AUSTIN, Texas — For the 12th consecutive season, rivals Cedar Park and Vandegrift will meet during the regular season 7 p.m. Friday at Monroe Memorial Stadium.
This matchup marks KVUE's Friday Football Fever week one Game of the Week, so here's what some of the players and coaches had to say this week leading up to the big game.
Vandegrift Football Said It...
Clayton Moore - Senior cornerback
- On Cedar Park rivalry: "There's nothing like it. I remember last year, big game, we went over to Gupton, we were ready to go in their house, we were prepared for it. Now we've just been counting down the days for them to come here and defend our turf, so we're having a lot of fun out here in practice, and we're ready for it."
- More on Cedar Park rivalry: "Well, we always love to defend our turf. Comfort level? We're confident. I don't know if we're comfortable, but we're definitely confident here at Venom Field. We're ready for them. Coming off a loss last year at their place, we have some redemption for them coming over here. We've always have had a great record here at home, and we're just ready for them."
- On Cedar Park rivalry fans: "Hopefully we have a great crowd. I know there always is going to be one. The atmosphere is nothing like it. Big rivalry game against Cedar Park. Lining up against them is going to be really fun."
- On Cedar Park game plan: "Defense wins championships. They have a great quarterback, some great receivers, a big old running back. We have to plan for them coming out and be ready to stop them. We have a nice game and ready to put it into play."
- On excitement for season: "Last season ended around January, so whenever that ended, after our Hays game, we've been counting down the days til Cedar Park."
- On how last season ended: "Definitely a sour taste, like you said. I think a big part was coming back, coming back stronger, getting big in the weight room and coming back with a game plan, attacking them, being physical. We have a little chip on our shoulder after last year and after the long playoff run ready to run it back."
Jaxon Oliver - Senior cornerback
- On Cedar Park rivalry: "I think it's really fun. Cedar Park has always been a big rival for us. It really sets the tone for the season. Lots of energy in the stands and everything whenever we come out here, and I don't think you could ask for a better way to start the season off."
- On excitement for season: "Instantly, whenever last season ended. Coming back in the offseason, boot camps, spring ball, we've been preparing this whole time, so we've been waiting this whole time and working hard. We've been looking forward to it."
- On pride in defense: "I take a lot of pride into it. I got switched to defense a couple years ago, so I've been welcomed into the family, and defense wins championships, like Clayton said, I mean it comes down to that at the end of the game and how we perform."
- On changes this year: "Don't make any mistakes like we did last year, focus up, do everything right, stick together as a team, and play with our heads high. Don't get down on each other or anything like that and I think we'll be good."
- On team this year: "I think we're all looking sharp. I think the offense is looking really good this season. A bunch of upgrades from last season, and the defense is looking as good as ever, D-Line, DBs, everything."
Juan Gutierrez - Senior offensive lineman
- On excitement for season: "I'm really excited. I've been counting down the days. I wasn't really happy last year. I was on the defensive side of the ball and they put me on offense. We have a new offense coming in. Lot of new guys coming in, but we're going to pop a big bang on them."
- On changes this year: "I don't think it's replacement. Everybody is ready. We count on each other. We had a bunch of great seniors last year, Austin Skoglund, Ryan Back, all those great guys. But you know, the underclassmen, the sophomore and juniors from last year, we were ready. We practiced hard. The coaches prepared us, and we're ready to rock and roll."
- On Cedar Park rivalry: "Since 7th grade, man. We've always been talking about it. We've always dreamed about it. It's our crosstown rivals. It means a lot to us. We never lost to them until last year. It puts a real sour taste in our mouth, and we're ready to go."
- On importance of beating Cedar Park: "It's really important. It's my last time. It's the last time for everything for most of us, and we don't really like losing. We've been 18-1 on this field. I don't want to go 18-2."
- On winning it all this year: "We can't just get comfortable. After we lost to Cedar Park, we kicked it back up again in the regular season, then we lost against Round Rock, and we just got a little too comfortable. We're not going to be comfortable this year. We have a little chip on our shoulder and we're ready to go."
Head Coach Drew Sanders
- On Cedar Park rivalry: "Well, as long as I'm head coach here, we'll always make sure to have Cedar Park on our schedule. It is a rivalry game. I think maybe people around the state don't know about, but everybody in this area knows about both of our teams. So, it's something that's always going to happen. It's always an amazing game, and just recently last several years we were able to hold up our end of the bargain of a rivalry and start to beat them some. It's not really a rivalry if one person is beating the other team. Kind of did it early in our kind of growing up as a school. It's important to me. It's always going to be part of our pre-district schedule, and we're excited about getting the opportunity to go up against those guys."
- On what Cedar Park game will expose: "Cedar Park will expose some things, and I think that they'll probably think the same of us if you talk to Coach Q. We're going to make plays on them, they're going to make plays on us, after the game, win or lose, hopefully we can find a way to get one more point than them, but we're going to review the tape, and you're going to be like, 'This is what we have to work on and get ready for the games that really matter.' This game matters for sure, but it's nothing like a district game, and we have to be able to win all our district games to get in the playoffs to win a district title and to go far. And so all of this, it's why I schedule great people, because I want to be better and I want the things exposed before the games that really matter."
