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Mustangs open district on the road

Marble Falls football versus Nike Dallas 2021

Marble Falls senior fullback Isaias Fernandez and the Mustangs travel to Austin Travis on Thursday, Sept. 23, for the District 14-5A Division II opener. Photo by Stennis Shotts

It’s a short week for the Marble Falls High School football team after its first loss of the season. It’s also the opening of District 14-5A Division II play, and the Mustangs (3-1) are on the road.

Marble Falls (3-1) faces Austin Travis on Thursday, Sept. 23, at the Toney Burger Center, 3200 Jones Road in Austin. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Listen to the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, at KBEYFM.com, or via the KBEY app starting with a pregame show at 7 p.m.

The Rebels come into the contest having only played one game this season due to illnesses, a 70-0 loss to Jarrell on Sept. 2.

“Travis is very much an unknown,” Marble Falls head coach Brian Herman said. “We have only one film, and it’s a lopsided loss to Jarrell. Travis didn’t play in week one. They haven’t played in two weeks, so we have no idea what kind of changes they’ve made. They could have installed who knows what. It’s been three weeks since their last game, and they could have changed personnel, changed their style of play. We have very little to go on.”

Travis is led by senior quarterback Brandon Maldonado, a new starter this season who played wide receiver and defensive back in 2020. The line has experience from last season with seniors Fidelmar Martinez, Fernando Abella, and John Sarinana and juniors Miguel Martinez and Allan Ramos.

“They have an athlete at quarterback who hands the ball off, will run, and occasionally throw,” Herman said. “They have a couple of 300-pound-plus linemen. I don’t know that they have the depth.”

Marble Falls will lean heavily on defensive linemen Joe Maldonado, a senior, sophomore Jeremiah Bales, and junior Kevin Aguilar, linebackers Jose Tonche, a senior, junior Jacob Henry, and sophomore Jamie Castillo, and senior defensive backs Tim Vidal, Ryan Minor, Chris Whitecotton, and Forrest Swan.

The Mustangs have been preparing for the unknown in practices this week.

“What are they going to do?” Herman said about Travis. “That’s drastically going to affect how you play. We’re guessing a lot, and we’re preparing a lot of different things for the unknown. If you don’t know what they’re going to do, it’s hard to prepare. You have to prepare for a double-reverse pass because what if they do that?”

Marble Falls will rely on its slot-T offense with the aim of finishing drives the way it did in its first three wins. During their loss to Nike Dallas on Sept. 17, the Mustangs scored three touchdowns in nine possessions. Two drives ended in interceptions, one in a fumble, and two more on turnovers on downs. Penalties also hurt the Mustangs as a block in the back took what looked to be the game-winning touchdown on an interception off the board.

As a team, the Mustangs are averaging about 320 yards on the ground and have used nine different ball carriers. Junior tailback Caleb Vidal has 44 carries for 336 yards and two touchdowns, while senior halfback Roberto Adame has 38 rushes for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Fullback Rio Suarez and quarterback Jake Becker, both seniors, have more than 200 yards for the season.

Though district is a new season, Herman noted his team’s goals haven’t changed. And that’s to hoist gold balls signifying championship wins and to finish no worse than the district runner-up to host a bi-district championship.

“Our goal is the district championship,” Herman said. “The top two teams in this district get to host.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com