After losing back-to-back District 14-5A Division II contests, the Marble Falls High School football team is fifth in the district standings with three games remaining in the regular season.
A win is a must on Friday, Oct. 22, when Marble Falls (4-3 overall, 1-2 district) welcomes Austin Navarro (0-7, 0-4) for homecoming at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. You can 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.
At the top of the district sits Liberty Hill (6-2, 4-0) followed by Austin McCallum (4-3, 2-1), Austin Crockett (2-5, 2-1), and Austin Travis (2-4, 2-2).
Marble Falls lost to Liberty Hill (21-14) and McCallum (20-13) but beat Travis (42-8). The Mustangs travel to Austin Northeast (3-4, 1-2) on Oct. 29 and host Crockett (2-5, 1-2) in the regular season finale Nov. 5.
“In order to get to where we need to be, we need to win out,” said Mustangs head coach Brian Herman. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable.”
Navarro has a 26-player roster and has used three different players at quarterback: senior Keillan Moore and sophomores Bryan Nieto and Daemion Cervantes.
“It’s hard to prepare because it’s unprecedented,” Herman said of the three-man quarterback rotation. “Moore and Nieto have taken turns at quarterback and receiver. Cervantes has come in and played quarterback as a passer. He’s more of a traditional spread quarterback who’ll facilitate the offense. He’ll use his legs for some situations. Moore and Nieto have more designed quarterback runs and off-schedule runs. Who do you prepare for? A passing quarterback or the running quarterbacks?”
The Mustangs must get defensive pressure on the Vikings and will lean heavily on their front seven led by linemen Joe Maldonado, a senior, sophomore Jeremiah Bales, and junior Kevin Aguilar along with linebackers Jose Tonche, a senior, junior Jacob Henry, and sophomore Jamie Castillo, and senior rover David Rodgers.
“(Navarro’s) offensive line has struggled, and I think we’ll have the advantage on the front lines,” Herman said. “We’ll have to tackle well and win the line of scrimmage. We can’t over scheme. We have to keep it simple.”
The Navarro defense is led by linemen Jacobi Simmons, a freshman, and junior Ramon Sanchez and cornerbacks Moore and Nieto.
“The secondary is athletic,” Herman said. “I’m hoping they have to come up and be physical. I don’t know how much they like physical offensive lines and what we do. They seem well coached.”
The Marble Falls offense looks to put more points on the scoreboard, which means avoiding costly penalties and turnovers as well as finishing drives. In the Mustangs’ four wins, they averaged 37 points. They have lost three games by a total of 15 points because of penalties, turnovers, and punts.
Coaches want to see Marble Falls do to Navarro what it did against Travis. The starters built a 28-8 lead in the first half, allowing coaches to substitute freely throughout the second half. In its victories, Marble Falls used nine different ball carriers and threw touchdowns passes, which surprised defenses.
“We’re pretty beat up after Liberty Hill,” Herman said. “We’re looking to utilize fresh legs on both sides of the ball. We need to protect some of our bodies and give other kids an opportunity to show us what they can do.”