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Faith Academy takes on Conroe Covenant for shot at state title game

Faith Academy of Marble Falls football

The Faith Academy Flames want to establish their offensive will in a state semifinal matchup against Conroe Covenant Christian. Photo by Mark Stracke

The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team is one win away from playing for the six-man Class 2A state championship of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Standing in the way is Conroe Covenant Christian School. 

The two schools square off at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, at Allen Academy, 3201 Boonville Road in Bryan.

It’s a rematch of last year’s 62-57 thriller won by the Flames (11-0 overall, 6-0 District 4). 

Both teams mirror each other in many ways. They each have at least 20 players and can score in multiple ways while keeping opponents out of the end zone. 

“They are a very good team,” Flames head coach Stephen Shipley said. “They’re the best team we’ve faced. They have a lot of returners from last year. They lost a senior, and we lost a senior. They return quite a bit. They’re bigger, faster, stronger, and we’re bigger, faster, stronger. Last year was a good matchup.”

The Cougars (11-1, 3-1 District 6) meet Faith after defeating Temple Holy Trinity 88-42 last week. In that game, sophomore quarter Jackson Rudy had 168 passing yards and five touchdowns, while junior running back Kade Houston had 256 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Dylan Harper had three touchdowns and totaled 88 yards. 

Much of Covenant’s schemes revolve around Houston, who will line up in at different spots to create mismatches.

“They’re trying to get the ball to him. He’s their horse,” Shipley said. “If you watch their games, they’re trying to get the ball into his hands. If Houston gets in open field, he can turn it on pretty fast. He’s the best running back we’ve faced. He’s their leader, he’s their heart and soul, he’s their go-to guy.”

The Flames will rely on senior Ben Martin to lead a defense that is always in attack mode to cause havoc. Martin is averaging one interception per contest. 

Defensively, Covenant’s Houston lines up at middle linebacker but roams the field in anticipation of where the ball might go. 

“He flies around,” Shipley said. “They’re balanced, they’re physical, and they tackle well.”

Faith seniors Case Coleman and Harrison Hanner split duties in running, passing, and receiving the ball. They also get their teammates involved as they look for one-on-one matchups. 

The Flames know they can’t take this opponent lightly.

“They came close to winning that game last year,” Shipley said. “Obviously, they’re coming out with something to prove. We know them, and they know us. They’re a good solid team across the board.”

He isn’t concerned his players will be so eager to play that they make mistakes. 

“I don’t think you can be too up, that’s my opinion,” he said. “I told the kids there’s nothing really I need to say at this point. We’re in the state semifinals and playing for a chance to go to the state championship. What more can I say to get them motivated?”

jfierro@thepicayune.com