Chiefs Keep Jackets in Downward Spirial

The Yellowjackets just are not getting the job done.  The 38-0 halftime was as bad as I have seen a Jacket score since the Bi-District contest in 2001 in which eventual State Champion La Grange whipped the Jackets 56-0.  This game was a complete let down, as the defense played as poorly as the offense.  But to keep things in proper prospective, the Jackets did manage 280 yards of offense, clearly 3 times more this Friday night as compared to last week against Fredericksburg.

A 63 yard interception return for a TD pushed the Lake View Chiefs to a 21-0 lead, and the visitors were never in a worry over losing the lead.  The final 45-7 score is dis-heartning…and it must stop.

This may be crazy, but I think Brady Bulldogs has now beaten the Jackets 3 weeks in a row.  The 20-17 two OT loss to the Bulldogs back on September 12 looks to be haunting.  Llano came so close, and the team could have gone either direction.  David Forrester’s Field Goal in second OT looked like the winner, only to have the game jerked away one play later.  Llano has not recovered.  The two past weeks Llano has been outscored 75-7, and the physicality has been absent.  Gang tackling in the first three games was tremendous.  A couple of times last night I saw Jackets letting up before they got to the pile.  When you are behind you play more cautious…only natural.  You don’t want to make bad things get worse.  But I think maybe we have lost our highest gear.

I have got to call on our seniors.  This is your season.  This is your last chance.  And I truly believe Llano can beat Salado this week…play close to Wimberley in week 8, lay off a week, and then win two of three to finish either 2nd or 3rd in District.  You certainly are not the most talented Yellowjacket team in recent memory, but you are Yellowjackets.  Teams of our past have been worse,  and done better.  You can too, with senior leadership taking over this team, and knowing the goals you set for yourself back in August are still obtainable.

Let’s build on the positives.  Good kicking game…good punter…excellent coverage on all kicking aspects of the game…appears we have a good medium passing game. The 12 passes completed against Lake View average nearly 13 yards per play.  Very good.  6 were for more than 15 each.  That is winning football.  Yelvington and Layton can catch the football, and really have taken up slack with loss of Bauman.  The offense was better, the offensive line much better.  Have to hold your blocks 1//2 second longer on run and pass plays.  To do that is nothing but extra effort.  You can do it. 1/’2 second!!!

Defense.  Find your kick butt again.  Gang tackle.  Make sure you take full responsibility for your job…Be aggressive…and play like you did against Bangs.

Seniors…play like this is your last season…the last time you will have to be a Llano Fighting Yellowjacket.  You start with leadership…you beat Salado…and you make sure you make the State Playoffs.  You will never regret playing harder.

Llano 31   Salado 14

 

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Billies Out Muscle Jackets 30-0

The offensive woes of the Llano Yellowjacket offense continued Friday night in Fredericksburg as the final score of 30-0 indicate.

Certainly not to be forgotten in all of this is the Jackets strongest weapon, Jalen Bauman went out in the first Jacket series in what appeared to be a bad leg injury.  He did not go back on the field, and perhaps took with him piece of the offense that this night was not able to replace.

Llano worked hard at throwing the ball.  I had senior quarterback Holden Simpson 6 of 7 the first half, but only 46 yards.  The second half 3 of 13 and 14 yards was not enough to get the offense even close to a score.  Two interceptions in the third quarter also was a deal killer.

While like other fans, I get frustrated with Holden, or senior running back Aaron Moss and Trevor Penny or wide out senior Kasin Riley, I need to remember all success lies in the effort and success of the offensive line.  When Aaron and Trevor and John Heflin are being tackled in the backfield, someone is not keeping their eyes open.  Yes, it hurts to have three year starter Colton Center out with a broken foot, but it takes five or six blocking on every play.  It just is not happening on the offensive line.  Seniors, step up.  Take responsibility, and then come together as a unit.  You have six weeks to make memories.

When the offense is not moving very much, you have a defense playing very well.  The 30 points is very misleading.  The Jacket defense held the Billies to 3.3 average per snap in the first half….easily winning football.  Wyatt Bauman had his best game.  Austin Miller is getting better every game.  Still so proud of the secondary.  Not just Tommy Yelvington with two more interceptions, but Dorian Green was very good.  Wyatt Casey is special.  And junior leader Cody Miller is a great open field tackler. Clayton Master and Ray Dixon had good games.  Sophomore John Heflin plays a lot bigger than his 135 pounds.  And do like the emerging of senior Colton Ekstrom playing hard in the defensive line.  Airon Layton is surprising all with lots of good plays.  He is very good on special teams.  Kasin Riley lead the team in receiving with 5 catches, he may be better on defense.  The steady Lance Reven at linebacker and senior Dalton Dewveall make for a very strong unit.

