Marble Falls High School interim head football coach Mike Birdwell lines up players to perform mat drills as defensive coordinator Chad Bishop (back, left) encourages them during summer conditioning in June. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team might be starting its training camp a week later than its neighbors in Burnet County, but that doesn’t mean the Mustangs won’t begin the season ready to compete.
The first day of training camp starts at 6 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14, at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive.
Players will receive their equipment and lockers and turn in paperwork before changing to take the field at about 7 a.m.
Interim head coach Mike Birdwell, who is leading his first training camp, said 165 athletes in grades 9-12 have signed up to play football in 2017. More than 60 of the players are freshmen.
“That’s part of the relationship we’ve built up,” he said. “The kids know the staff. We’re running the same offense and defense and special teams. We are here, and we support our kids.”
Birdwell, who will coach the quarterbacks, noted this is the first year the Mustangs will have a returning starter in that position. Junior quarterback Andrew Stripling, standing 6 feet 4 inches, used his summer to play 7-on-7 with the team and attended several football camps across the state, including ones at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Birdwell said having an experienced quarterback is comforting.
“But we want to be competitive at every position,” he said. “We want everybody showing up hungry (with) that ‘I’m going to earn my position every single day’ attitude.”
Since most of the coaches return, the players already know what to expect and are familiar with the schemes. Birdwell said he is looking forward to the start of training camp.
“I am so fired up,” he said. “We have an unbelievable staff. I think our kids know our staff really loves them, and I’m only going to be as good as our coaching staff.”
The players went through several weeks of strength and conditioning during the Marble Falls summer program before taking a few days off to rest last week.
A parents meeting is 6 p.m. Monday at Max Copeland Gym at the high school.
Fans can get their first look at the 2017 team when the Mustangs host Georgetown East View in a scrimmage Friday, Aug. 25, at the stadium. Sub-varsities take the field at 6 p.m. with the varsity following.
Marble Falls also is participating in the “Our Day to Shine” event, which is sponsored by the Texas High School Coaches Education Association.
“Our Day to Shine” raises money for the association’s Benevolence Fund, which assists athletes and coaches with special needs or hardships. More than 900 schools have participated to raise more than $383,000 with $382,000 helping those in need.
Fans attending the free scrimmage can donate money as they walk through the gates.
“It’s an opportunity for our association to know that we have your back,” Birdwell said. “It’s really cool.”