STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team is starting a pivotal stretch in its season.
The Mustangs (2-3, 0-2 District 26-5A) will travel to Boerne Champion (2-3, 1-1) on Friday, Oct. 13. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Boerne ISD Stadium, 1 Greyhound Drive in Boerne. Catch the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com beginning with the Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup at 6:30 p.m.
Marble Falls hopes to snap a two-game losing streak, while the Chargers are looking to start a winning streak.
The Mustangs lost 42-14 to San Antonio Alamo Heights and 50-30 to Castroville Medina Valley to begin district play. The Chargers fell to Medina Valley 21-14 but crushed Lockhart 42-14.
Both coaches noted the importance of this game.
“It’ll be a dogfight,” Mustangs interim head coach Mike Birdwell said. “We’ll have to have excellent fundamentals and execute at a high level. We’ll have to play our very best versus a very good Charger team.”
“Each game is of the utmost importance,” Chargers head coach Keith Kaiser said. “Everybody is trying to be 1-and-0 each week, which means it’s the most important game.”
Though Champion lost 31 players to graduation, it returns 31 from last year’s team that won a share of the district crown.
Champion is led by all-district senior quarterback Davis Brin, who has completed 76 of 134 passes for 886 yards, 11 touchdowns, and six interceptions and has 20 carries for 97 yards.
“He slings the ball all over,” Birdwell said, “and he’s a good runner.
Kaiser noted most of the plays have run-pass options for Brin and allow him to either throw the ball or run.
“Davis is a tremendous young man,” he said. “We put a lot on his plate. He had to get the timing down with the new receivers. (Early in the year), he forced some things or put a lot on himself.”
Kaiser said it was more than getting the timing between the receivers and the quarterback down; it was about the two positions reading the same things on each play. When Davis saw man coverage, the receivers might have read zone. So Davis threw believing the receivers saw the same thing and both were surprised when the ball went incomplete.
“Our receivers have to be comfortable with the routes,” Kaiser said. “They have to recognize the coverages and find the holes and the gaps. Our receivers early on, all they thought about was the route. The only way to fix it is game reps.”
The Chargers top receivers are all juniors: Konner Beavers has 30 catches for 335 yards and three touchdowns, while Chase Locke has 24 receptions for 289 yards and four touchdowns, and Austin Jones has 10 receptions for 166 yards and one touchdown.
Kaiser noted the coaching staff realized weeks ago that Brin would need time to build rapport with his new receivers. And those receivers, most of whom played on the Charger junior varsity that went 9-1 in 2016, had to get used to the bright Friday night lights. Five games later, coaches are seeing their patience pay off.
“We felt like it wasn’t going to be until week five or six to know what kind of team we’re going to have,” he said. “We felt like the talent was always there.”
Senior running back Nick De Los Santos has 32 carries for 210 yards and three touchdowns.
Still, Birdwell noted the Mustangs have played well against spread offenses.
“Our kids will be geared up and fired up,” he said. “It’s not new, and it comes down to execution. We want our kids to play physical and fast.”
Defensively, Champion uses a 3-4 base but will sometimes slide a linebacker to the line. The Chargers have quickness and are strong. The top players are sophomore defensive lineman Sam Barnett and senior defensive lineman Taylor Posey.
Birdwell said he’s pleased with the Mustangs’ offensive line, which had the bye week to gel since it has been ravaged with injuries.
“We really feel like the kids are honed in,” he said.
Both teams enjoyed a district-wide bye last week. The Mustangs had three practices with full pads for two of them.
Birdwell was pleased with the practices, noting they spent extra time on special teams and other fundamentals.
“Champion is a team that plays hard and physical,” Birdwell said. “We want to match their physicality and make certain calls on offense and defense and execute at a high level.”