The Marble Falls Mustangs kick off the 2023 football season against the Pflugerville Connally Cougars on Friday, Aug. 25, at Mustang Stadium. Staff photo by Nathan Bush
The Marble Falls Mustangs kick off the 2023 football season against the Pflugerville Connally Cougars at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive. You can listen to the game live on KBEY 103.9 FM Radio Picayune, at KBEYFM.com, or via the free KBEY mobile app. Pregame starts at 7 p.m.
The Mustangs are looking for redemption this year after posting a 2-8 overall record in 2022 and finishing the season on a seven-game losing streak. They went 0-5 in District 13-4A.
“We took our lumps last year, but throughout that process, we found out what kids were committed all the way to the end,” Mustangs head coach Brian Herman told KBEY 103.9 FM’s Ben Shields during an interview. “We’re starting with those kids and building around them.”
It was Herman’s worst season at Marble Falls — he took over the program in 2019 — but his team has been working diligently to avoid repeating last year’s mishaps.
“We did a lot of things,” he said. “A lot of the offseason was focused on trying to move past some of our previous mistakes and hurdles and understand that don’t let one thing become another thing. When you make a mistake, own it, move on, be accountable, but don’t let it get you down.”
One way the Mustangs tried to learn from their miscues was a book study of Brian Cane’s “The 10 Pillars of Mental Performance Mastery.”
“It was a great book study,” Herman said. “We spent from right after Thanksgiving all the way up until about mid-February. We met every week and read a few chapters each week and talked about it in big groups, small groups, and one-on-one situations.”
Herman is confident of his team’s cohesion heading into the season opener against the Cougars, a District 11-5A team that posted an 0-10 record in 2022.
“I feel like this group is a lot tighter than I’ve had in a while,” he said. “They like to be around each other. They spend a lot more time together both at school and on the field and outside of school. It just seems to be a much tighter group that seems to really care about one another and not so much about themselves.”
Last season, the Mustangs’ 52-7 season-opening win against the Cougars proved to be one of their easiest contests. Herman is less sure of what to expect from the Austin-area school heading into this contest following the departure of longtime Connally head coach Jason Cecil at the end of last season.
“It’s going to be a feeling-out process early because we don’t know how they’re going to line up to what we do,” he said.
Connally’s new lead man, Charles Burton, previously served as head coach of the Del Valle Cardinals before working as an assistant on the Lake Travis High School football staff for the past two seasons.
“I would expect a renewed energy and excitement with a new leader of their program,” Herman said.
Avoiding costly penalties is at the top of the Mustang coach’s wishlist heading into the game.
“If we’re sitting at first-and-15 versus second-and-4, that’s a big difference,” he said. “We want to stay in the second-and-medium range and third-and-short range as often as possible so that we can convert for first downs.”