What may be confusing is that many of these players playing very good on defense are not doing as well on offense.  Most in fact play both ways.  I will say this….I really like the play of the defense, and they can win games for you too.  But the offense must pick it up.  Llano has not an easy game left on the schedule.  With 2-3 touchdowns a game, the Jackets can still make the playoffs.  The defense will keep it close.  But on both sides of the ball, the Jackets must play at 100%

Llano plays Lakeview next Friday night.  Hall of Famers Jerry Butler and David Ross from the class of 1955 asked that I inform Art that Llano has played Lakeview in the past, as they did in 1954!  I will also check my records to make sure we have that game recorded, but Jerry did admit they lost.  Lakeview made the playoffs last year, and are in 5-AAAA.  Old Angelo State Ram  and Fredericksburg Billie standout is their coach, Doug Kuhlmann.  This is a very important game for Llano.  Playing a bigger school and the chance to turn the ship around begins this week.  Llano can beat Lakeview.  But it will take a supreme effort.

Llano 21   Lakeview 14.

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‘Ole Brady Haunts Yellowjackets in Two OTs

The loss to Brady in two sets of offensive overtimes was shocking and hurtful.  That is how I felt taking one on the chin from an old nemesis in our neighbors to the Northwest.  Playing toe to toe for 4 full quarters with the score at 7-7, but one small error at the end left the score at 20-17, Brady.

Haunting is the only word that comes to mind.  And I leave out the players name on the last play of the game for a simple reason, I did not catch who it was.  On the last play of the game, Llano lead 17-14.  Senior quarterback Joe Scott Pace rolled out and threw to a receiver out in the right flat.  Out of the corner of my eye, a Jacket defender was closing fast.  I knew it was a Jacket interception.  Timing looked perfect, felt perfect.  But the ball was a finger tip higher than Llano’s defender.  Going for the ball is not what Llano has seen in recent years.  Usually Llano defenders have played it safe….waited for the receiver to catch the ball, or just tried to make the tackle.  The Llano secondary now is playing the football.  And I love it.  Proof by the Jackets picking off 3 Pace passes this week, and now 8 for the season.  It has risk involved.  And maybe the last play of the game Friday night may have been different had our defender been more careful.  But for my money, give me that defender of Llano’s every play this season.  He is a warrior.  And I want him on my team.  If you are going to loss, loss by trying to win.  Play to win every play.

Overall, the defense put in a good ball game.  Allowed 348 yards, but only 288 in regulation play.  You will usually win holding a team under 300 offense.  Needless to say, junior Cody Miller had another remarkable game, picking up a loose ball and returning it nearly 50 yards for Llano’s first score, and then picking off two more passes, giving the young safety four on the season.  Senior Lance Reven at linebacker is just so solid.  Jalen Bauman, freshman Ray Dixon, and senior Trevor Penny had best games according the  stats.  Junior Juan Mungia has really stepped up his game.  Stetson Watson  is a great pass rusher. Hope to keep seeing Cody Harp keep getting better…could really be a force on defense.  And wrote down Clayton Masters’ # on several good plays.  The secondary is the most improved, with senior Aaron Moss, Tommy Yelvington, Casey Wyatt, and Dorian Green all having good games against a quarterback that was pretty good.  Pace is a senior.

The offense took a step back.  Moss found few holes in the running game, while Penny had 8 carries for 46 years.  The Jackets were unable to get the ball to Jalen in the open field.  Could not find Kasin Riley enough either.  Love the tall rangy tight end and makes a good target in the short passing game.  But only 197 yards of total offense will not get you much.  Four three and outs, and three intercepted passes made for a long night.  Don’t know if senior quarterback Holden Simpson was under more pass rush than usual, as three year starter Colton Center is out 4-6 weeks  with a broken foot.  Horrible set back for the offense.  But before this weeks game, and going back to last season, Holden is right at a 70% accuracy in passing.  Fully expect him back in the groove against Fredericksburg this week.

Must say again how comforting it is to have senior David Forrister kicking extra points, and his 27 yard field goal in over time put the Jackets up 17-14.  On special teams, Airon Layton is always close to the football.  He and center Colin Mayne work hard to get downfield…nothing but hustle and wanting to play hard.

Can’t worry about Brady.  Fredericksburg will be a big test.  The Billies were 10-2 last season and expect good things by feasting on the Yellowjackets.  Llano needs to rebound.  Another road trip usually means another Jacket win.  Llano has always like to travel for some odd reason.   Llano 28-  Billie 21.

