STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS —The Marble Falls High School football team took to the field Aug. 13 for first time in preparation of the 2018 season.
The Mustangs (3-7 overall, 1-6 in District 26-5A in 2017) had 125 players practicing, including 40 freshmen.
While the numbers were solid, what pleased head coach Mike Birdwell was how quickly the players were able to get into the proper formations. He credited going through a month of spring drills for that.
“We had a lot of retention from spring football,” he said. “It solidified why we did it. We’re very pleased with the retention from May until now.”
He also noted several Mustangs arrived in shape after undergoing six weeks of summer strength and conditioning. Those extra days in the weight room meant coaches didn’t have to spend as much time getting athletes into physical shape to play four quarters. Instead, coaches narrowed in on teaching and correcting.
“Some kids have to get in shape, but they’ll be fine,” Birdwell said.
He complimented the play of quarterbacks Andrew Stripling, a senior, and Luke Nail, a sophomore, who took command of the offenses and communicated on each play. The two rotated every play to try to get equal snaps.
“We have good quarterbacks who are going to put balls on kids,” the coach said.
If the Mustangs see something they can improve that requires extra time on their part, ideally, they come early or stay after practice to work on rapport, which comes with added snaps. The coach said they’ll get plenty of snaps during practices, too.
“We can’t coach the kids on skills,” Birdwell said. “They have to do that stuff on their own. The skills aspect will ramp up every practice.”
New offensive line coach Cyril Lemon was busy correcting his players on footwork, hands, and movement. Birdwell said those players haven’t blocked anyone since May, and coaches are moving them to different spots for evaluations.
Defensively, the Mustangs didn’t allow the offense to find much of a rhythm, and that pleased defensive coordinator Chad Bishop.
“We have great depth on the defensive line,” he said. “There’s competition on the field. Our secondary showed up and played well.”
He added that starting jobs at linebacker are up for grabs, and the inside linebackers were tremendous.
Birdwell said no starting positions have been earned yet.
“Everything is wide open,” Birdwell said. “There’s no guarantees. The idea is to be eleven strong on each side of the ball.”
The Mustangs open the 2018 season at Fisher Canyon Lake, 8555 FM 32. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31. Marble Falls will host Liberty Hill in a scrimmage Friday, Aug. 24, at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Freshmen and junior varsity start at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity following at 7 p.m.