It’s one of the few times the Marble Falls Mustangs will wear red during a football game, but it’s in honor of a man who meant so much to the community.
The Mustangs (4-1 overall, 1-0 District 14-5A Division II) host Austin McCallum at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, for a district matchup at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. You can listen to the game on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, at KBEYFM.com, or via the KBEY app starting with the 7 p.m. pregame show.
It’s Max Copeland Night in honor of the late Brother Max Copeland, who died in 2105, a longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Marble Falls and one of the biggest Mustang and Lady Mustang fans ever. As part of a tribute to the man known for wearing red suspenders and red socks, the Mustangs will wear red laces and red socks during the game.
Spectators can contribute to a scholarship named in honor of Copeland in the red buckets at the gate and passed around during halftime.
The contest has plenty riding on the outcome.
Last season, the Knights (2-2 overall, 0-0 district) won 14-0 by capitalizing on Marble Falls’ mistakes. The Mustangs fumbled in the red zone on a drive late in the second quarter that allowed McCallum to pick up the ball on a bounce for an 84-yard touchdown and a 7-0 halftime lead.
The Knights added to their lead on a drive in the fourth quarter.
The win earned McCallum second in district, while Marble Falls slipped a notch but still made the playoffs.
Mustangs head coach Brian Herman said much of the same is on the line in 2021. The winner of this game continues in its pursuit of competing for a district title and hosting a first-round playoff game, while the loser will need some help.
“Our performance on Friday night (against the Knights) will determine if we get a bonus home game (in the playoffs),” he said. “We didn’t play well (last year). We had multiple opportunities inside the 20 and didn’t score. It’s definitely a point of emphasis this year.”
In listening to Herman talk about the Knights, he could also be talking about his own team.
“They have 29 kids back from last year’s squad, 40 on the roster,” he said. “Thirty-one of their 40 players are seniors. They are very senior heavy. They have three sophomores and two juniors. They feel good about themselves. They are supremely motivated.”
The Knights are led by senior quarterback Jaxon Rosales, who Marble Falls faced last year. He is a running quarterback who can throw. Senior running backs Colby Napier and Thomas Lonsdale are in the backfield, and senior receiver Nate Davidson is dangerous. Junior tight end J.D. Jordan lines up in different places depending on the play.
“He’s a big body,” Herman said of Jordan. “Their offensive line isn’t oversized, but they’re athletic. They have wide receivers who are tough. They’re 70 percent run versus 30 percent pass.”
The Mustangs will counter with defensive linemen Joe Maldonado, a junior, Jeremiah Bales, a sophomore, linebackers Jamie Castillo, a sophomore, Jacob Henry, a junior, and Jose Tonche and David Rodgers, both seniors, and senior defensive backs Tim Vidal, Ryan Minor, Chris Whitecotton, and Forrest Swan.
Perhaps the Mustangs’ best defense is its offense controlling the clock by keeping the football.
Marble Falls has used a slew of runners led by seniors Isaias Fernandez, who has 38 carries for 273 yards and three touchdowns; Roberto Adame, who has 46 carries for 423 yards and five scores; and Rio Suarez, who has 31 carries for 265 yards and six touchdowns. Senior quarterback Jake Becker has 36 carries for 276 yards and three touchdowns, and junior tailback Caleb Vidal has 51 carries for 435 yards and three touchdowns.
The offensive line will have eyes on McCallum junior defensive linemen Miles McCollum, who disrupted many plays during last year’s contest. Senior safeties Ez Guenther and Jake Hissey, who had the 84-yard scoop and score in 2020, have closing speed to the ball.
“(McCollum)’s a stud,” Herman said. “He likes to line up as close to the center as possible. The safeties are playmakers; they make a ton of tackles.”