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Bangs Sees Llano’s Best

The thunder being heard Friday night in Bangs, Texas was actually the anger of the Llano Yellowjackets.  The Jackets showed up big time.  Playing Bangs is a tough game always.  Last week Bangs beat a pretty good Ballinger team.  Llano lost in an insulting way to Wall.  All play off teams in 2013.  The 41-21 win on the road was big, but only big if it creates the right kind of confidence, and the right path this week in playing Brady, picked to take second place in their district race.  Llano had the kind of game every Coach hopes will happen coming after a loss.  Llano that got mad at itself, and proved it in the following week.

Bangs should not have kicked off to Llano.  Senior quarterback Holden Simpson took his team on a 16 play opening drive only to have it stall out at the 11 yardline.  16 plays!  Five first downs, Jalen Bauman catching 3 passes for 36 yards, Aaron Moss running 8 times for 39 yards, a catch by senior Tommy Yelvington for 5, and all this took 7:23 off the clock.

While the offense was taking control of the yardage side, the defense played maybe its best game in the Slaughter era.  Three and out on the first series for Bangs.  Lead by senior linebacker Lance Reven, the Jackets had 4, 5, and 6 players in on every tackle.  Senior Colton Ekstrom was great.  Senior Steton Watson saw  his best game as a varsity player.  Junior Dorian Green was always close to the ball. Austin Miller is getting in on more good plays each week ands improving. The secondary may be the most improved.  The guys with the shortest memories were at their best …have not taken the time to look up when Llano last had 4 interceptions, but it has not happened many times at all.  Junior Cody Miller picks off two,  sophomore John Heflin takes one, as does senior Yelvington.  While still giving up a long play here and there, these guys must get ready for the next play.  It is a mental giant issue.  Some can do it, some can’t.  Confidence in this secondary has surged for me.  Senior Moss, junior Wyatt Casey, and junior Dalton Dewveall round out a very solid group of over achieving Yellowjackets.

Llano and Bangs were tied at halftime, 14-14.  Llano held another three and out after the kickoff, and Simpson again put together a 10 play scoring drive, with Moss picking up 46 yards on five runs, Mr. Do Everything Trevor Penny carrying the football, and the final 8 yards with a Simpson to Bauman TD.  Holden’s 4 TD passes places him with several other Yellowjacket quarterbacks who stand in a tie in the record book in second place.  Some pretty good company.  Holden’s 246 yards passing  puts him in 17th most yards in a single game passing.  And Bauman’s 117 yards receiving is the 14 best game in history, but his 9 catches put him tied with others in a single game at 4th place.

Llano never let up.  But in my mind, few things happen good, unless your offensive line is doing more than just their assignment.  Holden, Moss, Penny and Simpson get the fame, the lineman get the respect in the dressing room.  Lead by seniors Cody Harp,  Colin Mayne, Harley Smith, Watson, and Clayton Masters, along with junior and three year starter Colton Center, juniors Stratt Stiles, Juan Mungia  and Jose Arrendondo and freshman Ray Dixon. Junior Luke Snitkin could really develop into a very good player.  He seems to be in the right place so many times. These young men made Friday night a success.

Am liking the special teams.  Seniors Kasin Riley is solid, and a good tackler and caught a 76 yard TD pass, along with doing the punting.   David Forrister is automatic.  And you can bet Airon Layton and Penny are the first ones downfield on kicks.  Great hustle.

Llano’s defense held Bangs to 275 yards of offense.  Great effort by all.

We play Brady this week.  At one time in history, that was all that had to be said.  I will try to put up an old article I wrote several years ago about Brady.  Maybe by end of this week

Llano 35   Brady 14

 

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Long Night Against Wall Hawks

The Llano Yellowjacket’s opening game of 2014 was at best, a disappointment.  The thing to remember here is that we have 9 games to make a season still successful.  Wall, ranked # 3 in the State in 3-AAA, showed why they are now 16-1 over the past 17 games.  Speed, speed, and quick.  Maybe not the best matchup for Llano, but give the green and white some deserved credit, they are very good.

The 54-21 score was a game of two halves.  Llano was not competitive in the first half, and got much better and serious in the second half. So, lets concentrate on the second half.

Senior Llano quarterback Holden Simpson began the half by completing 7 straight passes and two TD passes, before an incompletion at the end of the quarter.  Completions to Jalen Bauman, Tommy Yelvington, senior Lance Reven, junior Dorian Green and senior Kasin Riley….the offense was clicking…the offensive line of Jose Arredondo, Colton Center, senior Colin Mayne, Ray Dixon, and Cody Harp fired out on the defense, instead of waiting to be hit.  And senior Aaron Moss, with Trevor Penny running hard in the backfield.  It was all working, and then the fourth quarter was  some good, and more less good.

