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Late start for Marble Falls football, which affects Mustang-Bulldog game

2020 Marble Falls-Burnet football game in jeopardy

The 2020 Burnet Bulldogs-Marble Falls Mustangs football game might not happen this year after the University Interscholastic League announced 5A and 6A schools can’t begin football practices before September 7 and games before September 24. The contest was slated for September 4. Marble Falls High School is a Class 5A school, while Burnet is Class 4A. Photo by Mark Stracke

The University Interscholastic League on Tuesday, July 21, announced updates to the 2020-21 extracurricular schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes affect when Marble Falls can begin its fall seasons.

The UIL governs Texas public school extracurricular activities, including sports and marching band. The changes mainly impact schools in the 5A and 6A classifications, though it does shake up the annual Marble Falls-Burnet football game.

As a Class 5A school, Marble Falls cannot start volleyball and football team practices before September 7. Volleyball can begin playing matches the week of September 14 with football games starting no sooner than September 24. Cross country and tennis squads can hold their first meets and matches the week of September 7.

“Essentially, (the UIL change) pushes football back a month,” Marble Falls Independent School District Athletic Director Rick Hoover said. “The UIL is trying to give us a complete season with state championships in football being played in January. They’re extending everything a month to give the kids what they deserve. I was really scared they were going to shorten the season. They certainly could’ve gone that route. We’ll have some positive momentum to carry over the next 60 days. It allows our seniors to have their seasons.”

At Burnet High School, which is Class 4A, things basically remain the same as before the announcement. The UIL modified the calendar for schools in larger classifications — 5A and 6A — because those campuses are generally found in higher-populated areas, many of which are facing spikes in COVID-19 cases. 

Earlier in July, the Austin-Travis County local health authority curtailed in-person school until at least September 8 for Travis County, which also pushed back start dates for extracurricular activities. 

“This plan provides a delay for schools in highly-populated metro areas, primarily conferences 5A-6A, given the challenges with COVID-19 those communities are facing, while providing schools in other areas, primarily 1A-4A, an opportunity to start seasons on schedule,” according to a UIL statement. “Acknowledging the situation is not always clearcut and that COVID-19 affects every community differently, the plan also allows for local flexibility and encourages districts to plan for possible interruptions in order to complete district seasons.”

Burnet volleyball and football teams can begin fall practices Monday, August 3, as regularly scheduled. Their games and matches can also begin as planned, but with some adjustments due to opponents.

“Our calendar is scheduled to stay the same,” said Burnet Consolidated ISD Athletic Director Kurt Jones. “Our first two (football) opponents are Leander Rouse and Marble Falls. That means we need to look for games for week one and week two.”

Rouse is a 5A school.

Jones said Burnet also will have to look down its schedule at the October 30 game against Austin LBJ. Though LBJ is a 4A school, it’s in Austin, which falls under the Austin-Travis County health authority’s order for a later start to activities. 

MFISD’s Hoover said he isn’t giving up hope for a Burnet-Marble Falls football game this year.

“It crushes me to think we won’t have this game this year,” he said. “Something might fall out of the schedule in week eight or week nine where we have similar weeks where one of our opponents can’t play. It would make sense to fill the schedule with each other. Hopefully, we can.”

BCISD’s Jones agreed.

“That’s a game we all want to play,” he said. “There’s an excitement around the county and a buzz in both communities.”