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Faith Academy prepares for physical match against Austin Eastside Memorial

Faith Academy offensive lineman Mitch Earwood (No. 50) leads the way for running back Jacob Metcalf (No. 2) during the Flames' 47-35 win against the St. Anthony Yellow Jackets of San Antonio on Sept. 6. The Flames host the Austin Eastside Memorial Panthers at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Marble Falls Middle School Pony Stadium, 1511 Pony Circle. Courtesy photo by Paloma Ortiz

[box]GAMETIME
Faith Academy Flames vs. Austin Eastside Memorial Panthers
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13
WHERE: Pony Stadium at Marble Falls Middle School, 1511 Pony Circle in Marble Falls[/box]

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Faith Academy football coach Russ Roberts can pinpoint the game during which his players became an 11-man football team in 2012.It was in the 36-20 victory against Austin Eastside Memorial in Week 2. Until 2012, the Flames competed in the six-man version of the sport.

Fast forward to 2013. Roberts said this year’s players became a team during the 47-35 victory against St. Anthony of San Antonio on Sept. 6 en route to Faith’s 12th-consecutive regular season victory. The winning streak started against St. Anthony in the 2012 season opener.

Now, the Flames (2-0) have to understand every opponent puts a target on them, for several reasons, Roberts said.

“Everybody wants revenge, everybody wants to break the streak,” he said. “We know we’re going to get everybody’s best effort all year. We have to be ready for it.”

Enter Eastside Memorial (0-2) this week, a team that scored its first points of the season against John Paul II in a 38-12 loss Sept. 6. The Panthers visit the Flames at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Pony Stadium on the Marble Falls Middle School campus, 1511 Pony Circle.

The Panthers have a total of 150 offensive yards. Quarterback Lides Avelar, who has completed 11 passes for 50 yards, leads Eastside Memorial. McKenzie Gil-Cuesta is the team’s top running back with 13 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Eastside Memorial has struggled in the sport so much that the Panthers played an independent schedule last season. That means that even though they’re a member of District 26-4A of the University Interscholastic League, the varsity played subvarsity squads instead of other division varsity opponents.

And it worked last season, too. Eastside Memorial finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak en route to a 6-3 record. That changes this season. The Panthers are playing their first varsity schedule since 2010.

What Roberts remembers about last season’s contest against Eastside Memorial wasn’t the score; it was the way the Panthers fought and forced more out of the Flames than what they gave in the first game of 11-man football.

“It was one of the most physical games we played all season,” Roberts said. “They had an answer for everything we tried to do.

“We had to rise up and play,” he added. “That’s how we became a team.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com