JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — With the toughest part of their football schedule behind them, the Faith Academy Flames are poised to win their first game of the season.
That’s the word from first-year head coach Randy Denton as he prepares his players to welcome San Antonio St. Anthony at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 to Pony Stadium, 1511 Pony Circle Drive in Marble Falls.
“We’ve gone through the gauntlet of our first three games,” he said. “We knew they were going to be good opponents. We feel like we match up a little bit better from here on out throughout the rest of the season.”
St. Anthony had wins against San Antonio Cole (42-0) on Sept. 9 and San Antonio TMI (17-14) to open the season but lost 21-0 last week to Austin Hyde Park.
St. Anthony’s offense is led by a couple of juniors. Running back Olan Vining has 48 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Jay Ortiz has completed 16 passes for 138 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He also has 20 rushes for 60 yards. Senior receiver Jordan Torrens has six receptions for 86 yards.
While the Yellow Jackets (2-1) will line up in spread formations, Denton said that’s simply to spread out the defense in order to set up the ground attack in the middle.
“I think we have a pretty good handle (on that) this week,” he said. “They want to spread us out and try to run the ball inside the tackles, so we’ve really been focused on our interior line play this week.”
In three games, Faith has scored a total of 14 points. Denton said he is emphasizing improved play.
“This is the week our offense needs to break out,” he said. “We match up well. Everything is lining up right for us. We expect to go out and have a good day offensively.”
Senior running backs Jonathan Reyes and Asa Ortiz are averaging four yards a carry for the Flames, while senior quarterback Rich Coleman is averaging 3.4 yards rushing and sophomore running back Jared Gastineau is averaging 2.9 yards.
Still, the Flames are looking for better play from the offensive line. The coach said those players have the right frame, weight and height to play the position. Chemistry, however, is still being developed with some players who are new to the program, new to their positions or new to the sport.
“Our technique and our understanding of the offense and what we’re trying to do is just now getting there,” he said. “And we’re seeing the strides every day in practice. I really expect this week and into district that that front five of our offense becomes dominant for us.”
It’s said that once an offensive line is gelling, coaches don’t want to rotate them out, which is the same thinking for the quarterback. However, running backs, receivers and even tight ends will leave the playing field to get a breather, to let someone else log some minutes or because of specific packages.
And that’s part of what makes developing linemen a challenge, Denton said.
“You want that continuity upfront,” he said. “The guys have to work together to make line calls. You have to get subs in. If you got guys who are not sure, one mistake can can cause a lot of problems for you. So yeah, it’s important that our guys play together pretty much every snap except for when we purposely put subs in, and because of that fact, they’re getting better as a unit, not only individually but as a unit.
“It’s something you just have to build through time,” he added. “The linemen, their size can be born, but their footwork and their technique has to be built. It’s not a one-day thing, it’s something that you just have to do reps and reps and reps, so they learn and understand what they’re supposed to do when they get in the battle.”
This contest is the Flames’ last before starting Division III District 3 play in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, so getting a victory would mean a lot, Denton said.
“We would love to go into district on a win,” he said. “We know who we play. We’re not going to see anybody like at least two out of the last three games we’ve played in pre-district for the rest of the year. We understand. We took our lumps. We expect to run the table from here on out.”