Fumbles Do Jackets In- Defense Playing Stronger

The Burnet Bulldogs, ranked 23 in 4-AAAA Div.I, raced to a 29-0 halftime lead due to an interception run back for a TD, and three consecutive fumbles that were cashed in for an additional 13 points.  Take the mistakes out and Llano was somewhat competitive..   Can’t take anything away from the offense of the Bulldogs.  Drove the field on Llano twice in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead into the end of the quarter.  Then the Jackets interception made it 16-0.  Can’t look past the so slow start of the Jackets offense.  First five possessions in the first half produced 68 net yards on 17 plays.  Four turnovers in the first half was too big to overcome.

The Jacket offense had spurts of good effort.  But 141 yards of the Jackets offense out of 221 total yards came in the last five minutes of the game.  Junior quarterback Ben Walling had the surprise play of the night with a 75 yard run down to the 10 yard line where Llano was able to then get its only score.  Walling had 4 runs and 98 yards, and Mason Greenwood had 82 yards on 19 tries.

LLano’s defense has played better.  Maybe much better.  It is hard to judge when the Jacket offense stays on the field so little.  32 points is not winning football, but 19 of those gave the football to the Bulldogs in great field position with only a few yards to pay dirt.  The defense forced the Bulldogs to kick four field goals after very strong defensive stands.  That plus forcing 6 punts and Llano’ freshman Arron Brown getting his first varsity interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter are all signs for hope.  Burnet played its starters to the middle of the fourth quarter.

Senior Jaden Napolez may have had his best game, in on 13 tackles.  Wonderful game from Ian Fletcher.  Senior John Heflin played well, and still has that extra step when given a chance to play offense.  Bent Greenwood, Kegan Greenhaw, Tyler Gann, Blake Dillard, John Keeney,  Kyle Cooper, senior Hunter Roemer continue to give this defense a face.  All are solid football players.  Juniors Josh Soliz, Nolan Keller, Gage Cox, and Ray Dixon are the future of this defense.  They are getting better every week.  Now they need very badly a signature victory.

Hustle is hard to coach. It comes from the heart.  It comes from want to.  And it is unselfish.  Want to watch that definition of a player this week, watch Luis Coronado and Shane Flint. Watch Christian Conway.  Watch the Jacket punting teams and see who gives it their all every time.  In the most unrecognized part of football, these guys when given a chance, take every minute and excel.  This year I can also say that about Ray Dixon and Tyler Gann.  Also on Jacket kickoff returns, good blocking came from Stephen Sanderson, Jordan Monroy, Thomas Westermann, Neil Blackmon and Bradley Dyess.  Every play, 100% effort.  This kind of effort is how we get that one special win that can define this season.

The offensive line must improve.  Yes, Mason Greenwood has 478 yards rushing in about 4 1/2 games, on a pace that could reach 1,000 yards again.  But Llano will be playing two buzzsaws soon in Navarro and Wimberley.  Mason makes a lot of yards alone.  He must have more help from Dakoda Trull, Roberto Alcala, Cameron Hall, Jason Gann  and Hayden Cowert. Mason must have those holes up the middle to keep linebackers honest.  You all can do it.

Do not like to say this, but it is true.  Llano plays a much weaker team this week in Austin Eastside at  Nelson Field in Austin.  This is not a week to take off.  This is your last chance to really try to get better.  You make goals.  Such as,…You have no turnovers.  You have no penalties.  You get this offense off dead center and make it work.  The defense plays for a shutout.  It works toward as few yards as possible to give up.  Make this game one in which you prepare yourselves for District play.  Please do not take Eastside as an easy week.  Make it your hardest week. Make this game count.

Player of the week:  Luis Coronado

 

 

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Favorable Game Schedule Has Backfired

The Llano Yellowjackets (The entire family- Administration, coaches, fans, players, players’ family) had the opportunity to redo the football schedule this past February.  And after playing Liberty Hill, Fredericksburg, Gatesville, Brownwood,  and all the other schools with double the enrollment of Llano, wins were far and in-between.  5 non winning season records took its toll.  So in February, with new enrollment numbers out by the UIL, Llano was able to schedule Brady, Sonora, and Lago Vista for the 2016 season.  All 3-AAA schools.  Llano is 4-AAAA.  Not “gemme” games.  Good programs all, but more in line with enrollment numbers of Llano.

