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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2016 Yellow Jackets Football Schedule

Llano At Smithville   7:30   August 26

Llano At Sonora   7:30   Sept. 2

Brady At Llano   7:30   Sept. 9

Lago Vista at Llano   7:30   Sept. 16

Burnet At Llano   7:30   Sept. 23

Llano At Austin Eastside(Nelson Field   7:30  Sept. 29

Navarro At LLano   7:30   Oct. 7

LLano At Wimberley   7:30   Oct. 14

Hondo At Llano   7:30   October 21

Llano At Bandera   7:30   October 28

Nov. 4    Open Date

 

 

 

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2016 Looks Bright for Jackets

The 2015 season is in the rear view mirror, and lasting memories will stand the test of time.  There are good times ahead, and times will force adjustments.  An improved defense was spurred by senior All District linebacker Wyatt Bauman, and All District defensive back Cody Miller and his 12 career interceptions.  Gone will be 4 year starter Colton Center in the offensive line as well as second team all district wide receiver Airon Layton.  I will miss a very unsung offensive lineman in a very good Jose Arredondo.  Cameron Brumley came on strong at the end and helped change the attitude.  Juan Mungia made a hand on both sides of the ball.  All good football players that help make this season one to remember.

2016 will bring something new.  Players begin now preparing for next August.  Leadership begins now.  Hard work that includes getting stronger and faster, begins now.  And if the All district team gives any incentive, Llano should have every reason to work hard.  8 Yellowjackets sophomores and juniors were mentioned on the District squad.  Ray Dixon on both offense and defense.  Brent Greenwood both on defense and as punter.  Two year starter John Heflin at defensive back. Blake Dillard at the defensive end position.  Sophomore Ian Fletcher had a great year at linebacker and was on the team.  Hunter Roemer on the defensive line, as was Robert Alcala.  And Sophomore running back Mason Greenwood will go after his second 1,000 rushing yard season.

Leadership must come now, leading in the weight room, and doing all the extras to be better than those guys over at Navarro.  Ben Walling, Cameron Hall, Christian Martinez, Kegan Greenhaw, Jaden Napolez, Jason Gann and Sterling Rogers all were major contributors in 2015.  Each can be really special in 2016, if they begin today preparing.  These players are seniors now.  2016 begins now.

So many others will contribute…Look for good things from junior to be, Nolan Keller.  Tyler Gann could move up and play with his brother on this 2016 team.  Look for Jose Soliz and Dalton Bauman to make good hands.  Austin Humphrey, Michael Lockhart, Hayden Cowert, Taylor Smith need to be heard from.  Anthony Watson, Dakota Trull, Tyler Wright, Neil Blackman, Shane Flint and Gage Cox need to be in the mix.  Who will step up in the leadership roles?  It will be fun to watch.

New districts will be announced in February, and looks like we will be in the same district.  Bandera might move into our district.

10 of the 12 teams Llano played in 2015 were in the play offs.  There will be no easy wins.  But goals are set now.  Should Llano play Wall next season in the opener, beating the Hawks should be a realistic goal.  I think Wall finished this season at 12-1.  Winning against Brady in Llano next season against a very old rival game is a real goal.  And being competitive against Navarro is a must.  We play them in Llano in 2016.  And we must beat Lytle in Llano next season.  We let that one this season get away.

Can we win them all?  Sure we can.  But the season begins now.  Don’t wait until August 2016.  That’s when everyone else begins.  2016 can be very special.  Make it happen.

 

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4-8 Season Good One to Remember

In 1969, the Llano Yellow Jackets ended the season with a 3-7 record.  They were tied in first place with Brady and San Saba.  In those days, no prizes for everyone.  Only one team went to the play-offs.  Llano Coach Weldon Seeliger called heads in the coin flip.  The Brady and San Saba Coaches called tails.  Heads it was,  and off to Bi-District went the 3-7 Jackets.  Llano played a State ranked team in Jacksboro, and lost by about 20 points.

