STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The Brian Herman era of Marble Falls High School football officially kicks off August 30 against Fischer Canyon Lake.
The game begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive.
Last year, Canyon Lake (District 14-4A Division I) won the contest 22-0 using the slot-T offense, the same scheme the Mustangs (District 13-5A Division II) have spent August learning.
Herman said his team has responded well to the new system, noting it’s a much different scheme than what players were used to. Marble Falls was running a version of the spread offense, which depends on short passes, for more than a decade. The slot-T is a run-first offense emphasizing misdirection.
“I’ve been pleased with the way kids have responded to adversity,” Herman said. “The kids have risen to different challenges.”
One challenge is a blocking change for the offensive linemen. Instead of standing up and keeping the defensive line in front of them as they step backward, which is the method used in the spread, they now need to get low and angle block to push the defense back or to one side and open a crease for running backs.
Many of the linemen will make their varsity debuts Friday.
Marble Falls also has a new starting quarterback, sophomore Jake Becker. He’s surrounded by experienced players, including fullback Gabriel Barker and running backs Lance Poling and Hayden Wells, who are all seniors.
Like the Mustangs, the Hawks graduated many of the players who guided the team to the playoffs in 2018. Canyon Lake lost to Needville 42-28 in last year’s bi-district championship.
Junior quarterback Payton McMullen returns for his second year as the starter. In 2018, he completed 32 of 68 passes for 721 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Hawks head coach Charley Drum said that, going into August, his team had many question marks next to the starting positions. Having an experienced quarterback is a plus.
The Hawks have run the slot-T for more than five years.
“They’re very good at it,” Herman said.
Marble Falls counters with senior defensive linemen Sam May and Josh Whitecotton.
Defensively, the Hawks have six players on the line and can be expected to change defensive looks on every play in an attempt to confuse the Mustangs.
Herman said Marble Falls coaches have made some adjustments that have been kept under wraps.
“Our kids are understanding the tweaks to give us an advantage,” he said. “(Canyon Lake’s) front line is very aggressive. We have to get better at coming off the ball and not be pushed back.”
At 7:05 p.m., Marble Falls Independent School District is hosting a ribbon-cutting to commemorate the new artificial turf and track at Mustang Stadium.
If you can’t make the game, tune in to KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com starting with the “Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup” at 6:30 p.m. and a pregame show at 7 p.m.