Faith Academy football playing home-field advantage

The Faith Academy defense, led by Austin Ellis (13), Jonathan Bryer (44) and Dalton Mayberry (21), rush the Wolfpack offensive line during the Flames' 31-0 victory against San Antonio Hawkins on Oct. 24. Photo by Paloma Ortiz

[box]GAMETIME
Faith Academy Flames vs. Temple Central Texas Christian
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1
WHERE: Pony Stadium, 1511 Pony Circle Drive in Marble Falls.[/box]

JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — The Faith Academy football team has to win one more game to complete an undefeated regular season.

And it couldn’t be any bigger as the Flames (9-0, 2-0 in Division III District 3 of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) welcome Temple Central Texas Christian on Nov. 1.

Faith and CTC (4-4, 2-0) are both undefeated in district play and have secured playoff berths.

The winner of this contest will be the district champion and will host a first-round playoff game.

“It’s what we live for,” Flames head coach Russ Roberts said. “The most disappointing thing about high school football is not to finish the year this way. The percentages say most high school teams will not finish in a game that counts.”

After the Flames shut out San Antonio Hawkins 31-0 on Oct. 24, Roberts said Faith Administrator Mark Earwood met the team for a post-game meal. Earwood said he believes CTC can be viewed as a rivalry dating back to when the two squads faced each other on the 6-man field.

“If we have a rivalry, it’s probably CTC,” Roberts said. “It’s why you work out in the 100-degree heat in August and you do all the extra things, like 7-on-7 and lift weights. This is what it’s all about.”

CTC went through a transition at the beginning of the season when some of its players didn’t return to the program, Roberts said.

That might explain why the Lions started the season by losing four of their first five contests, he said. But now, they are on a three-game winning streak.

And Roberts isn’t surprised by the turnaround, he said, because of the deep respect he has for CTC head coach Joe Oliver. The two have been in education about the same number of years. But Oliver eventually worked his way up to superintendent before he decided to return to coaching, the Roberts said.

“He’s extremely knowledgeable,” he said. “He makes me nervous. I can’t fool him. He’s very experienced. He’s seen it all, I know that.”

Roberts was unsure if the Lions are as good this year as they were last year. But he believes he has an improved squad in 2013 from last year’s inaugural 11-man team.

He gave his players the day off Oct. 25, a day after their ninth consecutive victory. He realized he broke up the routine but noted it had already been broken with a rare Thursday night game.

“I’m going to be interested to see if all the kids come back stronger,” he said.

And he said he’s excited about hosting this district championship game at Pony Stadium, 1511 Pony Circle Drive, knowing the winner gets the hardware and doesn’t have to travel in the first round of the playoffs.

“I think home-field advantage is there,” he said. “I think that’s a great motivator.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com