#5 Ranked Wall Still Tough

Playing the #5 ranked 3AAA team in the state on their home field was to be no easy task.  The Jackets were not fooled into thinking it would be, especially after the 54-21 beat down at Jacket Stadium in 2014, and the Hawks going on to a strong 11-2 season. So being prepared was good advice.   The 28-13 final score in Wall Friday night proved all of the above correct.  Wall’s ranking is accurate.  Playing at Wall with game officials certainly more familiar with the green and white.  And Llano was prepared.  Take away 5 plays and the score could have been reversed.  The Jackets are a different team from 2014, and only good things will happen over the next few weeks.

This team has one hard task, and that is to get to the point where it trusts itself.  The offensive line considered the Jackets strongest unit coming into this season, played good…not great.  What they must learn in the trust department is knowing if they hold a block just for a 1/10 of a second longer, that sophomore Mason Greenwood will hit the opening and make yardage. ( 17 carries and 93 yards) There is nothing that makes an offensive lineman get better every play than knowing he is blocking for a running back that can actually score on any play.  That is the reason not one play in a game can be used for a resting play.  Mason has that quickness that gives hope on every play.  The balance of running by senior John Heflin can do nearly the same.  Dorian Green, Wyatt Bauman, and Brent Greenwood bring different talents.  The 4.3 yards per try was good, not great.

The offensive line will form a bond.  A brothership.  Lead by four year starter Colton Center, along with seniors Jose Arredondo, Garrett Carlson, Cameron Brumley, Juan Mungia and # 90, Luke Snitkin. Juniors Roberto Alcala, Keegan Greenhaw, Cameron Hall. and Jason Gann.  And two way starter sophomore Ray Dixon.  This group can be very good.  Learn to trust each other.  Every play you will get stronger.

The defense played pretty good.  Forced a key fumble.  Held twice on fourth down.  Allowed only 34 passing yards on 2 of 7 attempts by Wall.  Still not real strong against the Wall triple option.  I wanted to say something , but during the game, when a Yellow Jacket fan screamed out that why did not the Jackets stop the Wall offense, because they “had run the same play 3 times in a row”!  I was more concerned that the Llano fan could only count to 3, as the 49 other plays that Wall ran….were also the same play…it’s the triple option, or the old time veer, but….it is all the same play!!!

Sure don’t like to see defensive backs Matt Agee, John Heflin, Cody Miller, Dalton Dewveall, and Blake Dillard make so many tackles past the line of scrimmage.  But easily Hunter Roemer and Wyatt Bauman had very good games.  Brent Greenwood played well.  as did Dixon, Dorian Green and Jaden Napolez.  Jaden was in on 10 tackles.  Keep up the gang tackleing.  Play hard every single play.  Try to get more turnovers.  And set yourselves a goal of shutting out Bangs.

Have not said anything yet about senior Wyatt Casey.  Loved his first game as a starter.  Wyatt was 9 of 16 passing for 108 yards.  Managed the game well.  Confidence is all that needs adding, and that will come.  Threw one bad pass…forced it in when he should have tucked and ran.  Still, quarterback is in good hands.  Could see the confidence build as Wyatt threw and connected to senior Airon Layton 4 times for 78 yards.  This connection will produce more yards and more points when Wyatt connects on about 15 passes a game.  More first down passes…then Mason really cuts loose.  This could be an exciting offense.  Beating Bangs in Llano this Friday night will help all the confidence builders.

Llano 35   Bangs 0

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2015 Season of Optimism

The football season begins this next Friday night with an inner confidence.  So many new players.  So many veterans with great experience.  Some new coaches with lots of energy. Few will predict the number of wins…but all feel confident it will be unlike 2013 and 2014.

We travel to Wall Friday night.  Revenge would help, as the Hawks beat Llano in Llano last year 54-21.  Wall was an 11-2 team last season, going into the play-offs and losing in the regional quarterfinals.  The Hawks are picked to win their 3-3A DI district, with Brady and Bangs as common foes this year.  Their confidence will be strong.  But what an opening game opportunity for Llano.  Beating Wall in this opening game would be big.

