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Marble Falls Faith loses to St. Stephens in season opener

Faith Academy’s Kade Shaw uses his speed and quickness to elude the Austin St. Stephens defense during the Flames’ loss Aug. 26. Photo by Stennis Shotts

The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team lost to Austin St. Stephens 66-20 Aug. 26 to begin the 2022 season.

“They didn’t do anything different than what we game-planned for,” Faith head coach Stephen Shipley said. “Our kids were running around with their eyes big almost in shock. They’re trying to catch up on the speed of the game, and they forgot their assignments and what they’re supposed to be doing. Most six-man teams we play have athletes (playing on offense and defense like us). We’re not in as good of shape (conditioning).”

The Spartans, who went 11-0 in 2021, used a slew of players of get into the end zone, including Darell Houston, who scored three of their nine touchdowns.

Houston had seven rushes for 52 yards and two scores and caught three passes for 108 yards that included a 52-yard touchdown pass from Jack Mabley. Mabley completed 5 of 6 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns.

St. Stephens built a 50-20 half-time lead thanks to its defense catching an interception with 14 seconds left in the second quarter. Mabley needed nine seconds to score the touchdown when he found Dennis Wilkenson for a 60-yard bomb. The Spartans had seven offensive possessions in the first half that all ended in touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Flames suffered four interceptions during the contest, including one that Wilkenson returned for about a 30-yard touchdown that ended the contest. Wilkenson had three interceptions.

Because the Spartans had 34 players on their roster, they had athletes who played on one side of the ball. Faith’s roster of 20 meant some players had to play on both sides. That included Cross Sanchez and Kade Shaw. Both tracked down ball carriers on the defensive side and displayed great chemistry on the offensive side. Sanchez completed four of eight passes for 64 yards and had eight rushes for 51 yards including a 50-yard touchdown where he zig-zagged his way to paydirt. Shaw had six rushes for 54 yards and caught seven passes for 138 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown from Carter Fromberg.

The coach said that center Ian Smiles, Fromberg, Sanchez and Shaw’s play offensively were among the positives he saw.

“Sometimes Kade got wide open, and we didn’t get the ball to him. He played both ways the whole game,” he said. “Ian had good snaps all night, and he’s willing to do the work to get better. Carter made some good deep-ball throws.”

He also singled out some defensive players who pleased him.

“We saw some guys trying to get to the ball,” the coach said. “Jordan Tarver was fighting all night to get to the backfield. Cross made some plays at defensive end. Everybody’s effort was there; we just have to correct our mistakes.”

Shipley noted the challenge for the Flames now is to carve their own legacy in the program’s history now that nine players graduated in May.

“We’re riding on things we did last year,” he said. “Everybody on the field (Aug. 26) with the exception of Elijah (Blackington) were on the junior varsity last season or were apart of our varsity (but didn’t play big roles). They’ve gone straight from the JV to one of the top six-man teams in the state. They’re getting a dose of it real quick. We’re not that team last year. We have to do what we can do with our capabilities.”

The Flames will welcome McDade at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, to Britton Field, 3151 RR 1431 East in Marble Falls.

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