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Marble Falls, Killeen Chaparral football meet in search of 1st win

CAPTION: Junior quarterback Noah Luckie (15) and the Marble Falls offense is looking to score more when the Mustangs take on Killeen Chaparral. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Marble Falls football team is traveling to play at Killeen Chaparral at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at Joseph L. Searles Stadium on the Chaparral campus, 4400 Chaparral Road in Killeen.

The Mustangs (0-2, District 13-4A Division I) and the Bobcats (0-2, District 11-5A Division II) also are searching for their first victory of 2023.

Marble Falls (0-2, District 13-4A Division I) lost to Brownwood 56-7, while Chaparral fell to Killeen Shoemaker 41-13. Both contests were played Sept. 1.

In the season opener, Chaparral lost to the Killeen Kangaroos 33-6 with the Bobcats’ only score coming from Kenneth Johnson on a 15-yard run.

Shoemaker rushed for 434 yards on 34 carries using six different ball carriers en route to the win. It completed 6 of 9 passes for 83 yards and a score.

“They’re still trying to figure out the pieces,” Mustangs head coach Brian Herman said of the Bobcats. “They’re a second-year school. They opened young, and now they’re a little bit older.”

The Bobcats, under the direction of head coach Alan Haire, operate the Slot-T offense, which is the Marble Falls offense. It’s a run-first scheme that uses misdirection to confuse the defense.

“They have speed, they just haven’t got it loose yet,” Herman said. “They have trouble navigating the line of scrimmage. They’ve played against more traditionally established programs in Killeen (High) and Shoemaker.”

Last year, Chaparral went 1-9 with its only win coming from Pflugerville Connally, which forfeited, in district play. Marble Falls prevailed 22-15.

Chaparral’s stadium is named after Joseph L. Searles, a Killeen High graduate, who played for Kansas State University and the NFL’s New York Giants. He was the first Black member of the New York Stock Exchange.

As for the loss to Brownwood, Herman pointed out the many positives. The Mustangs assembled two drives of seven minutes each. Each one ate up more than half a quarter. One was on the opening offensive drive of the contest. Marble Falls rushed for 108 yards on 35 carries. Herman pointed out

“I liked the way we started,” Herman said. “It wasn’t enough, it wasn’t long enough. Their defense is super physical. They do a heck of a job. They’re a top 10 (team in Class 4A) for a reason.”

Brownwood senior quarterback Ike Hall completed 9 of 11 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 55 yards and scores on three carries, all unofficial. Going into the game, Herman compared Hall to Texas Longhorns legend Vince Young.

“That quarterback is amazing,” he said. “We were outmatched. They’re a top 10 team in the state. They went 10-3 last year. They’re better this year.”

On Sept. 2, the Mustangs arrived on the Marble Falls campus to review the film and took notes of what worked and what didn’t. Among the other pluses were fewer penalties, turnovers and missed tackles. Herman said those were key areas of emphasis during week two practices. The coaching staff saw improvement in all three against the Lions, he said.

“We dropped the ball twice on bad snaps with two different quarterbacks,” he said. “We got to a game, and we were able to execute. We felt better from game one to game two.”

He noted his players had a tremendous practice Sept. 5, which is traditionally the heavy day. Mondays are typically the installation day and Tuesdays are when the players are more physical, look for particular tempos, and challenge each other to be better.

“We had a really good practice,” the coach said. “We got through our script for our heavy work day. It’s our big, long reps day. We got a lot done. It helps we have more numbers on the field and helps we have kids back. I feel a lot better than this time last week.”

As he reflected on what he saw from his players, Herman noted the Mustangs are using every available minute to make themselves better.

“I don’t think Brownwood is the kind of thing that will beat us twice,” Herman said. “We have eight weeks to get the pieces ready (for the start of district play). We’ve only done four. We still have a full month, and we’re only going to learn that much more in a month. We’re using the pre-season to figure out who we are.”

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