picking up wins over state-ranked teams in the playoffs.
Foster has beat Dripping Springs, Hutto and New Caney in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Now, the Falcons set their sights on four wins in four years on Thursday against Cedar Park at Waller ISD Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
“Our preparations have been good this week,” McDowell said. “They’ve been energized; I think they are excited to play a very good opponent like Cedar Park.”
The Timberwolves are the highest-ranked opponent Foster has faced this early in the playoffs, with Cedar Park at No. 4 overall in the Class 5A Division I rankings.
Cedar Park is ranked behind only Denton Ryan (10-0), Highland Park (9-0) and Lancaster (10-0).
The Timberwolves’ ranking is justified after a strong season on both sides of the ball for Cedar Park.
Head coach Carl Abseck’s squad has won by an average margin of 38 points in 2020. That average includes Cedar Park’s 72-20 win over San Antonio Veterans Memorial last week in the bi-district playoffs.
“I really like what they do offensively,” McDowell said. “They have a really special quarterback; he reminds me of (Foster’s quarterback the past two years) Ryan Stubblefield, the way he can throw it around and run the ball really well.
“He does a great job of managing the game and being explosive.”
Senior Ryder Hernandez makes the Timberwolves go at quarterback. The signal-caller was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Mr. Texas Football award.
Hernandez has thrown for 2685 yards and 39 touchdowns with zero interceptions in 10 games. In the game against Veterans Memorial, Hernandez was 20-of-28 for 249 yards and five touchdowns; he has thrown for less than four touchdowns in only one game this season against 6A Austin Vandegrift.
The Cedar Park quarterback is not a threat to run; he has 159 yards total rushing this season on 27 carries.
Senior Cade Haught is the name to know at running back for Cedar Park, he ran for 130 yards, and a touchdown on 10 carries last week.
Cedar Park doesn’t have a rusher over 500 yards and two over 400 this season; the other rusher is junior Kevin Adams, who didn’t record a rushing yard in the bi-district round.
Hernandez spreads the ball around between three senior receivers Gunnar Abseck, Jack Hestera and Josh Cameron.
All three have over 30 receptions, with Abaseck leading the way with 51 for 708 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hestera has 31 catches for 626 yards and 11 touchdowns.
On defense, senior Shelby Battles is the man in the middle of the action for Cedar Park. The linebacker has a team-high 95 tackles, including 68 solo efforts; he also had five sacks.
Junior Ian Ferguson and senior Hunter Hewitt have combined for 15 sacks for Cedar Park.
On top of the Cedar Park challenge, it is finals week in LCISD. Falcons players have had to balance their schedules while completing tests on game day and early in the morning the following day.
“There is some academic pressure this week,” McDowell said. “Most of our team is older, so most of them are exempt from finals.
“You would think it would be a little more stressful during finals week, but for some reason, it’s been less stressful.”