Llano now stands with a 1-3 record with all losses to “Brady, Sonora, and Lago Vista”.  The real issue on the three games was by  halftime, the Jackets were not even close to winning the games.  The Jackets were not competitive.  Unacceptable to the entire family.

If there were just one or two glaring reasons for the losses, that could be worked on and improved upon.  But the offense is averaging 16 points a game.  Exactly 1/2 the production it would take to produce a winning season.  The defense is giving up 26 points a game.  Not the worse, but still not acceptable.

I think life is like this.  When things go wrong, or unexpected, we all tend to lie back, and do less.  Instead of forging ahead, we retreat somewhat.  We don’t want to compound our problems.  And many times things just get worse, because we are not aggressive. Not willing to change or make changes.  No one…players, coaches are fans want to make the situation worse.  Example:  Lago Vista about half the time kicked off with a high short kick to prevent run backs.  Llano decided to fair catch all of these kicks.  No risk, no rewards.  With the visual eye,  everytime, the Jackets could have caught the ball, and run for 5- 15 yards up-field with ease.  But is was the safe thing to do.  No fumbles…but it was not aggressive.  And had Llano caught those balls and run an average of ten yards, the Jackets would have began their drives on the 44 yard line instead of the 34 yard line.  Playing conservative.  Playing not to lose.

The Jackets average 5.2 yards per carry on first and second down.  On third down the average was down to 1.6 yards per carry.  Fourth down we tried two unsuccessful field goals, punted twice, and had 3 incomplete passes.  One TD run, and two passes completed, resulting in two first downs.  This week Llano had 18 plays with one yard gain or loss yardage.  No passes to the tight end.  Offense is very predictable.  Was to Lago Vista.

We play Friday night against our closest and one of our oldest foes…Burnet is a top 20 team in 4-AAAA.  We…we play in Llano.  We have nothing to loss.   We are not expected to come close.  We will be expected to be out of the contest by halftime.  We must play harder, not safer.  We must not take plays off. We must play four quarters, no matter the score.  We must bring back Jacket pride, in which is a rich tradition and no matter how bad your season was going, no one still wants to play you.  You play hard every play.  And you look forward to the challenge…the challenge this week of playing a very good team, and you want them to remember you.  Our players have orange and black in their blood.  Play like it.

My surprise this season is how much talent we have.  Very good players all over the field.  If all eleven played hard on every play, I have no doubt that Llano can beat Burnet.  It has been nearly two decades since we beat the Bulldogs.  Lets’ start new this week.   Let’s start by showing Burnet who we are.  We are Llano.

 

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No Offense in Loss to Bulldogs

The visiting Brady Bulldogs lost 4 points to two safeties as the first quarter ended, had 16 plays in which the Jacket defense threw the visitors for losses or no gains.  And allowed only 260 yards of offense.   But the only thing worse was the Yellowjacket offense.  The frustrating 21-7 loss to long time rival Brady came down to the difference of three plays.

On the first play of the second quarter for the Bulldogs, senior Weston Bauer broke numerous tackles to run 70 yards before being pulled down by several Jacket defenders, including junior Tyler Gann.  Four plays later, Brady scored.  The excitement continued when Llano on the next series saw junior quarterback Ben Walling complete a 34 yard pass to freshman Arron Brown down to the 28 yard line.  Junior Mason Greenwood ran for 17 more down to the 11 yard line.  Four plays later Mr. Dependable, Josh Soliz booted a 30 yard field goal.  Josh kicked true last week on his only two tries against Sonora on extra point kicks.  I guess Josh did not take the hint from me two weeks ago when I suggested Llano run the football on extra points instead of kicking!!!  Great job by Josh….and lets’ keep kicking those extra points!!!

The Jacket defense really played very well, except for three plays.  In the third quarter, 4th and 15 on the 23 yard line, Brady quarterback Caleb Turnell found a receiver wide open for the 23 yard toss and a 14-7 lead.  Llano had them in the perfect place to make a good stop.  And in the fourth quarter, Turnell completed a 19 yard pass down to the Jacket 3 yard line when Llano really needed to get back in the game.  3 plays.  Resulted in 3 scores.

