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BATTLE OF BURNET COUNTY: Marble Falls fans recall ups, downs of longtime series

The Marble Falls Mustangs travel to Burnet on Sept. 13 for the annual cross-county rivalry football game against the Bulldogs. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Photo by Virgil Belk/Hill Country Sports Images

[box]GAMETIME
Burnet Bulldogs vs. Marble Falls Mustangs
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13
WHERE: Bulldog Field, 1001 The Green Mile in Burnet
TUNE IN: KBEY 103.9 FM’s pregame show is 6:30 p.m. on the dial or online at KBEYFM.com. Or watch it on Northland Channel 15. Live broadcast starts at 7 p.m.[/box]

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — When Marble Falls High School students arrived on campus before the 1979 game against the Burnet Bulldogs, they were greeted by a horse’s head on the flag pole.

“It was painted green,” said Joe Don Dockery, class of 1981.Former Mustangs coach George Nelson, an alumnus of the school himself, told his players to grab their helmets and peel off the purple running Mustangs on each side.

Before the game, Dockery said he and his teammates were given new decals for their helmets.

“It was a green horse’s head,” he said. “I get chills just talking about it.”

Marble Falls won the game 10-0.

So goes the rivalry between the only two public high schools in Burnet County.

“It was certainly a motivator,” said Craig Mabry, class of 1982. “It’s no different today. There’s always a lot of excitement around that game.”

Mabry was a member of the junior varsity team that lost to Burnet in 1979. And though he was a part of the squads that won in 1980 and 1981, he has more vivid memories of the loss.

Of all the recent games played between the Marble Falls and the Burnet football teams, two exemplify the depth, challenge and passion each squad brings out from the opponent.

And both were played in Marble Falls.

In 2008, the final year Marble Falls played in the old Mustang Stadium, which is now Pony Stadium at Marble Falls Middle School, Thor Woerner led the Mustangs to a 40-30 victory on the field named after his grandfather, Roy, when he played for his father, former head coach Cord Woerner.

After the contest, the Woerners embraced as Mustang fans ran on the field in celebration. The victory ended a four-game losing streak to the Bulldogs.

“There were a lot of feelings going into that night,” Thor Woerner said. “It’s still the game of football. There’s a lot of stuff you have to focus on and prepare for, especially against a good team.”

As the quarterback, Woerner rushed for more than 120 yards and helped the Mustangs record more than 400 yards of total offense in that game. At linebacker, the younger Woerner nabbed three interceptions and had a fumble recovery.

In addition to closing the old stadium on a positive note that year, the win also eased a painful loss to Burnet in the previous season, Woerner said, when the Bulldogs crushed Marble Falls 28-0 in their last year in Class 4A. Burnet finished third in district and snagged the final playoff spot.

“Any loss is hard,” he said. “(The win) helps. It’s up there in the top five.”

Two years later in 2010, the Bulldogs returned to Marble Falls to face the Mustangs in their new stadium at 2101 Mustang Drive. Marble Falls was heavily favored, and few people believed Burnet had a chance at an upset.

But that’s why the game is played. In dramatic fashion, behind a defense that didn’t allow Marble Falls to get comfortable, Burnet won 16-7.

“That’s what it was — miserable,” said former receiver David Morgan. “They played well. It was heartbreaking.”

Morgan, class of 2011, remembered he had more than 400 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in wins against San Marcos, 42-0, and Medina Valley, 41-21. But against the Bulldogs, he only had 60 yards.

“They definitely watched film and adjusted accordingly,” Morgan said. “They shut me down. It was one of my lowest totals of the year.”

The Bulldogs also won the third phase of the game: special teams. Burnet pinned Marble Falls deep in its own territory, Morgan said, while the Burnet offense began its series closer to midfield.

As an elected captain and team leader, Morgan said he felt a responsibility to play his best and do what was necessary to earn the win.

But the loss also helped, the receiver said, because it forced the team to re-evaluate what it was doing. Instead of constantly lining up at wide receiver, Morgan said he went to slot receiver for some plays. Late in games for the rest of the season, the Mustangs used their power running game behind an experienced group of linemen to wear out the defense.

Morgan is now a tight end at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He said he loved playing high school football and credits his coaches and teammates for helping him move on to the next level

“It was a big part of my life,” he said. “I’m over that loss, but I definitely wish it could have been different.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com