STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — While the contest between the Marble Falls and Seguin football teams is the featured event at Mustang Stadium on Friday, Oct. 27, the main attraction will be the color red.
The two teams square off at 7:30 p.m. at the stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Listen to the contest beginning with the Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup at 6:30 p.m. on KBEY 103.9 Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com.
Marble Falls Independent School District has called for a “Red Out” in honor of “Brother Max” Copeland, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Marble Falls who passed away in 2015, to officially begin a scholarship for a student and the Max Copeland Community Heart award, which will be given to an adult. Both recipients will exhibit “Brother Max” qualities and characteristics.
Red buckets will be passed in the stands between the first and second quarters to allow fans to contribute to the scholarship, and Copeland’s family will be recognized along with the red chair that’s near the first row of the F section of the reserved seats on the home side.
The Mustangs will wear red socks during the contest and play with a football that has red laces in the minister’s honor.
Interim head coach Mike Birdwell came up with the idea to honor Copeland during a game over the summer when he walked through the stands and saw the red chair but didn’t know why it was there.
While Birdwell didn’t know Copeland personally, he knows plenty from the people who the minister, and those comments gave the coach a glimpse of Copeland and what he meant to so many. So during the coach’s first year here in 2014, Birdwell decided he’d figure out a way to honor the late minister.
Conversations with many led to the Red Out, he said.
“In late June, we talked about it, and everybody jumped on board,” the coach said.
As for the contest itself, the Mustangs (2-5, 0-4 District 26-5A) are bracing for a Matadors opponent (2-5, 1-3) that runs the spread offense complete with four- and five-receiver sets. Seguin was a two-point run away from beating Castroville Medina Valley late in the fourth quarter but lost 31-30 last week.
Seguin is led by sophomore quarterback Jhalen Mickles, who took over as the starter during the 31-27 win over Lockhart on Sept. 22. Mickles was stopped on the 1-yard line by Medina Valley on the two-point run attempt.
He has completed 63 of 95 passes for 810 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception and has 41 carries for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
“He’s a very dynamic, explosive runner,” Birdwell said. “He’s improved as a passer.”
Senior running back Clarence Tibbs has 61 rushes for 531 yards and five touchdowns and 11 catches for 115 yards and a score.
Junior receiver Hayden Haas leads the squad with 41 receptions for 883 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Matadors prefer to allow the run to set up play-action passes.
Marble Falls had its best defensive game of the district season last week against Kerrville Tivy. Though Tivy won 38-0, the Mustangs held the Antlers to a 17-0 advantage in the first half. Tivy lead 7-0 until the final four minutes of the second quarter.
“We were very aggressive and will continue to do so,” Birdwell said. “We know our kids will make the plays.”
Look for the Matador defense to have seven in the box led by senior middle linebacker Garrett Luensmann, who has 87 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery, and junior defensive back Deryn Taylor, who has 66 tackles, three interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.
Marble Falls will counter with junior quarterback Andrew Stripling, who has completed 101 of 178 attempts for 1,185 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions; junior running back Dillon Mayberry, who has 63 rushes for 312 yards and two touchdowns; and senior receiver Keegan Deering, who has 29 receptions for 416 yards, and six touchdowns.
“We know Seguin will give their best effort,” Birdwell said. “They are looking for a victory. We’ll play Seguin really tough. With our practices, preparation, and film study, we hope to replicate that for four quarters. I know our seniors want to go out with our last two games at home and leave Marble Falls on a positive note.”
What would it mean to have a win on the night Brother Max is honored?
“It would be huge,” Birdwell said. “It would get the district monkey off our backs. We haven’t won a district game in two years. It would mean something to the Copeland family. It would be huge to come away with a win.”