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Faith Academy football wins district opener in rematch against Waco Live Oak

CAPTION: Faith Academy junior Kade Shaw and the Flames hit the road and came back with a well-earned victory against Waco Live Oak Classical to begin district play. Photo by Stennis Shotts

The Faith Academy of Marble Falls football team’s revelations during the 54-36 win against Waco Live Oak Classical Oct. 7 wasn’t the new wrinkles on the offensive side or the new defense the Flames spent the last two week implementing.

It was seeing the players keep each other pumped up and enthusiastic throughout the contest, which is what head coach Stephen Shipley told the Flames (2-3, 1-0) was needed to earn victories the rest of the way.

“After a good week of practice, I felt we were going to have a better game,” Shipley said. “Are we going to eliminate turnovers and eliminate mistakes? We didn’t turn the ball over and we didn’t give up big plays. We ran more plays we haven’t run much and didn’t lose any fumbles. In the passing game, we had some deep balls that resulted in four touchdowns. It was definitely good to go to their place and win.”

This game featured the two teams that played each other for a state championship in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools in December 2021 where Live Oak prevailed 46-41.

Both squads entered this district opener wanting to begin with a win. But Faith showed its ability to adapt. Junior Cross Sanchez led the way thanks to accounting for five touchdowns: two as a rusher, two as a receiver and one as a quarterback. The two long touchdown passes were thrown by sophomore Carter Fromberg.

“I was pretty proud of Cross,” Shipley said. “He threw a touchdown to (senior) Jaydon Jones on a deep ball. Cross didn’t make a bad pass. He made good plays on defense as well. He was all over the field. He really came alive and had a different spark and a different look in his eyes. He had a good week of practice. I told him to relax and have fun, and he did.”

But the formations put the Falcons in a pickle. Sanchez and junior Kade Shaw lined up on the same side as receivers, which forced Live Oak to decide which was going to be covered by its best cover defensive back.

“Carter had been throwing the ball well, and I wanted him to have success,” Shipley said. “Cross and Kade are two of our best receivers. Their best cover guy was going with Kade.”

The absence of senior Elijah Blackington gave senior Jordan Tarver an opportunity to start, and he made the most of it as illustrated by a touchdown where he barreled his way to the end zone.

“It was a punishing run up the middle where he ran through tackles and got to the end zone,” the coach said.

He noted senior Will Lewis, sophomore Karter Van Gundy and freshman Michael Houy also played well.

“We subbed a lot of guys on defense,” Shipley said. “The defense was pretty solid. We recovered two fumbles.”

And Jones made all but one point after attempts, which are good for two points in six-man football. But his other important contributions were ensuring the Flames recovered their onside kick attempts to get extra possessions.

“He came in and played well,” Shipley said.

This win revealed much about the Flames that goes beyond their physical abilities and natural talent, he said.

“I told the boys I hope we’ve turned a corner,” he said. “This is the feeling and game we’ve been waiting for. We had more guys step up in leadership roles. They were being positive and picked each other up. We were having fun. We were picked to lose by two touchdowns. I love being in the underdog role. I told them ‘let’s go have fun and relax.'”

Faith welcomes Round Rock Concordia (4-2) in the home district opener and homecoming contest at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at Britton Field, 3151 RR 1431 East in Marble Falls. The Cardinals enjoyed a bye Oct. 7.

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