Marble Falls football focuses on snagging final playoff spot

[box]GAMETIME
Marble Falls Mustangs vs. Cedar Park Vista Ridge Rangers
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25
WHERE: Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls
TUNE IN: Listen to KBEY 103.9 FM, at KBEYFM.com or on Northland Channel 15 with pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. and live broadcast at 7 p.m.[/box]

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Few members of the Marble Falls High School football team could stop the raw emotion after losing 31-27 to Leander Vandegrift on Oct. 18.

But they put the loss behind them and began mentally preparing for Cedar Park Vista Ridge on Oct. 25 at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“They’re very disappointed young men, and rightfully so,” head coach Todd Dodge said. “(The loss to Vandegrift) will not cause another. We have three weeks left. Basically, the playoffs start (this) week.”

“We’re disappointed,” senior receiver Garrett Gray said. “We have three more games to play. We can win them all. We can’t pout over this one. It’s over.”

Just as the Mustangs (2-5, 0-3), the Rangers (4-3, 1-2) enter the contest on a loss. Vista Ridge fell to Leander 36-21 on Oct. 18.

The game is a must-win contest for both Marble Falls and Vista Ridge to keep their playoff hopes alive. But that’s not all the two teams have in common.

Both squads start sophomores at quarterback. Rangers quarterback Matthew Snow has completed 27 of 61 passes for four touchdowns and six interceptions and ran 86 times for 333 yards and two touchdowns.

The Rangers are led by senior running back Stedman Mayberry, who has 76 rushes for 448 yards and five touchdowns and has nine receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown.

And just like other Cedar Park-based teams, Vista Ridge likes to control the clock by using a power run offense with the only exception being that the running back, not the quarterback, is the center of the offensive scheme. The Rangers average 26 points a game and allow 19 points a contest.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs are looking to end a four-game losing streak with the aim of being more offensive in the second half.

In the loss to Vandegrift, Marble Falls was scoreless for almost 21 minutes of the second half.

Dodge said the Mustangs defense the past two games has held opponents to scoring totals that give his squad a chance at winning. But he also credits the opponents’ defense for making plays down the stretch to preserve a win, such as Leander Rouse, or coming back for the victory, such as Vandegrift.

The Mustangs had a 27-24 lead with 3 minutes 32 seconds left in the game. The Marble Falls defense had been protecting the lead for about 15 minutes, forcing the Vipers into two punts.

But Vandegrift went back to its basic offensive approach, which was power football. By the time junior quarterback Jamie Hudson scored from the Mustangs’ two-yard line on third down, the Vipers had covered 74 yards on 12 plays that chewed up 2:44.

On the flip side, the Vipers defense kept the Mustangs out of the end zone for most of the final two quarters.

“We needed another score, and we could not get it,” Dodge said. “We probably ran out of steam a little bit. That’s a lot to ask the defense to do.”

For the season, sophomore quarterback Brennen Wooten has completed 161 passes for 2,095 yards and 23 touchdowns. Senior running back Keith Jerome has 109 carries for 683 yards and 10 touchdowns, and senior receiver Garrett Gray has caught 48 passes for 833 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Dodge said players and coaches are aware of the task in front of them: winning the final three contests to get into the postseason.

“It’s a three-week playoff to see who gets the last spot (from District 25-4A),” he said. “We have to go out and win every game.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com