CAPTION: Marble Falls senior defensive lineman Mike Marichalar catches the football as the Billies fumble while attempting to score on fourth-and goal from the Mustangs’ one-yard line. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Marble Falls High School football team defeated Fredericksburg 14-9 Sept. 22 for its first win of the 2023 season.
The Mustangs (1-4, District 13-4A Division I) will take a bye next week.
Head coach Brian Herman congratulated his players for the win after the postgame handshakes.
“You found a way to get the W,” he said.
Herman noted he wasn’t proud of how he reacted following the win against Killeen Chaparral in 2022.
“Our last W was homecoming last year,” he said. “I regretted that for more than a year. I took away the joy of a victory. I took for granted more victories were coming. I robbed the seniors of the joy.”
But not a year later. Herman appreciated the efforts of a fantastic Mustang defensive performance as much as the fans.
Out of 10 Billies’ (05, District 14-4A Division I) possessions, two ended in turnovers on downs and three were interceptions.
The first was by junior defensive back Kole Becker, who ran to the end zone from about 33 yards out. Senior Issac Larranaga scored the extra point to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
The Billies then drove 54 yards in 11plays to the Marble Falls’ three-yard line. But the drive stalled when the Mustangs held on fourth-and-3.
The Mustangs responded with a 13-play drive and had first-and-10 on the Fredericksburg 42-yard line. But a delay of game penalty on first down moved them backward, followed by a fumble, no gain on the next play, and a four-yard run on third-and-17. The Mustangs punted.
Again Fredericksburg drove 12 plays and had first-and-goal from the Marble Falls six-yard line. The drive stalled on fourth-and-goal when Marble Falls stopped the Billies on its one-yard line and senior defensive lineman Mike Marichalar came out of the pile with the ball.
After a Marble Falls punt, sophomore defensive back C.J. Alexander caught an interception and ran about 25 yards. But a penalty against the Billies moved the ball to the Fredericksburg 20 with 2 minutes and 9 seconds left in the half. The five-play drive finished in 81 seconds when senior Jaime Castillo scored on the six-yard run for the 14-0 advantage at the half.
Marble Falls received the opening kickoff to start the third quarter but lined up to punt when a high snap on fourth down sailed over the punter’s head. He was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Fredericksburg drove 57 yards for the touchdown thanks to a 24-yard pass to senior receiver Asher Goehmann from junior quarterback Brooks Immel to trim the deficit to 14-9.
Possessions ended in punts and turnovers on downs the rest of the third quarter. And though the Mustangs’ first drive of the fourth quarter ended in a punt, it took 5 minutes to complete.
Two plays later, the Marble Falls offense got the ball back thanks to an interception by senior Yoel Gutierrez.
The Mustangs took over at the Fredericksburg 24 and had fourth-and-2 at the 16-yard line when Herman called a timeout.
“Half the staff said ‘Play smart and kick the field goal,'” he recalled hearing. “But the kids said, ‘We want this. We want the first down and to ice the game.” They have to have things, to know how to finish and close it out.”
And though the drive ended in a fumble, Herman said the belief the Mustangs would finally get a win never waivered.
“On fourth down before the penalty, we were already sending the offense,” Herman said. “But we were called for defensive holding. The defense played lights out. They did everything they had to do. They put up seven (points) and gave up seven. I was proud of them.”
He was simplistic in his explanation of the interceptions.
“We were in the right place,” he said. “It was a good night for us. They did exactly what we asked them to do.”
Offensively, coaches decided to simplify the playbook. Herman noted a lack of options in personnel was the reason why.
“We had kids who hadn’t had enough repetitions,” Herman said. “We cut it down to 25 percent. That allows us to … play faster without thinking. If we’re thinking, we’re not playing fast. We had a whole new backfield, so every position had been shuffled. Everybody was in a new role or position.”
Castillo led with 24 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, all unofficial.
Herman said the victory gives the Mustangs a great feeling as they spend the next two weeks getting ready to welcome Fischer Canyon Lake at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6.
“We can win a game,” he said. “It’s the result of a great week of preparation. Your preparation allowed you to win.”
The Mustangs led Fredericksburg 14-0 at the half.
The Mustangs couldn’t have started better.
Junior defensive back Kole Becker intercepted a Billies pass on their first attempt of the game and ran it back about 33 yards for the touchdown. Senior Issac Larranaga added the extra point for the 7-0 advantage 46 seconds into the contest.
Becker’s play was the first of many outstanding defensive plays throughout the first half. The Mustangs forced two turnovers on downs on their own 3- and 1-yard lines.
Meanwhile sophomore defensive back CJ Alexander caught another interception and ran it to the Fredericksburg 35. But a personal foul moved the ball to the Billies’ 20.
Seniors Jaime Castillo and Dax Murphy and Larranaga did the rest. Needing five plays and only 81 seconds to score, Castillo bullied his way to the end zone from six yards out for the 14-0 lead.
Marble Falls had 101 yards of total offense, all on the ground, all unofficial. Fredericksburg had 45 yards on the ground and 84 yards in the air for 129 yards of total offense.
CAPTION: Marble Falls junior defensive end Kole Becker (right) catches the ball for an interception and follows senior defensive back Jaime Castillo to the end zone. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro