STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Neither head football coach wants to apply pressure to their players, but neither can get away from the simple fact that it will be a District 13-5A Division II showdown Oct. 5.
The Marble Falls Mustangs host the Elgin Wildcats on Friday. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. Listen to the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com beginning with the Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup at 6:30 p.m.
With both Marble Falls (2-2 overall, 0-1 district) and Elgin (1-3, 0-1) seeking their first district victory, the winning squad will take a big step forward in its goal of a postseason berth. The other will find a trickier road to the playoffs.
“I think it’ll be important for this game,” Marble Falls head coach Mike Birdwell said. “You definitely don’t want to go to a 0-2 hole. I think it’s a big game, but it’s not a season-defining game. You definitely don’t want to get into an 0-2 battle.”
“This game is extremely important if you win it,” Elgin head coach Jens Anderson said. “Oh and two is tough(er) to dig out of than 1-1.”
Birdwell said Elgin will bring a fast and physical team on both sides of the ball, including big linemen and fast skill players.
“Coach Anderson is in year two,” he said. “Kids are settled in and comfortable.”
Offensively, the Wildcats will line up in spread formations in an attempt to run the football, Anderson said. The Wildcats are averaging 365 yards a game with 250 on the ground.
“We’ve been consistent in both running and passing the ball,” he said. “We look for explosive plays a lot behind our offensive line. We only have one senior on the line. I feel good about our backs and receivers.”
They are led by senior quarterback Jacob Harkins, who has 31 carries for 158 yards and five touchdowns and has completed 33 of 69 passes for 582 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions. Sophomore running back Peter McFarlin leads the team with 76 carries for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Jerome Wreh has 40 carries for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Senior athlete Tyron McFarlin has 14 catches for 278 yards and three scores.
“If you allow Elgin to make some big plays, they have the potential to have 50-yard runs,” Birdwell said. “You want to frustrate them and force them to throw on third down. They have backs who are fast. They have a well-running quarterback. You definitely have to account for him as far as the box is concerned.”
Defensively, the Wildcats have the preseason pick for the district’s most valuable player in strong safety Tyron McFarlin. They’ll be in a 3-4 front with four defensive backs. Anderson said the defense features players who are getting more experienced every week.
“Our defense is scrappy,” Anderson said. “I think you’ll see our defense progress as we move along. I feel good about that.”
“They do a great job of mixing the coverages,” Birdwell said.
After watching the film of the 38-14 loss to Georgetown East View on Sept. 29, Birdwell saw areas where his team didn’t execute and reminded his players they must commit to doing their parts every play to be successful.
“I think our kids saw how close it was if we execute at a big level,” he said. “In order for us to be the best team we can be, we need to be 11 strong. In order to win in Class 5A football, you have to play at a high level and play consistent football. You have to have execution at a big level to win.”