The Faith Academy of Marble Falls Flames are playing for their second state title in program history on Thursday, Dec. 2. Kickoff is at noon at Waco ISD Stadium. Photo by Mark Stracke
The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team made it no secret the past few months that its goal was to win the Class 2A state championship of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
At noon on Thursday, Dec. 2, the Flames (12-0 overall, 6-0 District 4) will be four quarters away from realizing that goal. They’re facing an equally motivated opponent in Waco Live Oak Classical (13-0, 5-0 District 3).
“This is the matchup everybody has been saying all season they want to see,” said Faith head coach Stephen Shipley.
When describing the Falcons, he could have been talking about his own team. Both squads have mercy-ruled seven of their opponents this season. TAPPS games end early if a team is up by 45 or more points at halftime.
“They have speed, they have size, they can block up front, they get to the ball in a hurry, they’re a well-coached team,” he said. “When you get to the state championship, you have a little bit of everything.”
Live Oak Classical is led by senior Justice Ishio, a tremendous athlete who starts on both offense and defense. Known for his speed, Ishio has 90 carries for 1,232 yards and 26 touchdowns and 11 receptions for 290 yards and six scores this season. While Ishio is the Falcons go-to player, the Faith defense can’t overlook senior Carter Cheek, who has 33 carries for 397 yards and 12 touchdowns and five catches for 130 yards and three scores.
The Falcons line up in tight formations and are rarely confused with blocking assignments, which is what makes their offense so lethal, Shipley said.
“They’re opening up holes,” he said of the Falcons’ line. “(Ishio) hits it strong. He’s getting his yards.”
Senior quarterback Mason Peters has completed 76 of 124 passes for 1,482 yards, 40 touchdowns, and one interception this season. He’s averaging 19.5 yards a pass.
“He can throw very well,” Shipley said. “He’s pretty accurate, and he can scramble well. He can throw when he has time.”
Faith senior Ben Martin will lead the Flames’ defensive charge against the Falcons. Offensively, Faith will look to seniors Case Coleman and Harrison Hanner along with Martin to control the ball.
Live Oak Classical is playing for its third state title after winning it all in 2016 and 2017 and finishing as the runner-up in 2014 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Faith is playing in its second state title game in the history of its program. In its first appearance in 2003, the Flames lost 62-20 to Granbury Happy Hill. Happy Hill was riding a 24-game winning streak and had mercy-ruled every opponent it played that season, said former Flames coach Mark Earwood.
Meanwhile, the Flames were 8-4 and “the decided underdogs, so it was a Rocky v. Apollo Creed original,” he said.
“We actually held the lead in the first half until our quarterback, Seth Mayfield, was lost for the game with about a minute left in the half after an interception deep in their end,” Earwood said.
Granbury scored to go into halftime up 20-12 and went on to win the game.