STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Knowing their players’ hearts and minds were on helping their families, friends, and neighbors following the devastating Oct. 16 floods, sports administrators at Marble Falls and Bastrop high schools decided to move their District 13-5A Division II contest to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Bastrop Memorial Stadium, 755 Texas 21 West in Cedar Creek.
Listen to the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com starting with a 12:30 p.m. pregame.
The two teams were supposed to play Friday, Oct. 19.
Marble Falls head coach Mike Birdwell noted the Mustangs (2-4 overall, 0-3 district) have had only one practice, which was Oct. 15, in one of the high school gymnasiums because of lightning.
With Marble Falls Independent School District officials making the decision to cancel classes and all activities Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 16-17, the Mustangs haven’t been able to adequately prepare, Birdwell said.
“I think there’s a consistency and a need for reps, whether you play young kids or older kids,” he said. “Reps are critical, but, at this time, people are safe and out of harm’s way.”
If there’s a school district in the state that understands natural disasters and how they affect a program, it’s Bastrop Independent School District, which suffered during flooding last year and wildfires in 2016. Head coach Todd Patmon and his staff contacted their Marble Falls counterparts to ask what they can do to help.
“Our minds have been on your safety and on your community,” head coach Todd Patmon said. “I think that’s what’s expected. I’ve been around a lot of coaches, and we always look at each other as family. It’s about the coaching community and the kids who allow us to do this job.”
The Mustangs will face a Bears squad eager to get back to winning. Bastrop (4-2, 2-1), which is in a four-way tie for second place in the district with Georgetown East View, Brenham, and Elgin, beat Pflugerville Weiss 19-7 to begin district play then came from behind to defeat rival Bastrop Cedar Creek 29-28 a week later. Last week, the Bears lost to East View 30-25.
The Bears are led by junior quarterback Desmond Young, who has completed 57 of 103 passes for 855 yards, 10 touchdowns, and two interceptions and has rushed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries. Senior running back Jhequay Chretin has 98 carries for 435 yards and six touchdowns.The receiving corps is led by juniors Cedric Tarver, who has nine catches for 249 yards and five touchdowns, and Nathan Blair, who has 21 receptions for 200 yards and a score.
“Their backs run the ball well at the point of attack,” Birdwell said. “Their wide receivers block, and their offensive linemen are physical. They play with an edge. They’re definitely going to be tough to defend.”
Defensively, Bastrop is led by a pair of junior linebackers, Tyrin Smith and Xavier Williams, who each have 34 tackles. Williams has an interception, and Smith has a sack.
“Their kids do a great job of running to the football,” Birdwell said. “We’re going to try to do what we can to get first downs. We definitely have to take care of the ball to give ourselves a chance to do good things.”
Marble Falls will counter with senior quarterback Andrew Stripling, who has completed 68 of 119 passes for 1,013 yards, eight touchdowns, and an interception and has rushed for 140 yards and four scores on 36 carries. Senior running back Cooper Wilson has 63 carries for 352 yards and four touchdowns, and senior receiver Brock Linder has 21 receptions for 389 yards and two touchdowns.
Birdwell noted many of his players were busy helping their families clean up homes, clear debris, and doing a lot of manual labor because of the more than 10 inches of rain and flood waters that came through the city Oct. 16. The last thing in their minds right now is studying a playbook or a scouting report, watching film, or preparing for a football game.
“We can’t ask parents and kids to come to school,” Birdwell said Tuesday. “Many of our players are unloading homes and helping family members. Hopefully, we’ll have normal classes Thursday, and we’ll try to get geared up.”