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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: Faith Academy senior Will Lewis and the Flames set a new school record for most points scored in a game and made statement before starting the 2022 playoffs. 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 2022 Texas High School football regular season is complete and some teams have earned the right to keep battling in what I believe is the toughest state to win a championship in the country. University Interscholastic League members must win six postseason contests to hoist a state title plaque. And while the private schools may not have to capture as many playoff victories, winning state is still significant because of the amount of work, determination and focus it takes to win. So let’s review what happened and try to make some sense out of it.

  1. Let’s start with what I thought was the game of the week — Burnet at Taylor. Mother Nature was a big part of this one as kickoff was delayed for two hours. Still she did decide to let it be played and what a contest it was. The winner finished fourth in District 13-4A Division I and moved on to face Boerne High for a bi-district championship. After seeing Taylor beat Marble Falls, I felt strongly that if this contest came down to one play, the Bulldogs would make it for the victory. But the Ducks’ 41-40 win didn’t come down to one play. Rather it was a series of missed Bulldog points starting with the missed extra point on the first score of the contest. That triggered three consecutive two-point attempt failures. And though the Bulldogs scored four points off their final two conversions, it wasn’t enough to overcome the seven points they left on the field. Add in a Burnet fumble Taylor recovered on its own 12-yard line, and the Ducks made enough plays to escape with the victory. Credit Taylor for playing very well at home, especially in the first half where it scored on all four possessions to build a 27-18 lead, and the Ducks never had a turnover, not even on downs. Burnet scored on three of its four possessions in the first half. But the misses will stay with the Bulldogs throughout the offseason, and my belief is it will drive them to have a better 2023.
  2. Marble Falls fans may not want to read this, but it remains true. The 49-7 loss to Davenport didn’t make or break the Mustangs season, though admittedly a win would have done a lot for the offseason. The Wolves had two interceptions and recovered two fumbles and the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs twice in the first half that led to Davenport earning a 35-0 advantage at the intermission. Marble Falls picked up the intensity in the third quarter, forcing a turnover on downs and recovering a fumble. The Mustangs also had another fumble recovering in the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t enough against the district runner-up.
  3. The Mustangs’ fortunes always came down to games against Burnet, Taylor and Lampasas, and they lost all three by at least two touchdowns. The killer for Marble Falls is they were within striking distance of all three at halftime. Burnet led 14-6 and Lampasas and the Mustangs were tied at 14-14. And though the Ducks led 28-19 at the half, Marble Falls scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter to trim the deficit to 28-26. One missed sack on Taylor senior quarterback Ryan Valdez allowed the Ducks’ first drive of the third stanza to continue that led to a touchdown. Valdez scored a touchdown with under a minute left in the game to make it look more lopsided than it was. Burnet junior Grant Jones was the best player on the field when Burnet visited Marble Falls. He scored a 95-yard touchdown on a kickoff return, a 20-yard touchdown when he reversed field on an end around the Mustangs had defended perfectly, and threw a long bomb that would have gone for a touchdown had the receiver not fumbled. Lampasas led 21-14 going into the third quarter and the Badgers finally decided to run the football and wear down the Mustangs’ defense for the 42-20 victory. The good news is Marble Falls was close and closing out opponents is something that is learned. In that sense, the slot-T offense is the perfect vehicle because it’s not a scheme — it’s an attitude and a mentality. And when those traits are aligned, the extraordinary can happen as witnessed in Brenham and against San Antonio Alamo Heights in 2020 and in 2021.
  4. One more note about this district. The Badgers finished third in district play and actually led Canyon Lake, the district champion, 23-7 in the third quarter before losing 34-30. That speaks volumes of the separation between the top three district squads and the bottom three. The Hawks beat Davenport 38-35. Davenport beat Lampasas 55-34.
  5. Llano, the Highland Lakes’ most complete team, fulfilled its quest for a 10-0 season thanks to beating Ingram 49-6. The defense recovered four turnovers and the offense did its part by building a lead and getting lots of athletes playing time so they could all enjoy one last home regular season win. Next up is Cotulla (6-4, 2-3 District 14-3A Division I fourth place) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at Barry Field in Hondo.
  6. Faith Academy of Marble Falls earned a big win against Temple Holy Trinity 119-70 in a contest that ended early in the fourth quarter thanks to the mercy rule. In the process, the Flames broke the program record for points scored in a game. The previous mark was 106 against Holy Trinity three years ago. Junior Cross Sanchez was spectacular, scoring 11 rushing touchdowns and passing for another. His commitment to following his blockers paid off immensely. Now the Flames turn their attention to Conroe Covenant, their first playoff opponent, that will visit Britton Field on the Faith campus at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.
  7. Let’s hand out some game balls. To Llano senior free safety Isaiah Bush who had six tackles and recovered a fumble during the Jackets’ win against Ingram. He is part of a defense that has 19 interceptions on the season and allowed an average of 9 points per district contest. Stingy doesn’t begin to describe it.
  8. To Faith Academy seniors Jordan Tarver and Will Lewis and to sophomore Carter Fromberg for their blocking during the Flames’ win against Holy Trinity. Fans will laugh at this, but Sanchez scoring 11 rushing touchdowns is no laughing matter (ask the Celtics). That doesn’t happen without blocking, no matter if football has six or 11 defenders.
  9. Cross country season has ended and the Highland Lakes continues to produce great runners. Burnet senior Hudson Bennett was third in the Class 4A state meet and sophomore Victor Aviles was 23rd, while the Marble Falls Mustangs were 10th out of 16 teams in the standings. Llano sophomore Ciara Hays was 43rd in the Class 3A girls two-mile race, clocking 13 minutes and 2.90 seconds. Faith Academy’s boys team was fourth and the girls were third at the Class 3A state meet of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Track season is going to be something else.
  10. The Burnet volleyball team is one win away from returning to the Class 4A Region III tournament. But first the Lady Dawgs will have to beat Salado, which shared the 2021 district championship with them. The match is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Copperas Cove High, 400 S. 25th.
  11. And a bonus — the Marble Falls girls basketball team earned a 44-16 win at Davenport Nov. 4 to begin the season 1-0. Next up is the home opener against Austin McCallum at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Max Copeland Gym.

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