STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team travels to Lockhart on a winning high.
The Mustangs (3-5, 1-4 District 26-5A) defeated Seguin 35-21 last week to end an 11-game district losing streak. Now, they will try to win two district contests in the same year for the first time since the 2014 season.
Standing in their way are the Lockhart Lions (2-6, 0-5), who are on a six-game losing streak in district dating to the end of last season.
Catch the contest on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the “Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup.”
“Lockhart has had a season similar to ours,” Marble Falls interim head coach Mike Birdwell said. “They’ve had success and some tough times to deal with. Their kids play tough.”
The Lions lost to Castroville Medina Valley 14-7 on Oct. 27. It’s the third game this season that Lockhart lost by one possession. The other two games were against San Antonio Alamo Heights, 28-21, and Seguin 31-27.
“Our games have been close most of the year,” Lions head coach Brian Herman said. “It’s been disappointing because we haven’t had the ability to make the most of our opportunities.”
Herman noted the Lockhart offense had a 21-20 lead against Alamo Heights and needed to run out the clock but couldn’t do so. Against Medina Valley, the Lions put together a 15-play drive but came away with no points.
Lockhart uses the Slot-T offense, a run-based scheme that specializes in misdirection to fool the defense. The key to that offense is to average 3.3 yards a play and stay on schedule. When mistakes happen, such as a missed blocked or a penalty, that puts more pressure on the offense, Herman said.
“We don’t have the luxury of making mistakes and overcoming them,” he said.
The Lockhart offense is led by senior quarterback Logan Brown, who has completed 21 or 41 attempts for 207 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions and has 54 carries for 189 yards and three touchdowns; junior fullback Daequan Ellison, who has 94 carries for 638 yards and 10 touchdowns; and senior running back Trival Joseph, who has 29 carries for 160 yards.
Three other Lions have more than 100 yards rushing.
“The quarterback is a good athlete,” Birdwell said.
Lockhart’s goal is to shorten the game by running the football to control the clock. That puts pressure on defense to get off the field as quickly as possible so the offense has time to respond.
Though this is the second time the Mustangs have defended the Slot-T, the Lions’ version is different from what Medina Valley runs.
Medina Valley used spread formation in its version with four-receiver sets and three receivers on one side. Lockhart wants to run off tackle and control the trenches.
“Lockhart has the ability to grind the ball,” Birdwell said. “They have skill players who fly around. When we have the ball, we’re going to need to score.”
Five Lions start on offense and defense: seniors Austin Garcia, Logan Schnautz, and Zion Petty, sophomore Daetron Ellison, Brown, and Joseph.
The last several defenses Marble Falls has faced have stacked the box and left Mustang receivers in one-on-one coverage. Against Kerrville Tivy, Marble Falls struggled to complete passes. Against Seguin, the Mustangs completed five passing plays of 15 yards or more.
Junior quarterback Andrew Stripling threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns off 19 of 25 completions in the Mustangs’ win against Seguin.
“Teams have tried to man us up to force you to run the ball,” Birdwell said. “Against Seguin, we were able to run the ball, and it opens up the passing game.”
The other components in the win, the coach noted, was the offensive line played a tremendous game in opening holes for running backs and in pass protection and the receivers consistently caught balls to move the chains.
“We were able to make big plays,” he said. “We felt like the kids focused in and played one of their toughest games and gritted it out.”
The Mustangs led Seguin 28-0 early in the third quarter. They had scored on four of five possessions, including their opening drives of each half and their final drive before intermission.
“It really gave our kids momentum and inspired them to a victory,” Birdwell said.
This matchup between Lockhart and Marble Falls might be each team’s best chance to get a victory before the regular season ends. The Mustangs host Dripping Springs on Nov. 10, and the Lions face Kerrville Tivy.
Herman tells his players all the time that they’ll put a game together where all the elements fall into place.
“I tell them their record doesn’t define them,” he said. “It’s not a measurement of where they’re at. It’s not luck, it’s bad breaks.”
The Mustangs are preparing to get Lockhart’s best effort.
“We are not going to go over there and not face an inspired team,” Birdwell said. “We know that.”