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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: Marble Falls junior Jamie Castillo follows his blockers, who create a hole against the Lampasas Badgers. 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.

The final week of the high school regular season is upon us and the Highland Lakes has a contest of playoff implications, though every coach will say every game matters. But we’re going to start with that game because in my recent memory, only one game played in week 11 had a postseason berth on the line.

  1. The Burnet Bulldogs will head to Taylor in a winner-take-all contest for fourth place in District 13-4A Division I and the final postseason ticket. The Bulldogs are either battered or battle-tested, either beaten up or strong-willed, either crushed or stubborn depending on how the players and coaches view it. The Bulldogs look to me like the latter. A determined group will be on the sideline at Taylor Stadium ready to give it all they have. And the Ducks will require that because neither team will fold or break easily. The overall winner though are the fans who have a contest that truly matters during the final week of the regular season where each team controls its own destiny and doesn’t have to rely on someone else winning or losing. The last time that seemed to be the case was in 2007 when the Bulldogs beat the Marble Falls Mustangs 28-0 at Bulldog Field. Let’s see if this Burnet team can do the same in 2022.
  2. The Marble Falls Mustangs played with so much heart and determination against the Lampasas Badgers that it’s a difficult story to follow. The two teams played to a 14-14 half-time tie. Then the Badgers’ depth took over in the second half. Lampasas defensive coordinator Cory Warner, a Burnet graduate, didn’t seem to change the scheme much. But to say the Badgers picked up the intensity is an understatement. Depth is a challenge for these Mustangs. But make no mistake. If these players will tackle the offseason with the same mental focus and drive they displayed the last two weeks, Marble Falls will be better position to challenge for a playoff berth in 2023.
  3. The Faith Academy Flames added another district title to its trophy case when Round Rock Concordia beat Temple Holy Trinity 56-40 the afternoon of Oct. 29. That means Holy Trinity’s trip to Marble Falls Nov. 4 will be for pride since the Flames have secured the No. 1 seed out of the district and will host a playoff contest since they are the district champs. Before they could claim that, however, Faith had to outlast a motivated Round Rock Christian team Oct. 28. The Flames relied on numerous underclassmen and first-year varsity football players to earn a 38-32 road victory.
  4. The Smoking For Jesus Eagles also added a district championship thanks to outlasting Bulverde Gloria Deo Academy 36-34 Oct. 28. The Eagles needed numerous playmakers to come up big on defense and in special teams. While head coach Charles Frazier, Sr. is always proud of the accomplishments of the team, this district title might mean a little more because of the level of competition the Eagles faced this season and the amount of adversity they had to overcome. There’s no doubt the best six-man player in the region is senior Isaac Legier, who is known for his offensive prowess. But his interceptions ensured Smoking For Jesus was in prime position to win the game.
  5. The region’s best 11-man team, Llano, took a much-needed bye Oct. 28 and is looking to end the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. But first the Yellow Jackets must beat Ingram Tom Moore Nov. 4 that will be motivated to finish the regular season with victory to even its season record at 5-5. Is this a trap game? Don’t believe so. The Jackets are that much better and more importantly, that motivated to keep their record unblemished.
  6. Time to hand out some game balls. To Faith Academy freshman Michael Houy who entered the contest at quarterback and did the most important task for any player in that position — he didn’t cause any harm. Houy distributed the ball and kept his errors to a minimum. It also helped that his teammates made plays for him, communicated with him and helped his confidence grow.
  7. To Smoking For Jesus sophomore Benjamin Frazier, who made the game-sealing tackle off a punt on the last play of the game. Before that play, coach Frazier called a timeout and went over every detail of what needed to happen. The younger Frazier then did his part by using his speed and strength to ensure an Eagles win.
  8. While it’s an important week for Burnet football, the Burnet volleyball team also has a vital week. Now that the Lady Dawgs have completed an undefeated district campaign to repeat as champions, they’re starting the playoffs against Waco Robinson in a bi-district championship match at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, at Copperas Cove High School. Head coach Crystal Shipley said in early August the goal is to win the Class 4A Region III tournament en route to qualifying for the state tournament. That goal is in front of the Lady Dawgs, who have what it takes to get there.
  9. It’s also an important week for the Highland Lakes runners. The University Interscholastic League is hosting its cross country state meets at Round Rock’s Old Settler’s Park and will start with Class 4A Nov. 4. Burnet senior Hudson Bennett is on a mission to win the gold medal in the boys race, which is at 9 a.m. Sophomore teammate Victor Aviles also will be running as will freshman Asah Roy in the girls race at 8:30 a.m. Meanwhile the Marble Falls Mustangs, who finished as the Class 4A Region III runners-up, will be competing as a team at the state meet. The next day, Llano sophomore Ciara Hays will be the lone representative at Class 3A meet Saturday at 8:30 a.m. No disrespect to any coach out there, but I state here what I’ve said throughout the week. Cross country head coach Chris Schrader’s last two meets are his best coaching job since he joined the Marble Falls Independent School District. He has gotten everything out of these runners. Let’s see what is left in the tank from all of them.
  10. The basketball season is upon us, and it truly is the happiest time of the year for me. Look for District 24-4A girls teams to be more than extremely competitive. Every team in that district qualified for the playoffs a year ago. And these teams will require opponents to play their best every contest. I’ll have a preview on the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs this week, who tip off the season against Comal Davenport Friday, Nov. 4, before the football team finishes its season against the Wolves. Excitement doesn’t begin to describe my feelings for the area’s hoops teams, and I believe they’ll back up everything I write about each squad. Therefore, if they can back it up, it’s not hype but fact.

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