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After years of anticipation, six-man football fans will finally get the chance to see the Smoking for Jesus Christian Ministry School Eagles (0-2) take on the Faith Academy Flames (1-1). Kickoff is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at Faith Academy, 3151 RR 1431 in Marble Falls.

In previous years, scheduling the game was impossible due to restrictions placed on Smoking for Jesus by its former conference, the Texas Christian Athletic League. 

After winning a second consecutive state championship within the conference, head coach Charles Frazier decided to switch conferences, moving to the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations. Frazier opted for the change in hopes of playing more talented teams while also opening the door for a chance to play the Flames. 

The Eagles’ transition into their new conference hasn’t come without growing pains as they opened the season with two straight losses to Cherokee and Veritas Academy. It’s the worst beginning for a Smoking for Jesus football team since the program’s inaugural season in 2018.

While the mood in the locker room is different from past years due to the lack of early success, Frazier believes the game against Faith Academy presents a perfect opportunity for his kids to turn their season around.

“We’re really thinking about what it’s going to take to make this leap,” he said. “Our practices have been a lot more structured. The seriousness has kicked in big time.”

Even though the team hasn’t emerged victorious yet this season, several players continue to sit at the top of the leaderboard for multiple statistics.

Among the top performers this season for the Eagles is senior quarterback Isaac Legier. The seasoned dual-threat quarterback is currently averaging 285.5 all-purpose yards per game while posting a quarterback rating of 106.4.

To counter the Eagles dynamic offense, the Flames will look to their young core of sophomore Cross Sanchez and junior Kade Shaw. The team will also rely on senior Elijah Blackington to shoulder the load.

After opening the season with a 66-20 loss to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Spartans, the Flames turned it around last week in a 55-8 rout of the McDade Bulldogs. 

Faith Academy will need to hold on to that momentum to stave off an Eagles program hungry for its first win of the season.

“(The Smoking for Jesus players are) in a place they haven’t been in a while,” Frazier said. “They are definitely pumped and ready to get after it. They want to restate their claim.”

nathan@thepicayune.com