The Jackets prepare with a new quarterback, senior to be Wyatt Casey.  The 6’2 tassel headed Wyatt has looked very good in two scrimmages.  Confidence looks great.  Love his demeanor on the sidelines.  Wyatt could surprise.  And he will have great skill people help.  Love everything John Heflin does.  Yes, all 135 pounds of him.  John became a starter last season as a sophomore in the secondary.  He can run.  Look for more help from the Greenwood brothers, Mason and Brent.  Both are fast.  Wyatt Bauman, and Cody Miller, both veterans will see much time on the field.  And 6’2 #90 Luke Snitkin at end needs to be the next best tight end for the Jackets. He can be a very good senior.

Coach Craig Slaughter says this offensive line will be his best going into his fourth year in Llano.  You start with center senior Colton Center.  Should Colton stay well,  he can be very special.  He leads a group of experienced lineman, with no one better right now than junior to be Ray Dixon.  Tremendous motor…plays hard every play.  Watch the Cameron boys, Hall and Brumley.  Old hand Jose Arredondo at times last year as a junior was the Jackets best blocker. Juan Mungia is very strong and consistent.  There will be others.  But give me a very good offensive line, and you will get good play out of the skill guys.

Last season, the defense was not good.  So I will wait until we have a feel for this seasons players.  6 of the top defensive players from last season return.  All will be better.  But they must be much better.  Llano plays 8 teams that made the playoffs last year.  There will be no easy games.  But you play them one at a time.  Right now, Wall is the only team on the schedule.

So let’s all saddle up and head west.  Beating a good Wall team on their home field will be tough, but the assignment not impossible.  Llano 21   Wall 18 ..

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2015 Brings New Challenges, New Opportunities

In 90 days we will be getting serious as fans to begin dreaming the dreams of our Llano Yellowjackets.  2015 will bring many things new.  New faces, new approaches, and most anticipated, players with talent enough to be competitive.  Soon I will have players names to add to this blog, and comments from Llano Coaches…..with summer brings anticipation.   Year number 43 begins for Play To Win.  I can’t wait.

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Heartbreak Season Ends for 2015 Seniors

2014 Seniors…Class of 2015

Kasin Riley # 89                              Austin Miller #40

Dalton Ward #88                            Lance Reven #34

Jalen Bauman #84                         Tommy Yelvington #24

Colton Ekstrom # 77                       Trevor Penny #20

Clayton Masters #75                        Holden Simpson #11

Harley Smith # #68                         Aaron Moss #8

Cody Harp #64                                  David Forrister #4

Stetson Watson #52                         Rhett Levingston #11

Colin Mayne #50                               Dustin Heflin #3

The loss to District Champions Navarro Panthers brought to the close a very frustrating season to a team that never gave up.  The effort was on the field, but the unbelievable rash of injuries to most key players and the misfortune of so many close moments that did not fall the Jacket direction.  Nearly beating Brady…nearly beating Lytle…the story of this season.

With senior Jalen Bauman after 3 games on a path that could have broken a season school record in receptions, goes down against Fredericksbug on the first play, and the whole offense had to change directions.  Bauman ended the season with 26 catches and in the top 10 all time catches for a career.  Senior Holden Simpson ended with 16 TD tosses, and 1147 yards passing…nice numbers that will be in the record book. And senior Kasin Riley with 13 catches and 20.08 yards per catch will see his name listed forever in the pages of Llano history.

But the disappointment for Llano fans like myself is the seniors that worked so hard since the 7th grade and before, saw few rewards.  “These are the times that try men’s souls,” and true Yellowjackets know that this is not the end, but it is the beginning of a special time.  A time of making decisions that set the course.  And after 42 years of writing Play To Win, few times have I not heard back from retired Yellowjacket players that did not learn what it meant to face adversity and not always see or expect rewards.  The reward many times in life comes from knowing deep inside you did all you could do.  That you tried your best.  That you left it on the field every game.  And while your best sometimes fail short, you knew you played to win.  Nearly 40 years ago I had a saying by Theodore Roosevelt placed in front of my desk, and in times of worry, and times of dark clouds, I would read, and somehow, feel better.  I have taken these words with me.  Maybe they can be of help to you.  Best of all to the great seniors of 2015.

