Lampasas has been in the spotlight all season, but it has never performed on such a grand stage.
After opening the season in the state rankings and residing there almost all year, the Class 4A-Division I No. 6 Badgers are thriving in the limelight, winning nine consecutive games, including a one-sided outing in the area round Friday.
Lampasas was never challenged en route to a 56-6 victory against Gonzales to set up a Region IV semifinal showdown against Needville.
To continue their postseason run, however, the Badgers must perform on a platform like nothing the program has ever seen Saturday, when they kickoff inside San Antonio’s Alamodome at noon.
While the goal was never to play at the mammoth stadium, Lampasas receiver Jaylon Porter cannot help but confess his enthusiasm for the opportunity.
“It’s exciting,” the senior said, “I’m not going to lie. It’s a big deal to get to play in the Alamodome, but our coaches keep talking about avoiding distractions.
“When we get there, I’m sure it will be a ‘wow’ moment, but we’re not going to let it affect our game, and we’re going to stay focused on what we need to do.”
Execution was not an issue against the Apaches, especially early.
With quarterback Ace Whitehead engineering the offense, Lampasas was virtually flawless in the first half. The junior completed 15 of 18 passes for 199 yards, and the team averaged 5.4 yards per carry on 19 rushes, helping the Badgers explode for 28 points in the second quarter.
Defensively, Lampasas (11-1) held Gonzales to a mere 26 yards before halftime, forcing four punts and picking off a pass to round out a 35-0 showing.
“That was probably one of our best first halves of football all year,” said Whitehead, who accounted for four total touchdowns, including three passing, before halftime. “We came out prepared, we knew it, and we executed.”
Now, the Badgers aim to repeat the feat regardless of where they play.
“The first thing I’m going to tell the kids is that the Alamodome has the same size field as what we have in Lampasas,” Badgers head coach Troy Rogers said. “Just because there is a roof over it doesn’t change anything.
“But I really wanted to play there, because I wanted that opportunity for the kids. No Lampasas team has ever played in a dome stadium before, so that’s what this is about — giving those kids something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”
Of course, the moment will be even sweeter if the Badgers advance.
The District 13-4A champion Bluejays bring in an overall record of 10-2 after defeating Boerne 62-24 in the area round for their eighth victory in the last nine games.
With the spotlight shining on Lampasas’ biggest game since reaching the state quarterfinals in 1993, the Badgers intend to deliver inside the Alamodome.
“We know Needville is a good, fast team,” Whitehead said, “so it should be a good matchup, and I know it will be an exciting atmosphere. Playing in the Alamodome is going to be awesome, but we just can’t let it be a distraction.
“I’d still rather be playing at Badger Stadium, but that’s just me.”
LAMPASAS 56, GONZALES 6
Gonzales 0 0 6 0 – 6
Lampasas 7 28 7 14–56
Lam—Michael Murray Jr. 26 pass from Ace Whitehead (Whitehead kick), 9:03.
Lam—Murray 28 pass from Whitehead (Whitehead kick), 11:55.
Lam—Daunte Cuffie 4 run (Whitehead kick), 4:02.
Lam—Whitehead 8 run (Whitehead kick), 1:47.
Lam—Jaylon Porter 41 pass from Whitehead (Whitehead kick), 0:54.
Lam—Whitehead 45 run (Whitehead kick), 7:02.
Gon—Heath Henke 1 run (pass failed), 2:39.
Lam—Jack Jerome 54 run (Whitehead kick), 10:30.
Lam—Porter 16 pass from Whitehead (Whitehead kick), 8:58.
First Downs 7 20
Rushes-Yards 39-107 32-240
Passing Yards 51 215
Comp-Att-Int 3-8-2 16-21-215
Punts-Avg. 6-26.2 2-43.5
Return Yards 49 14
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 2-20 4-35
RUSHING—Gonzales,– Diego Diaz De Leon 8-68, Dillen Ramos 9-21, Arbreyon Dore 5-10, Cesar Matamoros 5-7, Henke 11-1, Brett Breitschopf 1-0. Lampasas, Jerome 11-98, Whitehead 6-74, Cuffie 7-38, Peyton Underwood 3-15, Cameron Everts 1-11, Kyle Billings 3-2, Brenton Webb 1-2.
PASSING—Gonzales, Henke 3-8-2-51. Lampasas, Whitehead 16-20-0-215, Murray 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—Gonzales, Dora 3-51. Lampasas, Everts 7-80, Murray 4-67, Porter 3-65, Webb 2-3.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.