STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — Faith Academy of Marble Falls is returning to six-man football for the 2018 season.
That’s not the only change for the private Christian school.
The academy will also drop from Class 4A to 3A starting next school year with realignment of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, which happens every two years.
Faith Academy athletics director Randy Denton said the school had hoped to wait until after the football season to reveal the move from 11-man back to six-man, but with TAPPS announcing realignment for most sports, including football, that wasn’t possible.
Unlike in the University Interscholastic League, which oversees sports programs in public schools and counts total enrollment of all students, TAPPS looks at overall enrollment then the number of boys at each school. The number of boys determines in which football classification each school plays. Faith has 48 boys enrolled in grades 8-11.
While Denton acknowledged that 48 boys is great for 11-man football if each joins the team, it’s challenging if not every boy tries out for the sport. This season, the Flames had 14 players, but injuries to two players meant having only one substitute.
That was why Faith canceled its game at the Texas School for the Deaf, which was scheduled for Oct. 26, as well as the game at Waco Reicher on Oct. 20.
Denton likes returning to six-man football, which the school played from 2000-2011 before moving to 11-man.
“Six-man is who we are,” he said. “We’ll get back to the roots of Faith Academy. It’s not fair to the kids or the school to force something we’re not.”
Faith will play in Six-Man Division I, District 2 with Austin Veritas Academy, Austin Hill Country Christian, Round Rock Concordia, Round Rock Christian, and Waco Vanguard Prep.
“I think it’ll rekindle old rivalries,” said Denton, referring to Round Rock Christian and Austin Hill Country Christian. “That’s something we missed, and something that would be healthy is playing schools our size.”
The move to six-man means the Flames will be able to play home games at their field on their campus. As an 11-man team, Faith played its home games at Pony Stadium on the Marble Falls Middle School campus.
TAPPS announced general realignment Oct. 25. It affects volleyball, basketball, and some of the spring sports. District 3-3A includes Round Rock Concordia, Round Rock Christian, Temple Central Texas Christian, and Waco Live Oak Classical.
While some might see the Flames dropping to Class 3A as a move down, Denton sees it as a move up.
“The main reason is because we’re back to schools our size,” he said. “It helps even the playing field.”
Class 4A has a bottom cutoff number of 140 enrolled students. Faith had 142 in 2016, making it the smallest member in the conference. Facing an opponent such as Boerne Geneva, with an enrollment of 260, was a challenge for Faith, which has a current enrollment of 112.
“(Geneva) has a hundred more kids,” Denton said. “That’s a big deal.”
Denton anticipates the competition for the Lady Flames will be solid in most sports, noting Round Rock Christian’s volleyball team advances to the state tournament just about every year, and the Temple Central Texas Christian’s basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the small schools poll of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. The Lady Flames basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the large schools poll.
He noted the Round Rock Christian boys basketball team has a tradition of qualifying for the playoffs each year.
“They beat us last year, and they get better and better every year,” Denton said. “I think it’s a very competitive district.”