STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
When the Marble Falls and Geronimo Navarro high school football teams converge September 13, it might seem like they’re mirror images of each other.
Both run the slot-T offense and have mostly new starters.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. It’s also homecoming night for the Mustangs, who are playing in their final non-district game of 2019.
Last season, the Mustangs (0-2, District 13-5A Division II) stunned the Panthers (2-0, District 13-4A Division II) in a 42-32 win, giving Navarro one of only three losses on the year.
“It was a tough loss for us,” Panthers head coach Rod Blount said. “Hopefully, our focus is on us getting better each week. Our district is pretty tough from top to bottom. We need to be tested early on.”
Navarro enters this contest after beating Gonzales 17-16 and Marion 55-15.
The Panthers are led by senior running back Euler Deleon, who has 20 carries for 278 yards and five touchdowns, and junior running back Jean Sims, who has 15 carries for 93 yards and a score.
Senior running back Johnny Alegria, who has 24 carries for 204 yards and a score, isn’t expected to play because of an injury.
Blount has been alternating junior Sam Muniga and sophomore Nick Billings at quarterback.
He noted the offensive line lost “thirteen feet and six hundred pounds” of offensive tackles to graduation.
“Most of our kids have been in the system for a long time,” he said. “The offensive line for us is young. It has to improve for us every day.”
The Mustangs will counter with junior defensive lineman Gabe Perez and senior defensive lineman Josh Whitecotton.
Blount said there’s plenty to like about Whitecotton, noting his ability to block on either side of the ball and line up at tight end to catch passes.
Marble Falls head football coach Brian Herman said one area that will help the Mustangs is Navarro’s offensive blocking is similar to that of Marble Falls; therefore, the defense shouldn’t be surprised. Herman also has used film of the Panthers to show his offensive players what the slot-T can do.
“They run angry,” Herman said of Navarro. “The kids run hard, and it’s a good tutorial. Navarro stays true to the base stuff.”
Much like Marble Falls, Navarro’s defense has been ahead of the offense for the first two weeks of the season and is led by linebacker Deleon and senior defensive end Brett Butler. They are joined by linebackers Gabriel Means, a senior, and Cole Mouser, a freshman.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to get a feel for where there’s a weakness,” Herman said referring to the Panthers’ defense.
Marble Falls’ offense is led by senior fullback Gabriel Barker, who has a 56.5-yards-per-carry average, and junior running back Keaton Rodriguez, who is averaging 48.5 yards a game.
Herman believes special teams could play a factor in the outcome of the contest and used the Mustangs’ 41-6 loss to Burnet on September 6 as Exhibit A.
In that game, the Mustangs called for a fake punt, which led to a 41-yard run by senior running back Jett Huffman, while the Bulldogs executed a fake extra-point attempt and completed a 2-point pass.
“We have to be sharp,” he said.
The Mustangs began the season with a 7-0 loss to Fischer Canyon Lake.
Mustang Stadium is located at 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. If you can’t make the game, listen live on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune or at KBEYFM.com beginning with the “Highland Lakes Coaches Roundup” at 6:30 p.m.