Great pass rush from Kegan Greenhaw, Jaden Napolez and senior Hunter Roemer.  Junior Ray Dixon continued to cause havoc.  Senior Blake Dillard at defensive end had a good game.  Soliz had 3 tackles.  Junior Ian Fletcher had 6 stops.  Senior John Heflin is working his way back into shape after missing game one.  Solid game.  Sophomore Drew Cooper had 5 tackles and 7 assists before leaving the game in which he had to be removed by the EMS folks.  Senior Brent Greenwood is always solid at safety.  Brent is the quarterback of the defense.  Solid player.  Tyler Gann and Lewis Coronado along with junior Gage Cox had good games.  This defense maybe…maybe could be very good.  Must keep getting better.  Three bad plays was a killer this week.  Next week, with improvement, these players can start to feel very good about their play.

The offense suffered.  66 yards rushing on 25 carries was very low production.  Hurried passes, short hopped passes, dropped passes all contributed to too many third and fourth down incompletions.   Seven.  This  prevented drives from continuing. Five punts.  Converted on one of three tries on fourth.  The offense seems stuck in reverse. 14 plays produced one yard or less.  Do not know where the offense goes from here, but it must be up.  The offensive line could improve with a second longer in holding blocks.  Mason’s quickness between the tackles instead of outrunning the defense to the sidelines is a noticeable difference from last season.  Shorter passes could be more productive.  10 yards over the middle along with the screens might help get the defense off the line of scrimmage and stop the predictablility of the run game.   All of these, and maybe none of these are the answer to the offense.  But averaging 17 points a game thru 3 games is not working.

It will not get easier.  Lago Vista comes to Llano this week for Homecoming. The Lago Vista Coaches are a factor.  Head Coach Craten Phillips has been at Sonora for the past 4 years.  41 wins.  Already Lago Vista is showing improvement.  Along with defensive coordinator Bradley Kassell…former Llano Yellowjacket great, college great, NFL great.   Bradley loves Llano, but he will not want to let the Jackets get the best of him.  What a competitor. His defense will show up to play.

Lago Vista beat Brady by 10.  Ran up 41 points on the Bulldogs.  Llano will have to score to win.  The one bright point for Llano is that I was able to talk with the Wall coaches on Thursday.  I asked them to rough up the Vikings as they played Friday night.  The Hawks took care of business.  Now both teams coming off bad games.  Should be a great time for someone to step up their game.  The Jackets opportunity is now.  Llano can start putting this talent and effort to greater use.   Playing a complete game on all fronts is a must.

Offensive Player of the Game:  Junior offensive lineman, Dakota Trull.

Defensive Player of the Game:  Sophomore Drew Cooper

Llano 31  Lago Vista 16

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Dark Night in Sonora, Jackets Go Down 28-14

On a rain delayed game that began 20 minutes late due to a hard rain, the Llano Yellow Jackets lost more than the game in Sonora last Friday night.  Five Jackets came out of the game with injuries that could shape the season.  The 28-14 score was a better game than what appears.

By halftime, junior quarterback Ben Walling and sophomore Anthony Watson were on the sidelines with concussion type injuries, only to be determined to see if they can play against Brady this week.  Senior Jaden Napolez came in at quarterback, and ran the team in a great effort.  The Jackets settled down and ran the football with Mason Greenwood getting 171 yards rushing on 26 carries, and older brother Brent carrying 9 times for 42 yards.  The 9th ranked 3-AAA Broncos built a 21-7 halftime lead, and Llano was able to put together a scoring drive late in the game to make it close.  Josh Soliz kicked good on both the Jackets extra point tries.  Llano was able to do some good things, but give credit where it was due.  Sonora has won 41 games the last four seasons, and from this angle, they are headed to double digit wins again.

Llano’s defensive line played well.  The rushing attack of the Broncos managed only 110 yards rushing, and the full return of senior Hunter Roemer was noticeable.  Junior Ray Dixon continued to dominate inside with effort not seen in years.  Senior Blake Dillard. as well as Kegan Greenhaw had good games.  Brent and senior Kyle Cooper had good games.  Cooper too came out of the game and did not return.  Senior veteran John Heflin did not play.  These two seniors are badly needed back ASAP.