- On Cedar Park new head coach: "Yeah, it's way different. Cedar Park is always going to be good. They're going to hustle around and do things right, but right now, I don't know much about anything they're doing. So, they have our tape and we didn't change. And so, they probably know a lot about us. A lot more than we know about them, so it's going to be kind of some trial and error as the game goes on because we're trying to figure out what they're doing. So, that's maybe a little advantage to them early in the game, but eventually everybody will settle into what they like to do, and hopefully we can figure it out."
- On excitement for season: "Man, I'm always excited for the season. This is the highlight of my year. But, we do have a good group of young men who are energetic, enthusiastic about football and life in general. This is a great group of guys I don't have to beg to come to practice. They're always fun, and they also know when to work, so yeah, it excites me. But, we're already pretty dang excited about the season. Not just the Cedar Park game, which is going to be fun, but the whole season."
- Theme for this season: "Our whole theme this year is run it back, which means, 'Hey, let's do it again better' because we don't think we achieved our potential last year. So, there's nothing worse than feeling like you left some meat on the bone, and I feel like we did that last year. But, as a coach, one thing I've learned over the years, is to don't look too far ahead. So, right now we're just going to play Cedar Park, get better this week, and eliminate mistakes, and do the things we need to do, and then next week we will play whoever is on our schedule, but right now it's just Cedar Park, let's get ready for Friday night. I'm excited about the atmosphere and everything that's going to happen."
- On team this year: "We look on offense a little bit more big play oriented this year than maybe the last couple of years, so I'm excited to see if that will come to fruition in real games. Defensively, we have some new guys in the back end, so I want to see them be able to handle their new responsibilities. But, up front, it's still the same big, strong guys we've had always on the defensive line. We have an all-state returner in Tucker Harrison, we have a big SAM linebacker in Sterling Emerson who I think will handle the middle. So, I think they'll see real familiar Vandegrift defense, too, and so hopefully we can live up to that standard that last year's team and really a lot of our teams have set."
Cedar Park Football Said It...
Michael Quintero - First-Year Head Coach
- On coming back to Cedar Park: "Well, it was a surprise getting a phone call from the district and a having a chance and come be part of a great community. This was one of the places, if I ever came back to the Austin area, this is one of the places I'd want to be. Our families here in the Cedar Park community are great, the kids are great. The standard of competition is excellent here, and it's just a great place to raise a family."
- On big shoes to fill after last year: "Well, I mean obviously we have some shoes to fill on both sides of the ball, but the valuable thing about playing as deep as Cedar Park has the last few years is all these kids have had opportunities to play. You get extra practice time when you play deep in the playoffs, so it's one of those things where those guys had extra time to work on the things that they needed to work on, so that's invaluable man. That's really what you want as a coach and a program."
- On rivalry vs. Vandegrift: "You always love the rivalries in Texas High School football. The Vandegrift game, the Cedar Park game has always been a big hype game. The kids know each other, which makes it a little bit extra special. But it's also a great test for us because Coach Sanders and those guys over there do an unbelievable job with their kids, so this is a good test for us. It's going to be a good measuring stick where we're at and what we need to get better at and what we're doing well."
- On Vandegrift saying Cedar Park has advantage: "Maybe. I don't know. I'm sure they know a lot of what we do anyway. It's not the first time Drew [Sanders] and I have played against each other. Defensively they know what we do. But I don't think it's going to matter for his group. I think that they're going to be well-prepared. So, we're looking to see those guys at their best, so we need to be at our best for this to be a great game."
- On returning players from last year: "We have about four [returning] on each side of the ball. But we have a lot of guys who played important roles last year that got a lot of playing time, so these guys understand the big games, they've all been in them. Again, the leadership this group has, the leadership of the seniors has been unbelievable, so I think this group is confident, and I don't think they've taken a step back from just the inexperience on a varsity start. I think they're ready for the challenge."
Josh Pell - Senior quarterback
- On excitement for season: "Man, I'm super excited. We have two days until Vandegrift, and I'm just so excited to kick off our season. Week One is coming. This is what we've been working for. We've been grinding in the summer for. So, I'm just excited to get on the field for Week One, man."
- On beating Vandegrift: It would mean a lot. It'd be awesome, especially doing it in their home stadium this time. Taking it to them in their home place. So, it'd be awesome if we can get a win. I believe in us, and I think we're going to come out on top, so I'm excited."
- On rivalry with Vandegrift: "There's been a little bit back and forth, but we're pretty focused on the game, but I know me and my boys, this is a big game for us. This is a must-win game, so we're excited."
- On key graduation pieces after last year: "It looks good. We always reload. We don't rebuild. It's just next man up. I think we have a great team this year, and we can do some special things. Looking forward to it."
- On new head coach at Cedar Park: "It's been good. Coach Q. We all love him. He's come in and instantly took us all under his wing. He used to coach at Cedar Park, he was here during our state championship run, so he knows the system, the traditions. I like his energy. He just brings a lot to the table."
- On replacing key pieces: "I think our versatility. We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things and can go both ways and do things that maybe we didn't do last year that adds new elements to our offense and defense."
- 1:21 - On players to watch: "I would say our running back, Kevin Adams. His third year on varsity. He's going to be a big piece in our running game, but we have great running back depth with Tyree [Nicholson] and Gavin Mundell, too. And we also have a good receiver Houston out there in the slot and Nick Grullon, he was a state qualifier high jumper. He can jump crazy. He's long, so it's a blessing having him out there."
Catch KVUE's Friday Football Fever after the 10 p.m. newscast every Friday night during the season! For the latest scores and high school football updates, visit kvue.com/hss.
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