JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team enjoyed its first practice of fall training camp Aug. 1.
The reason for their enjoyment, according to new head coach Stephen Shipley, is because the Flames used their summer productively. Since they had been working out and lifting throughout the summer, the players didn’t feel the physical effects of the late afternoon heat.
“The kids bought in,” Shipley said. “I couldn’t imagine a better process. We got more accomplished than what I thought we would.”
Quarterback Braden McBryde was sharp in running the offense as he worked with the skill players on various options to the same formation.
When he wasn’t handing off the ball to running backs, he was spinning correctly and delivering the football accurately to receivers. Shipley said the quarterback spent time working with other quarterback coaches and worked closely with his own head coach to learn the offense and improve on the fundamentals of the position.
“Braden is leading the team,” Shipley said. “He knows the offense. I feel good when he’s back there. We’re thinking a lot alike.”
The other quarterback, Issac Oliver, also had a solid first day, the coach said, adding Oliver will give the Flames more options on plays.
“Issac is one of the smartest players on the team,” Shipley said.
Running back/linebacker Preston Richardson showed plenty of burst as he took the ball, while the other running back, Eli Oliver, quickly learned his role in each play.
Receiver Gage Blair had several solid catches.
Shipley credited the players for their commitment to using the last couple of months productively, noting they used 7-on-7 to learn their pass routes. During the first fall training camp practice, the players simply reviewed those routes and learned proper technique.
“We’re ahead of the curve,” Shipley said. “I was really impressed with our returners and effort. This is all going to boil down to how bad you want it.”
He also liked what he saw from the defense, he said.
“The defense was flying around the ball and aggressive,” he said.
About the only concern were the number of linemen practicing. But Shipley said the Flames have more linemen coming as they are out of town, finishing up vacations or recovering from bruises.
Meanwhile, Kyle Honke and Dawson Jordan will anchor the lines.
In all, Shipley believes Faith will suit up 25 players this season. Since the Flames only have nine games, and two weeks to prepare for the district opener at Bryan St. Joseph on Sept. 30, the coach believes the team will be at full strength for the most important part of its season. The Flames play in District 4 Division III of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
The Flames open the season at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 against Centerpoint at Pony Stadium in Marble Falls. See the full schedule at KBEYFM.com.
Shipley said one piece of advice he received from his brother, Belton head coach Bob Shipley, was to make sure the players understood fully what they need to do on every play, adding the Faith coach should be patient as the players learn.
“Keep it simple. Don’t move on until they have their heads around it,” the Belton coach said.
Bob Shipley’s staff also is assisting the Faith staff, Stephen Shipley said, which includes defensive coordinator Jim Richardson and linemen coach Trevor McBryde.
The final 15 minutes of practice was used for conditioning. Stephen Shipley told the players conditioning, or running, wasn’t meant to make them suffer; it was a way to help them.
“We’ll run a lot of no-huddle,” he said. “It’s not punishment; it’s to help us win games. In the fourth quarter, we have to score points.”