Llano’s passing game just was non existent, with Walling and Jaden completing just two passes for 12 yards. Certainly the Jackets’ rushing attack for 264 yards with a healthy 6.2 yards per try is winning football.  Junior Dakoda Trull, senior Cameron Hall, senior Roberto Alcala with Dixon played hard on the offensive line. Junior Hayden Cowart had his best game.  He will keep improving.  And so will the offense.

Big plays against the Jacket defense prevented a win.  Pass plays by the veteran Bronco quarterback Kaden Cordell that covered 55 yards, 24 yards, 17 yards, 31 yards and 37 yards were back breakers.  The passing defense for Llano got a stern test against the Broncos.  It will not get easier this week against the Brady Bulldogs…

The over-all record with Brady is 25-25-2.  A history that you could write a book about.  The strong feelings with Brady go back decades.  From a game in Llano in which the Bulldogs were leading in a game 64-6 and with seconds left in the game, lined up and attempted a field goal. Time after time, each team has managed to knock the other team out of  district championships and play-offs spots.  Cannot tell you how many track relay teams for Llano have been dis-qualified when running in track meets at Brady Stadium  It became a joke for years and then…it was not funny.  The long story when Llano lead Brady by 12 points in Brady, and then a lightening storm hit.  A three hour delay.  Brady came back after midnight to send the Jackets home with a loss.  Or the time in Llano when the UIL referees never showed up.  At 9 PM, everyone went home.

3-AAA or 20-AAAAA, Llano and Brady is a classic rivalry, and no love lost here.  The Bulldogs were 7-4 last season, including beating Llano the last two years.  Their entire offensive and defensive line return from that team last season.  Brady always has speed.  Pretty good  combination to win.  I look at their program names and see Jacoby, Bauer, Zapata, Schertner….all old names with history.   Llano last beat the Bulldogs in 2006 and 2007.   Former Llano Coach David Yeager told me after the 2007 game that Llano would never play the Bulldogs again!!!  Never did tell me why?  But, here we are again, facing a two game losing streak with this menace.

Llano can start our winning streak this Friday night.  Brady will play their hardest when it comes to Llano.  Llano players need to understand the urgency to play Brady like their lives depended upon it.  The Jackets schedule will not get easier.  Beating a good Bulldog team will right this ship.  Beating Brady will prepare the Jackets for the remainder of the season.  Beating Brady is important.

Offensive Player of the week:  Mason Greenwood

Defensive Player of the Week: Ray Dixon

Llano 27   Brady 21

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Great Start At Smithville

The Llano Yellow Jackets kicked the season off at Smithville by racing to a 25-0 halftime lead to jump start the 2016 football season.  The issue was the young Jackets forgot they needed to play harder in the second half than in the first, and that did not seem to happen.  The 31-15 final score was nothing but hope and anticipation of what may to come, but the Jackets can settle down now, for the Jackets travel this week to State 3AAA ranked Sonora that will be anything but easy.

One of the best and most telling reasons that the first part of any season, is the new players that show up.  Sure, we all knew Mason and Brent would come to play.  We knew junior Ray Dixon would give any team holly heck.  And veterans John Heflin, Jaden Napolez, Jason Gann, Ian Fletcher would be the backbone of this team.  But where ‘o where have these other guys been?

Goodness….# 7 Kyle Cooper at safety.  What a find, and my understanding he is a move in from this past spring.  Got anymore friends you want to bring with you Kyle?  Great first game in the secondary.  #40 Stephen Sanderson, a senior played well at special teams and offense.  #21 Luis Coronado is very special on special teams.  Great hustle.  # 50 Dakoda Trull at offensive guard may be very special.  The Jackets rushed for nearly 150 yards in the first half.  Give Dakoda some credit.  My goodness…sophomore Brook Keel made a great first game introduction at wide receiver.  #88 is going to be good.  And what do we say about #12, sophomore Anthony Watson?  Three catches for 92 yards in the first half, two TDs’?  You make the Jacket record book for one.  And this is the beginning.

I knew Mason Greenwood would need help from his offensive line to make another run at a 1,000 yard season, as he did last season in his sophomore year.  But this first game may spoil us.  Senior Cameron Hall, Jaden, Ray at left tackle, Gann, junior Hayden Cowart, veteran great #60 Roberto Alcala at center, and Trull.  This could…could be Slaughters’ best offensive line….must get better every game to make such a remark,…but could be.