But what I saw, I actually liked.  Llano is not going to be a bad football team.  The seniors have pride.  The skill level is lacking, but the Jackets can pull together and make every single play a better one than the last.  And for that to happen, takes senior leadership.  Reven, Bauman, and Holden can keep this team together.  I have seen teams fall apart after a few early season losses, and by midseason, no one cares.  But the last time that happened was 15 years ago.  My memory tells me 4 seniors quit mid season.  There are no quiters on the 2014 team.  and the goal of being the first Jacket team to make the state playoffs in 4-AAAA football is still very viable.

Had Llano played the first quarter as they did the 3rd quarter, Llano would have been very proud Saturday morning when they woke up.  Now, they go back to work.

The defense knows they must cover better, although covering all everything #3 Kris Gutierrez will be tough for the best.  Llano maybe was not ready for that kind of speed and quickness in one great player.  Someone after the game said it was hard to keep up with where the football was.  No problem with that.  Just keep up with jersey #3 and you could bet the football was close.

On defense, Arredondo, and Penny played well.  Penny, all 145 pounds, plays down lineman, running back, and runs back kickoffs. Moss and Yelvington will get more confidence as the season moves on from their secondary positions.  Bauman was good.  Reven was strong, recovering a fumble. Junior Cody Miller is going to be good.  Really like freshman starter, Ray Dixon.  If he stays focused, and stays serious, he could be special.  I liked the play of Wyatt Bauman.  And really feel comfortable with senior David Forrister handling our kicking game.  And look for senior Colton Elstrom to be important to this team.

Llano…forget Wall.  Don’t let them beat you again this week too.  You will match up well with Bangs.  You can beat Bangs.  Start turning the corner now.  It is the most important game you have ever played up to this moment.

Llano 28   Bangs 12

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2014: Something New, Something Old

The excitement back in early February is one classic tale.  Be careful what you wish for.   The Llano Yellowjackets have been buried in a 3AAA district for decades that has clamed state championships by Bandera, Liberty Hill, Gatesville, Wimberley and state finalist in recent years with Burnet and Brownwood.  There were no easy weeks, yet the 2013 team made the playoffs by beating both Gatesville and Brownwood, a year 20 years from now “will go down in infamy.”  Llano as always, shows up to play.  Llano is not taken for granted on anyones schedule.  The little train that could has left powers in the dust for over 4o years.  That reputation today far exceeds any great coaching dynasties.  It is all about the character of our kids.

A quick reminder;  In 1973 the Yellowjackets beat #2 ranked Bastrop in a bi-district contest 7-0.  Llano beat West Lake the first two years they played.  Llano beat an undefeated and #1 ranked team in Central Texas, Leander in a snow storm, I think the score was 34-0.  And as recent as 2003 beat a good Wimberley team  when Llano was ended a 3-7 season.  Take the Jackets lightly, and our kids will smell blood.

The UIL has tried to rearrange the schools to make it more fair.  Llano has been playing many schools with double Llano’s enrollment.  Llano, at 496 kids in high school, move to 13-4A.  All school move up  an “A”, as now there is a 6-A.  Llano gets Hondo (592), Lytle (520), Geronimo Navarro (513), And Wimberley (673) in our district.  Navarro has given Wimberley fits the past few years.  Every team in 13-4A made the state playoffs in 2013.  Four will make the playoffs this season.

The Jacket’s pre-district schedule looks like it could have been from the 1960s’.  Brady, Lakeview, and Fredericksburg.  Throw in 15-1 from last season Wall, and Bangs and Salado.  There is not an easy team to play on Friday nights.

Llano is blessed with great young coaches.  These guys load up in the mornings and help with the junior high 7th and 8th grade teams.  The whole staff helps each other.  Few times have I seen more togetherness, and focus for what is best for all teams that right now.  Head Coach Craig Slaughter is athletic director also.  He cares for every single program, and helps in all phases when there is need.  Another reason our Jackets will be competitive in every game.

After the Sonora scrimmage this week, we will look at who plays where, and how do we beat state finalist Wall in Llano on August 29th.

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2014 Llano Varsity Football Schedule

Aug.15   Burnet Scrimmage

Aug.22   At Sonora Scrimmage

Regular Season:

August 29   Wall, here      7:30 PM

Sept. 5    @ Bangs             7:30 PM

Sept. 12      Brady here     7:30 PM

Sept. 19   @ Fredericksburg   7:30 PM

Sept. 26  S.A. Lakeview    7:30 PM

Oct. 3       @ Salado          7:30 PM

Oct.10     @ Wimberley    7:30 PM

Oct. 17th      OPEN

Oct 24         Lytle               7:30 PM

Oct. 31    @ Hondo           7:30 PM

Nov. 7     Navarro             7:30 PM

 

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