STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — The Marble Falls High School football team showed plenty of positives in its only scrimmage of the 2018 season when the Mustangs welcomed Liberty Hill on Aug. 24.
Among the offensive creativity was to use three-year lettermen Cooper Wilson and Dillon Mayberry in a variety of ways. The seniors lined up at slot receiver and also took pitches. The two of them, along with fellow senior, quarterback Andrew Stripling, were able to drive the ball against the Panthers.
Throw in junior running back Hayden Wells, senior receiver Brock Linder, and sophomore receiver Andrew Rodriguez, and the Mustangs were ahead of the chains the first four plays of the scrimmage’s opening series.
In addition, the second-team offense led by sophomore quarterback Luke Nail and sophomore receiver Cody Wilson showed solid chemistry.
What was even more encouraging was the receivers made plays that included leaping grabs and shoestring catches.
“I thought our kids played really tough,” Mustangs head coach Mike Birdwell said. “I thought we had some receivers step in and make some big plays.”
He commended his seniors for their leadership in playing their best throughout the 90-minute scrimmage, noting being veterans and their familiarity with the schemes allowed them to help their teammates make adjustments.
Defensively, the Mustangs made some plays and were able to quickly find the ball most of the time against the Wing-T offense, a run-first scheme that uses misdirection and play action to confuse the opponent.
“I thought our kids ran to the ball hard,” Birdwell said. “We stayed (in) our base defense and let our kids react to the ball.”
Birdwell commended the Panthers, noting high school football experts picked them to reach the Class 4A Division I semifinals. He added that the scrimmage served its purpose: to give the Mustangs a barometer.
“Hats off to those guys,” he said about the Panthers. “They are tradition rich. The kids knew what they were trying to run on offense and on defense.”
Shawn Lapuszynski, former commissioner of the Hill Country Football League, who has coached several Liberty Hill youth football teams, said the Panthers on this year’s varsity have had this season circled for a long time.
“They have been working for this season since they were in youth football,” he said. “We are very excited in Liberty Hill. This group never slept on success but have toiled and chased a goal of being state champions. The varsity and (junior varsity) players for Liberty Hill have helped coach our youth players over the past several years, starting a tradition and leaving that as part of their legacy.”
The Mustangs open the 2018 season at Fischer Canyon Lake. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at Hawk Stadium, 8555 FM 32 in Fischer.
Catch the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or KBEYFM.com beginning with the Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup at 6:30 p.m.