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Flames face No. 2 six-man team in state

Faith Academy Flames football

Faith Academy of Marble Falls seniors Harrison Hanner (left) and Case Coleman lead pass route drills with their teammates during a recent practice in preparation for the season opener against Richland Springs High School on Friday, Aug. 27. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team could not have lined up a better opponent to begin the 2021 season on Friday, Aug. 27, than Richland Springs High School.

The Coyotes, ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, are the University Interscholastic League’s most decorated six-man program. They are aiming for their 10th state championship, which eluded them in 2020. The Coyotes lost the Class 1A Division II title to Balmorhea 74-38. That loss snapped a 26-game winning streak. 

“They’re probably another state championship team,” said Faith head coach Stephen Shipley. “It’ll be the best team we play all year.”

The Coyotes are led by quarterback Jadeyn Bryant, an all-state selection and the state’s defensive most valuable player. He is the preseason offensive MVP for District 16-1A Division II.

Other Richland Springs standouts are running backs Zane Capps, Gage Beherns, and Zeke Hoover; receivers Nick Nilson, Jermiah Usery, and Jayden Sutherland; and quarterback Hutton Rogers. Capps was named to the 2020 all-state team as a receiver. 

Expect to see speed from Bryant, Capps, and Nilson, who all medaled at the state track meet in the spring. 

The Coyotes are equally good on defense, led by linebackers Keston Lusty and Hudson Tharp and defensive backs Brandon Stewart and Kenny Triplett.

“They’re always going to be well coached,” said Shipley, referring to Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart. “He’ll mix up his fronts and his rushers. He’ll bring two (pass rushers) one time and four the next and do blitzes and stunts. (In this game), I’m the rookie and he’s the veteran.”  

The Flames (4-Division II six-man, Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) enter this contest with confidence after a strong performance in their Aug. 20 scrimmage against New Braunfels Christian. Faith outscored the Wildcats 32-6.

“We were able to do some things better on defense,” Shipley said. “We did a better job of blocking and did some basic things to get better.”

Seniors Case Coleman and Harrison Hanner will split duties at quarterback for the Flames. Faith’s playbook has gotten bigger, which will allow Shipley to keep defenses guessing, especially since the Flames have depth at every position. 

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Britton Field on the Faith campus, 3151 RR 1431 East in Marble Falls.