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Marble Falls football show improvement, readies for district play

CAPTION: Marble Falls seniors Jaime Castillo (left) and Gavin Hernandez celebrate Castillo’s touchdown that proved to be the difference in beating Fredericksburg Sept. 22. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The midway point of the Texas High School football season is here. After five weeks, the Marble Falls High School football team is 1-4 overall and enjoyed a bye last week.

The Mustangs’ lone win came against Fredericksburg 14-9 Sept. 22 that ended an 11-game losing streak dating back to the 28-21 loss to Kerrville Tivy in 2022.

Going into the season, coaches wanted to see improvement by the Mustangs each week, and they have even if the scoreboard hasn’t reflected it.

During the 40-14 loss to Pflugerville Connally (2-3, 0-1 District 11-5A Division II) in the season opener Aug. 25, Marble Falls fumbled the ball 11 times and lost less than half and had six personal fouls.

They cleaned up much of that during the 63-7 loss to Brownwood (5-0, District 2-4A Division I) Sept. 1. The Lions are a top 10 team in Class 4A and reeled off 35 points before the Mustangs scored their only touchdown on their last drive of the second quarter.

Marble Falls looked better against Killeen Chaparral (1-4, 0-1, District 11-5A Division II) though it lost 34-21 Sept. 8. The Mustangs led 7-6 after the first quarter and trailed the Bobcats 20-14 at the half. But Marble Falls won the coin toss and deferred. That proved invaluable as the Mustangs marched 62 yards for the touchdown highlighted by a nine-yard touchdown run by senior Jaime Castillo for the 21-20 lead. But the Bobcats responded with just under eight minutes left in the game. They scored on back-to-back possessions. The first was the result of forcing the Marble Falls offense to turn the ball over on downs when a 44-yard field goal sailed wide left. The second touchdown came when Chaparral recovered the pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff. In less than two minutes, the Bobcats led by two touchdowns.

Tivy (5-0, 1-0 District 13-5A Division II) proved to be a fantastic defensive team, fielding perhaps the best defense the Mustangs have faced all season. Marble Falls fumbled five times and lost three of them and the game ended on an 81-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown and gave the Anters a 34-0 victory. But Tivy led 14-0 at the half thanks to a stellar performance by the Mustangs’ defense.

“I see us improve in practice, and the scoreboard doesn’t show it,” Herman said. “We hadn’t put it all together yet. We want to focus on us, not anyone else. We want to focus on getting better every day.”

During the last two games, the Mustangs have been without its offensive breakout player – sophomore tailback Joaquin Aguilar. He is the speed to Castillo’s speed and strength, meaning Aguilar has the jets to speed away from tacklers. Aguilar sent a clear message on his first offensive play of the year, a 64-yard scamper to paydirt. He has at least a 19-yard game in three of the four contests he’s played in.

“We’re excited to get him back,” Herman said. “When he went out during the Tivy game, we had a significant dip. We’re hoping to get him back soon. I think he’s exceeded our expectations early in the year. Hopefully we’ll see more from him.”

Junior middle linebacker Noah Lyon is the team’s defensive breakout player.

“We knew he was good last year on the junior varsity when we moved him up,” the coach said. “He’s taken the next step. He’s seeing the field well, and he’s making lots of plays.”

Herman offered his definition of a smart player.

“A smart player to me is going to know his role and be able to handle adjustments when an adjustment is made,” he said. “He adapts and knows his role within game adjustments. A smart player is one who can manage his behavior.”

When thinking of an offensive player that fits that definition, fans don’t have to look too far down the roster for Castillo.

“Jaime knows his role and most everyone else’s,” Herman said. “He understands what we’re doing. He fits most of the description.”

Senior free safety Dax Murphy and junior defensive back Kole Becker are the defense’s smart players. That was on full display against Fredericksburg as the defense trotted back on the field for the final two minutes knowing the Billies had to go the length of the field to score a touchdown for the win. In short, they had to throw.

“They fly around with confidence,” Herman said. “It was a game plan that allowed them to play free and loose. They did it so well.”

As he thought about special teams, the units have been successful at converting a fake punt against Tivy and unsuccessful at converting a fake punt against Fredericksburg and the kickoff return team didn’t field a Connally onside kick that had a perfect bounce and allowed the Cougars to recover it and the pooch kick executed by Chaparral.

“Fredericksburg lined up differently on the fake punt,” Herman said. “Our kickoff returns have been fairly vanilla other than the pooch kick and the onside kick.”

The coach offered another category of player – persistent. Except he couldn’t say one Mustang was more than the others.

“The kids keep showing up,” he said. “Despite a rough start, the kids keep showing up. I think the kids want to do well. They’re good kids. They want to do do well. I want them to believe in the way we do things. And keep showing up.”

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