Friday night, the defensive line was at its best as compared to last year.  Dixon in the middle is a fireball.  Every play he is coming at the guards and center on the other team.  Every play.  Veteran Blake Dillard is so solid.  Nolan Keller is too solid, and will get better every game.  Cannot say enough of what a player Kegan Greenhaw is.  Makes play after play.  Blocked at pass.  Wonderful game.  And the following players never let up.  Junior Josh Soliz, Ian Fletcher, Brent, Jaden, and Luis.  Gang tackling and the blitz!! Llano came from everywhere.  Ian coming off the end is nothing but dangerous. Felt like Brent and Josh were in on 20 tackles.

Mason had 50 yards on 7 carries in the first half.  Did not carry the football in the second half.  But #5 did.  Dalton Moore ran 10 times for 60 yards.  Good start for the sophomore.  Really runs hard.  Senior Blake Dillard showed he too could run hard and fast.  Had several very strong runs.  At the end, Llano just feed the ball to Brent Greenwood.  That is a safe play everytime.  I see tons of hope in this running game.

Junior quarterback Ben Walling was 6 of 12 for 122 yards and three touchdown passes in the first half. 0 for 3 in the second half.  Ran hard for several first downs.  Solid start for Ben.

A few suggestions:  The penalties can kill you.  Had Llano with 8.   Maybe we can say it was the first game.  Ok.  Next week let’s cut that to 4.  That’s a good goal.

Let’s go for two points after every touchdown.  We are a running team.  Surely we can get three yards half the time.  We have the backs, the speed, and the line that could produce three yard gains every two plays.  Even the pros are drifting in that direction.  Nothing is more deflating for a defense to walk off the field after getting 8 points put on it.

Sonora will be no Smithville.  Ranked #6 last week in 3AAA.  The Broncos were 8-4 last year and won their district.  Their returning quarterback threw for 26 TD passes last season.  Will be a great test for Cooper, Heflin and Luis.  Sonora may be picked to win  by the Harris Poll by 3 touchdowns.   Llano 24  Sonora 22.

Jacket Offensive Player of the Game Week 1….Dalton Moore

Jacket Defensive Player of the Game Week 1….Kegan Greenhaw

 

 

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Big Question: Are The Jackets Better?

In every Llano Yellowjackets’  mind at the beginning of each season, “are we ready”?  Are we Better?  Has all of the very very  hard work and long long hours paid off?  We will see soon.

Pre-season scrimmages are just the pits.  Then you get rained out.  Then you question yourself even more as the first real game gets closer.  Are we ready?

Llano plays Smithville in the season opener this coming Friday Night.  The Jackets hold a 2-0 advantage over Smithville in the only two games of record, both played nearly 15 years ago.  Smithville has a history of many ups and downs.   Last season a 1-9 record was a down year.   Not many years ago an old friend was Head Coach there, Joey McQueen.. He produced two winning seasons and playoff victories.  Maybe Smithville Coach Cyril Adkins is the next McQueen.  Ready to take this 2016 team on a great run and a state playoff game.  And…are the Tigers ready for Llano?

The Jackets are coming off a 4-8 record from 2015.  A Playoff victory.  And best of all, a large group of returning starters.  To me, it will start on defense.  Llano allowed 27 points a game last season.  An improvement from the year before of about 6 points a game.  Llano really needs to take that next step up. An improvement of 5 points this season from the defense is realistic.  Keep the opponents around 22 points and Llano should win.  High on my list of returning veterans are Hunter Roemer. He has moved to defensive end at last report.  238 pound junior Ray Dixon could be the best two technique (for old timers, defensive guard) in years.  I expect him to dominate.  Senior Blake Dillard got better every game last season.  I expect that to continue, and for Blake to be a real force.  Look for Jose Solice to be even better than last season.  He now weighs in around 220 pounds.  I expect Brent Greenwood to lead in tackles…again and to be even better.  His 4 interceptions are a beginning of holding teams to 22 points.  My favorite in the secondary will be senior John Heflin.  What a smart athlete.  And give me junior Ian Fletcher anywhere.  He was a great sophomore, and what a playmaker.  Watch every play for # 14.   There are others that will step up.  There are others not mentioned here, but give me time. I will get to know you all very shortly.  But what a great opportunity this unit has.  A real chance, with really good players to bring back a very strong Jacket tradition of having great defenses.  This unit could be one of those.

