CAPTION: Smoking For Jesus senior Jonathan Frazier and the Eagles earn their first win of the season in a high-scoring affair against Faith Academy of Marble Falls. Photo by Stennis Shotts
Welcome to this weekly column where readers will find a summary of sports across the region and the impressions left on this writer.
Each week allows for Highland Lakes sports fans to know more about their football teams and week three was no different. Here’s what I learned.
- The Burnet Bulldogs are better than their record indicates. Fans shouldn’t be fooled by the Bulldogs’ 1-2 start. Head coach Bryan Wood correctly noted the losses — to Llano and to Brownwood — came against two opponents who have all the ingredients to make deep runs in the playoffs. In many ways, the Yellow Jackets and Lions mirror each other: junior quarterbacks who are given run-pass options on plays, powerful offensive lines, the ability to advance the ball on the ground or in the air, and defenses that bring the heat and the pressure on every down. The Bulldogs have the tools to make the playoffs in 2022 if they don’t allow these losses to affect them mentally. Burnet’s greatest opponent right now isn’t who the Bulldogs are lined up against each Friday; it’s themselves in staying positive and continuing to believe they’re as good as anyone they face. That’s especially true in District 13-4A Division I. Burnet will get another test when it travels to face Giddings (1-2, District 12-4A Division II). The Buffaloes lost to Lago Vista 42-10 Sept. 9 and to Columbus 42-7 Aug. 26. Their win came against Jarrell 21-14 Sept. 2.
- Let’s stay in District 13-4A Division I and talk about the Marble Falls Mustangs, who escaped with a 22-15 win against Killeen Chaparral Sept. 9. Give them credit for tightening the ship when it mattered most. The Bobcats (0-3, District 11-5A Division II) scored their first touchdown then had a short kick on the initial kickoff the Mustangs didn’t call for a fair catch for, which made it a live ball that Chaparral recovered. The Bobcats scored on that possession to take a 12-7 lead. That’s when the Mustangs responded with a heavy dose of junior halfback Jamie Castillo who had three carries for 52 yards in an eight-play, 60-yard drive that ended when senior tailback Caleb Vidal dived for the two-yard touchdown and senior fullback Jasuel Ruiz added the two-point run for a 15-12 lead after three quarters. Chaparral tied the contest on a 32-yard field goal, the result of recovering another Marble Falls turnover. Again, the Mustangs responded thanks to a seven-play, 40-yard drive capped by Ruiz’s 12-yard touchdown on fourth-and-2 that gave Marble Falls a 22-15 advantage with 48 seconds left in the contest. The Marble Falls defense did the rest by forcing two incomplete passes and sacking the quarterback on third down to end the game. The bad news on the game-winning drive is the Mustangs had three false starts, five in the contest. Out of eight possessions, they punted once, fumbled twice, had a turnover on downs, and didn’t get the ball on the kickoff that cost them a ninth possession. Here’s the point: I believe the Mustangs will have to win some close games and this one illustrates that. Make no mistake though. The members of District 13-4A Division I will make opponents pay for self-inflicted mistakes such as false starts, motion and turnovers. Let’s credit the Mustangs for doing just enough to win and hope they improve in the final two games of the pre-district schedule against more experienced opponents. First up is Kerrville Tivy (1-2, District 13-5A Division II), at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept 16, at Mustang Stadium. The Antlers lost to Fredericksburg and Comal Davenport by identical 31-28 scores after beating Medina Valley 28-6 Aug. 26. The Mustangs travel to Fredericksburg (1-2, District 14-4A Division I) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23. The Billies lost to Comal Canyon Lake 6-0 Sept. 2 and to Salado 53-13 Aug. 26 before beating Tivy.
- Down the street from Mustang Stadium was what I called the Highland Lakes’ game of the week: Smoking For Jesus at Faith Academy. Few events in this contest surprised me. The Eagles’ speed and athleticism was on full display as well as the Flames’ refusal to go away quietly. In the end, Smoking For Jesus won 98-62. What did astonish me is that Smoking For Jesus entered this contest without a win this season. Therefore my curiosity was peaked in discovering which Eagles team stepped off the bus at Britton Field: the program that won two state titles as members of the Texas Christian Athletic League or the one that’s joined the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations. The Eagles played like a team that needed a victory in the worst way and didn’t stop until they got it. They scored on every offensive possession with four coming off Faith turnovers that totaled 16 touchdowns in the contest. And the best player on the field was senior quarterback Isaac Legier, who had an answer for every defensive formation. But it’s his mind and patience that impressed Faith head coach Stephen Shipley. Legier simply waited for the Flames to make an error and capitalized. Smoking For Jesus has a short week, traveling to face Bastrop Tribe at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.
- Just as Smoking For Jesus learned more about itself, so did Faith Academy. Junior Kade Shaw continues to wreck havoc on opponents because of his speed, great hands and athleticism. Most of the Flames’ touchdowns came on Shaw’s kick returns to paydirt. The Flames exited the field with some questions and clear answers that will help them during the season. This loss won’t define the Flames because Shipley won’t allow it. It is a learning tool that told coaches plenty. Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see how the Flames bounce back when they welcome San Antonio FEAST at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.
- The region’s hottest team made quick work of Austin Crockett. Llano won 57-13 thanks to junior quarterback Briggs Green, who completed 14 of 16 passes for 137 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Jackets led 28-0 after the first quarter. The powerful running game led by the best offensive line in the area blocked for eight rushers who combined for 46 carries for 358 yards and 3 scores. Junior Dusty Miller had 9 rushes for 99 yards and a touchdown, senior Carson Kuykendall had 10 carries for 91 yards and a score, and senior Miguel Hernandez had 7 rushes for 38 yards and a touchdown. The Jackets will get a real test when they welcome Coleman at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. The Bluecats (3-0, District 5-2A Division 1) are ranked in the top 10 in the state and have wins against Mason 7-6, Ballinger 48-0 and Brady 56-24.
- Time to hand out game balls. To Marble Falls junior halfback Jamie Castillo for his hard running on the Mustangs’ last two scoring drives. He carried multiple Bobcats — literally — as he gained 69 of his 77 yards during those drives. He showed the toughness, determination and desire to win Marble Falls is going to need if the Mustangs want to advance to the postseason.
- To Smoking for Jesus senior quarterback Isaac Legier who showed why he is among the elite split backs in six-man football. Winning at Britton Field isn’t easy. The Flames take great pride in playing at home. So when a visiting team leaves with a win, fans know it was well earned. Legier refused to let his team suffer its third consecutive loss. He is showing the leadership vital to the position and to that team. Let’s see if the Eagles turned the corner.
- To Llano junior quarterback Briggs Green. The Jackets’ running game has garnered plenty of attention thanks to averaging 409 yards. So defenses will key on Green in believing they can rattle the quarterback into errors. But he is responding by burning them with quick scores.
- To Faith Academy junior Kade Shaw, who keeps showing he is among the best in TAPPS. The Flames needed touchdowns and Shaw delivered. He remains the Flames’ most consistent player and invaluable on both sides of the ball.
- To Burnet senior quarterback Tanner O’Hair. O’Hair led an early charge that resulted in a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against Brownwood. The Lions’ depth was the difference in the outcome. But O’Hair exemplifies what being a Bulldog is all about in keeping the faith and continuing to fight.
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