“It is far better to dare mighty things and to enjoy your hour of triumph, even though it is checkered occasionally with failure, than to take stock with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

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Lytle Next in Quest for Play Offs

The Llano Yellowjackets up and down season begins anew.  Rested.  Somewhat healed.  Refreshed.  But more than anything else, the seniors have realized this is the beginning of the end.  It can end greatly, or it can be a real downer.  Three games left in their entire careers.  7th and 8th grade are now a blur in the rearview mirror.  Freshman years look so limp.  But here we are when the real test comes to fruition.  When everything you dreamed could happen, can happen.  Lytle is the first of three big final exams.

This still can be the perfect storm.  Llano can still not only be in the mix for a State Playoff spot, I really think that these seniors can rally the forces to be counted on to be the district crown holder.  And when you think that by winning your last two home games and winning in Hondo next week, you are there.  Improbable?  Maybe…but Llano has players that will not give up…never have, and will not this time.

Each year I lay this on the seniors.  No doubt the juniors and sophomores are some special talents.  But the seniors have more to loss.  Three weeks of the most supreme effort in their young lives will give the gift of a lifetime.  Great memories as a LLano Yellowjacket  in their senior years is unmatched in regards to all in life.  Life begins this Friday night at Jacket Stadium..and beating Lytle will be a memory maker forever.

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Open Date Badly Needed…Second Season Next

The Llano Yellowjackets had a very rough opening district game Friday night in Wimberley.  The Texans opened with a 60 yard TD pass on the first play of the game, and built a 45 – 0 halftime lead.  Losing the coin flip at the beginning of the game got the Jackets off to a bad start.  Talking with a Jacket parent at halftime…we decided that from now on, if we lose the coin flip, we will ask to go for 2 out of three…the loss was bad…but now start over.

Llano can  now regroup.  A week off and three district games to go.  Lytle on October 24…travel to Hondo on Halloween, and finish with pre-District favorite Navarro on November 7.

We will talk about the Texans very little.  We can learn from it, and we can work to get better.  But no need to play it again.  Llano outscored the Texans 20-7 in the second half, but know that Wimberley took the foot off the pedal to some degree.  Still senior quarterback Holden Simpson threw 2 TD passes, one a 19 yarder to senior Lance Reven in the third quarter, and then a 56 yard heads up play to senior Kasin Riley who broke deep when Holden was running for his life. A 26 yard screen pass to senior Aaron Moss was near perfect. Reven ended the game with a 3 yard run and a TD.

Briefly, many Jackets did recover from the first play, but it was not soon enough.  Stetson Watson played well.  Still like the center position of Colin Mayne.  Junior Cody Miller from his safety position was the last defense before scores were made.  Trevor Penny and Austin Miller played hard.  And junior Wyatt Bauman had one of the best defensive plays this year in a linebacker blitz on a fourth and one play that was a two yard loss.  Dorian Green continues to have positive plays, and Stratt Stiles was much better.  There just were not enough plays made early.

The Jackets have 6 players that were starters that did not play.  Some, such as Jalen Bauman, Colton Center and freshman Ray Dixon played both ways.  Do not know if they will return.  So you play with who is healthy, and Llano can win with these players.  This point in the season, Llano must get healthy…mentally.  This is the point in the season that the seniors realize there are only three games left in their lives.  Since the 7th grade to now…all is on the line.  To make the playoffs, the Jackets must win one more game.  They should win two more for sure.  But what I see happening is Llano wins out, Wimberley losses Navarro ( Navarro has beat the Texans the last two years), and the Jackets share the District Crown.  That is what the Jackets think about this week.  Putting every ounce of energy into three more games, to make sure their original goals set in August can still be realized.  Sure, Wimberley took the wind out of our sails.  But you don’t let one half of one game be who you are.  Llano can beat Lytle in two weeks….build on that and beat Hondo in Hondo…then play for it all in November….this is when it can be fun and wash away any poor games of this season.  Win it all.

I will write again toward the end of this week…picking the score and spending this week thinking hard on everything that we as a town and players can do be  all that we can be.

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Jackets Poor Guest to Salado

The Fighting Llano Yellowjackets found their sting.  The seniors played like there were no more tomorrows.  And gang tackling became the norm Friday night as the Jackets won for the second time on the road by the score of 34-13.  The 2-3 Jackets begin District play this Friday night against very old rival Wimberley.