If the defense does what I expect, then the offense will follow.  Returning quarterback Ben Walling had games like you might expect from a sophomore.  Sometimes not so good, but others very good.  His 154 yards passing against Hondo was very good.  Getting his completion rate up over 60%, and keeping the turnovers to a minimum will give the Jackets every reason to have high expectations from Ben.  Receiver Jason Gann could be special, and as a senior needs to be a real leader for the offense.  Surprise last year was tight end Jaden Napolez.  The senior needs to catch 20 passes this year for the offense to roll.  Look for veteran Cameron Hall to be a beast on the offensive line at 240 pounds.  Roberto Alcala was good last season on the offensive line.  He will be better in 2016.

One player already special is 1,057 yards rushing running back,  junior to be, Mason Greenwood.  Mason will run behind a prideful offensive line.  Ben throws a few short passes to Jaden to keep the linebackers honest, and Mason will run for 1,500 yards in 2016.  A combination of all above will put the Jackets back where they want to be.

The Jackets play 5 teams that made the playoffs in 2015.  Llano should be competitive in every game.  And Llano should line up and expect to win in 7.  Three games will be hard, but Llano can win hard games.  Llano needs to beat Burnet.  After two decades of not beating the Bulldogs, lets start this streak back the other way.  This team can do that.  And Llano then will be prepared mentally to give Wimberley and Navarro all they can handle.  This game is mental.  I am not worried about the Jackets being physically ready.  Getting mentally ready takes one game at a time.  The first building block starts Friday night in Smithville.  Llano 35   Smithville 6

 

 

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2016 Football Season Is Here!!!

2016 will be a season of optimism and higher expectations.  I say higher, because after four seasons of not having winning records, Llano still has ben able to prevail and make the state play-offs two of those seasons.  And the 2015 season saw Llano win its first play-off game in 8 years.

No one knows better than Llano’s coaching staff on the strong push among Jacket loyalist that the Team needs to win more than the minimum.  Schedule does have everything to do with it and no one can deny having very strong schools in ones district can make for long seasons.  This is no fault of the effort of Llano football players.  And only a few exceptions have I seen, now going some 44 years of following this team have  I seen effort and lack of it ever made a difference in a football game outcome.  I have preached often over the past four decades the proud and many times the supreme work ethic of being a Llano Yellowjacket.  If it is in the water, so be it.  But something becomes instilled in Llano football players that tells them to never give up.  To never submit to press calls for the bigger teams that have larger enrollments and Llano should  just roll over for them.  I truly still think that few schools look forward to playing Llano.  Playing a team that will still hit you, and still be playing hard in the fourth quarter are trade marks of being a Llano Yellowjacket.  And senior leadership must lead the charge.

I am excited to have several players back this season, and today we will mention seniors.  Let’s start with John Heflin.  He was a starter as a sophomore at safety and cornerback.  It seems like John has been a starter since he was in the 7th grade, but he is a soild player with a great senior year coming upon him.  Linebacker Brent Greenwood was a leading tackler last season, and could be an all star season.  But his leadership and demanding presence on the field is what becomes noticeable.  Brent needs his defense to step up this season and make crucial plays at crucial times.  Moving inside at linebacker will give Brent a better opportunity to be more vocal and help give strong voice on the field.  Defensive end Blake Dillard was right behind Brent in tackles, and his 7 QB sacks last year should help make this defense one that will help the offense.  These three players must make the defense great.  And a great defense will put the Jackets into the playoffs again.

Llano will scrimmage Wall this Friday in Wall.  Wall mauled Llano last year.  Wall was a healthy 12-1 last season in Class 3A, and they are picked again to win their district.  Expect a strong running game from the Hawks.  And interesting to some, they have a “Weishuhn” on their team.  I think that makes 5 generations.  Will be a great challenge and opportunity for Llano.  An opportunity to get ready for August 26, first regular season game in Smithville.

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