Marble Falls senior defensive back Ryan Minor and the Mustangs are looking for another district win on the road against Austin Northeast. Photo by Stennis Shotts
With only two games left in the regular season, the Marble Falls High School football team feels a sense of urgency to move up in the District 14-5A Division II standings.
If the Mustangs (5-3 overall, 2-2 district) win out, they will finish no worse than third and possibly secure a playoff berth.
With that in mind, the Mustangs face their longest road trip of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 29, when they play Northeast at Nelson Field, 7105 Berkman Drive in Austin. 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.
Northeast (3-5, 1-3) enters the contest with only 19 players on the varsity roster. Based off of the film Marble Falls coaches have studied, head coach Brian Herman compared the Raiders to Austin Travis, which the Mustangs defeated 42-8 on Sept. 23.
“Out of the teams in our district, (Northeast) is one of the more athletic,” Herman said. “Travis was well organized and had athletes and was physical. Northeast is a little bit more consistent on defense and very athletic.”
Where Marble Falls has been dangerous in its wins is on explosive plays: runs of more than 10 yards or more and passes of 15-plus yards. During the 76-0 win against Austin Navarro on Oct. 22, long runs accounted for 16 of the the Mustangs’ 17 explosive plays. Even better, Marble Falls scored 10 touchdowns while only having 25 offensive plays and using nine different ball carriers.
Herman wants to get as many Mustangs involved in the ground attack as possible. That’s apparent when glancing through the stat sheet. Junior tailback Caleb Vidal leads the Mustangs in yardage with 572 on the ground on 71 carries. Senior halfback Roberto Adame is next with 562 yards on 69 rushes, and senior fullback Isaias Fernandez follows with 464 yards on 69 carries.
Herman believes the Raiders will do everything they can to keep the game’s score in the 20s. Northeast will have to establish its own running game and control the ball, keeping the Mustangs’ slot-T offense on the sidelines.
“I think they want to keep the games closer in the hopes their athleticism will eventually pop,” Herman said. “We may hit a few explosive long runs. I feel like they’ll recover. Northeast is more athletic than what we’ve seen, but it’s hard to say because I don’t know which (Raider players) are going to step out on the field.”
That’s why, to Herman, this game is more about what his players will do. He pointed to the intensity the Mustangs displayed against Navarro.
Going into the contest, the coach was confident in his team’s ability and chances to win, but even he was surprised when the Mustangs led 41-0 at the half.
“The momentum was grabbed early, and the first quarter was unexpected,” he said. “We led 49-0 at the half last year. I expected a runaway but not to that pace. Our kids played well.”
The Mustangs coaches are continuing to emphasize mental strength and focus. If players can keep those things during a game, it won’t matter what their opponent does.