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Faith Flames face tough Temple Holy Trinity in district road game

Faith Academy of Marble Falls football player Malachi Blackington

Faith Academy senior Malachi Blackington and the Flames begin district play on the road against Temple Holy Trinity. Photo by Stennis Shotts

The contest between the Faith Academy of Marble Falls and Temple Holy Trinity football teams Friday could decide the District 4-Division II championship.

It’s the district opener for both teams, which compete in Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools six-man football. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Trinity’s campus, 6608 W. Adams in Temple.

The Celtics (2-2) lost their season opener to Azle Christian 32-30 and fell to Fort Worth THESA 66-60 last week. Their wins are against Chester, 26-20, and Keene, 68-26.

Meanwhile, the Flames (3-0) have wins over Richland Hills, 62-34, Bulverde Living Rock, 52-7, and Fredericksburg Heritage, 74-50.

Faith head coach Stephen Shipley said his team understands what’s at stake.

“They’ve always been consistently good,” he said about Temple Holy Trinity. “Last year, we played them for the district championship (a 44-22 Faith win). They’re gunning for us this year. They feel like they’re one of the top teams. It’s a district championship-type game.”

Holy Trinity’s loss to THESA got Shipley’s attention. The Riders, who are members of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations, beat Dallas Lakehill Prep, the defending TAPPS Division II state champion, 61-53 in triple overtime Sept. 10.

Shipley’s assessment of the Celtics is they are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to take on the Flames. And Holy Trinity will use their home-field advantage as a battery charger for the contest. 

It’s also Faith’s first road game of the season.

“Guys will have to adjust to traveling and playing in a different environment,” Shipley said. “Last year, we beat them, but like us, all of their kids are returners.”

None more valuable to the Celtics than senior captain Zaylin Blackwood, who lines up at running back and receiver. 

“He’s as fast as any player we’ll face,” Shipley said. “He’s lightning and has (Baltimore Ravens quarterback) Lamar Jackson-type speed. They’re looking for mismatches because he’s that type of playmaker. If they get a big play, it’s going to be him.”

The Flames will rely on their depth to keep legs fresh by using multiple players throughout the contest. Faith has about 25 on the roster, which gives coaches options after players return from bruises that have limited them. Most important, it allows for 12 different starters without having to rely on the same ones to start on both offense and defense. 

“This is the first game we have everybody available,” Shipley said. “From the first kickoff, we’ll be ready. We’ll get their minds right and bring them focused. (The Celtics are) going to play us hard. They think it’s between us and them for district.”