Despite the whining this week by cry babies and enablers, the Llano Yellowjackets knew one thing…it is what is in ones heart that really matters in life.  If it were up to size, speed, and number of players on the sidelines, Llano need not travel.  Going way back, George Scott, Austin Charlton and Ty Thurman would have been water boys.  Instead they were… and are legends.  Someone forgot to tell them they were too small and too slow.

I told the 2014 Jackets last week they might be in the later category.  They forgot to listen.  When I saw senior Cody Harp pulling around and down the line and doing his best Larry Allen impression, I knew something was different.  When I saw senior center Colin Mayne crush a linebacker, and two plays later, in the fourth quarter sprint with all of his energy to be the first Jacket downfield on a punt, I knew these seniors had DNA.  And when I saw Llano coaches finally give senior Aaron Moss some help at running back with senior Lance Reven,  junior Wyatt Bauman and junior Dorian Green I knew the coaching staff was still looking for answers.  When Llano lined up in the I formation, this was a team looking for ways to win.  People of football know what I am talking about.

Can’t believe how impressed I was with the offensive line play.  Junior Luke Snitkin, senior Kasin Riley, Mayne, Harp, senior Steton Watson, junior Jose Arredondo, seniors Colton Ekstrom, Clayton Masters, junior Stratt Stiles  and senior Dalton Ward all turned their game around.  Should each improve next week as they did this past week, the Texans could be in for a long night.  Senior Harley Smith really played hard and several times he looked like he was having fun running through folks.  Harley went down with a leg injury in the second half and hope is he will return soon.  Really like the play of 5’5, 230 pound Juan Mungia.  Played like he was 6’5, but I guess someone forgot to well Juan  he needed to be taller.

The Jackets 99 yard drive in the first quarter on 12 plays was nothing short of just spectacular.  Moss, Bauman at fullback (an old position many in football have forgotten about), Reven, sophomore John Heflin all carried the ball.  Five first downs, one fourth down try with success, Llano was hitting on all cylinders.  OH Yea, I nearly forgot, Holden Simpson, senior quarterback had his best game.  Simpson throwing to junior Airon Layton for 44 yards, and TD pass to senior Tommy Yelvington for the final 6 finished Llano’s best offensive drive this season.  Tommy caught two TD passes Friday night and now has 17 catches for 220 yards.  He will not make us forget Jalen Bauman who had surgery this past week, but he sure is making Jalen proud.  He and Layton and Moss all are sure handed receivers.

The drive in the fourth quarter covered 72 yards and 15 plays.  Great line blocking, pass completions to Moss and Airon for the TD score, the game was complete.  Yelveinton picked up another interception, as did junior Cody Miller.  Miller I think has 6 picks  for the season.  Remarkable 155 pound safety playing like John Lynch!

Really have liked the kicking game all season.  Simpson’s punting with great effort in coverage has made this phase so successful.  Ward, senior Rhett Levington, junior Dalton Dewveall hustle hard every play. So does #5, Trent Decker..going to be good.  They make this part really good.  Senior kicker David Forrister is just hard to beat.  Also like to see that Llano lets David kick deep.  Jackets have good coverage.

The defense played like they did against Bangs.  Cody Miller, Reven, and senior Austin Miller lead this hard hitting group.  They wrap up and don’t just throw their bodies at runners.  Ekstrom, Bauman, and Green have really started to get good.  And junior Wyatt Casey gets overlooked in the secondary when you have Miller and Yelvington to compare with, but Casey makes a lot of plays.  This may be best Llano secondary in many many years.  And what do you say about senior Trevor Penny? The 160 pound lineman is so quick…one of the best at what he does.

Seniors, it does not  get easier, but it could be more fun.  Wimberley has made life not pleasant on Yellowjackets in recent years.  I think we beat them in 2001.  At Wimberley!  We have not played them every year in the past.  Their 2-3 record and they have played some good teams.  They will be tough at home, but that seems good for Llano.  Looks like the Jackets can pour all energy into this misplaced district contest, then take week off before the final three district games.  The Texans have two great players in Wes Lambert and quarterback Colton Cerday, both all-district last season.  This is a great challenge for Llano.  Texas Football picked the Jackets last in 13-4A in preseason.  Llano will win.  Watch the Jacket lineman.  We win on the line, and we win this game.

Llano 24   Wimberley 20



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