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Marble Falls football uses bye week to ‘refocus, refine’ and rest for district campaign

CAPTION: Marble Falls senior Jaime Castillo is difficult to stop, especially when he is near the goal line for a touchdown. He completes this short run for a six-yard touchdown against Fredericksburg. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Most every member of District 13-4A Division I football is taking a bye Friday, Sept. 29, including the Burnet and Marble Falls high school programs.

That means the Mustangs (1-4) have two weeks to prepare for their district home opener against Fischer Canyon Lake (1-4).

“Canyon Lake is a really good program,” he said. “Their record isn’t indicative of how good they are. We are in district and now no holds bar.”

The Hawks’ only win was against Fredericksburg 52-43 Sept. 1. They lost to state-ranked Wimberley 60-6 Aug. 25, Boerne Champion 42-20 Sept. 8, San Antonio Veterans Memorial 50-42 Sept. 15 and San Antonio East Central 58-16 Sept. 21.

“Both sides of the ball are similar to us,” Herman said, pointing out the Hawks also utilize the Slot-T offense. “The nice thing about Canyon Lake is it gives us two weeks of good on good.”

And he feels the same way about his team and their record.

“We’ve gotten more experienced in some things in the four games and into the fifth game at what gives us the best chance to be successful. We have this week and next week to iron to those things out.”

One challenge for the Mustangs is their ability to finish offensive drives. Herman noted the unit has been able to string together multiple plays in a drive by averaging 3 yards play.

“There are times when we look like gang busters,” he said. “We’ll have seven to 12 plays. Then we’ll have a hiccup.”

Those hiccups, whether they’re penalties, bobbled snaps, fumbles or missed blocks, have Marble Falls off schedule and makes it difficult to overcome them.

“We have negative plays for losing focus on execution,” he said. “That’s the stuff that’s plagued us this year. And they’ve been head scratching. Those moments have been head scratching at times. We look like we can’t be stopped. And then on fourth down, we have to make a decision. We have to stay ahead of the sticks.”

The penalties, Herman pointed out, aren’t limited to the offensive side. Opponents that need a first down have used a hard count to their advantage.

“On fourth down, we’ve jumped offsides,” he said. “That’s a lack of focus.”

Still, there’s no denying how solid the unit looked during the 14-9 win against Fredericksburg Sept. 22, the coach said, pointing out the three interceptions — one of which was returned for a touchdown by junior defensive back Kole Becker — and the two turnovers on downs where the Mustangs stopped the Billies on the Marble Falls one- and three-yard lines.

“We stiffened and we’re able to finish drives better than we did offensively,” Herman said. “It was a defensive battle.”

Rest was at the top of the list at the beginning of this week. Players were given the weekend off and didn’t have an early morning practice Sept. 25. They did participate in a weight-lifting session during the athletic period.

Coaches at a meeting that afternoon to finalize what the players would do each day. That included practices in pads on Sept. 26-28 complete with film sessions and meetings.

“We’re fixing fundamentals,” Herman said. “I thought our tackling has improved over the last couple of games. I’m not panicked or discouraged. ”

The most important part of the week, Herman noted, was getting healthy.

“We wanted them to heal up, refine and reboot,” he said. “Take a deep breath and get ready to go.”

As for the rest of the district, Herman said he hasn’t peeked too far ahead.

“All I can focus on is our kids,” he said. “That’s proven to be a big enough challenge. It really doesn’t matter. I want to prepare our kids and put us in the best position regardless of who the opponent is. We’ve been trying too hard to manage them here and there. We have to get our best kids on the field as much as possible.”

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CAPTION: The Marble Falls defense that includes defensive lineman senior defensive lineman Mike Marichalar forced the Fredericksburg Billies into two turnovers on downs, including this one when junior running back Luke Harkleroad didn’t score from the Mustangs three-yard line. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

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