The 1969 team set the table for what many think was the best team in Llano High School history.  The 1970  team was loaded with talent and brains.  Llano went 9-0-1 and 6 players from that team had opportunities to play college football.  In 1969, the team had two running backs with over 1,000 yards rushing.  They both repeated that feat in 1970.  They had two of the most dominate lineman to ever play for Llano.  All-State center and linebacker Hatch Smith, and two way starter Ricky Bauman at offensive and defensive tackle.  Further more they had Earnest Ligon, Kirk Winfrey, Lowry Craven, Rance Bell and Robert Krauss.  All very good football players and all very football smart.  There were 11 seniors.  Senior quarterback Tommy Wallace ran the triple option offense  and was so natural at it.  Tommy handed off to fullback Micky Virdell ( 3,058 career Yards) and speedster Burns Laning ( 2,345 career Yards).   They made few mistakes.  One memory tells me that the 1970 Jackets did not have an off-side penalty all season!

The seniors of 2015 may have set the table for Llano to do something similar in 2016.  Many seniors showed great leadership.  Many showed a never give up attitude that passes down to younger players.  The come from behind to win against Salado.  The must win against Hondo.  The very strong performance against District Champion Navarro.  And the “never saw it coming” over the top performance in beating 8-2 Bi-District foe Crystal City.  The 4-8 record may not look so good to some, but for real students of the game, 4-8 record  might stand out someday to many.  It may remind people of the 1969 Yellow Jackets.  A team still remembered.

Just a short say about Sinton.  They were good.  Llano got off on the right foot when junior John Heflin intercepted a pass on the fifth play of the game.  But three plays later we gave it back  with an interception.  Sinton scored two times on their next two possessions.  Llano scored once, so at the end of the first quarter, Llano still had a chance.  But four penalties over next 3 minutes set the table, and by halftime, it was 35-6 Sinton.  No one ever suggested the effort was not there.  Mistakes and lost opportunities gave Sinton all the chances it needed.  LLano played until the last play.  Seniors should always be proud of their effort and attitude.  It will serve well over the next 40 years.

It now will be interesting to see how Sinton fares against Wimberley, our sister in District 13-4A.  Sinton is picked to beat the Texans by 15 points this week.  Navarro, still in the play-offs, is picked to beat Cuero by 19 points.  Good showing by all in 13-4AAAA.

Maybe the most improved group of the Jackets this season was the defense.  Even with Sinton scoring 49 points, and Brady running up 44 points, the defense gave up an average of 27.3 points per game over 12 games.  This is an improvement of 8.6 points from 2014.  Seniors pointed the way.  Wyatt Bauman, a very sound linebacker with 93 solo tackles and one interception was the team leader.  His motor never stopped.  Pretty good blocker on offense also.  Cornerback Cody Miller made the right plays at so many right times.  His career 12 interceptions is 2nd best all time, one behind former pro football player Bradley Kassell.  Cody actually had more than 12, but penalties prevented others from counting.  Great player. Cody contributed on offense, completing a TD pass against Crystal City, catching passes and running the football all for over 100 yards.  Airon Layton caught 18 passes this season for 272 yards and two TDs. Had 33 solo tackles on defense.   Very sound player.  Mat Agee had 9 passes caught and was very good at cornerback, 32 solo tackles and two passes intercepted.  Wyatt Casey took the reins of quarterback, then switched to cornerback and receiver.  Played very good at every position.  Three  TD passes early in season.  Dorian Green was a very good blocking fullback, an averaged over 3 yards on tough runs up the middle.  Was in on 22 tackles on defense.  Very sound example for our juniors.  Colton Center wore so many hats.  Played center, left and right tackle, kicked off, extra point kicker, and one game sold pop corn.  Used to give muscle in the defensive line when Llano really needed a stop, and LLano ran the football over the massive blocker when we had to have a yard.  Four year starter, and that experience cannot be replaced.

Matt Cohn was a true good example.  May have been best special team player all season.  His hustle on every punt and kick-off improved the Jacket kicking game.  Same can be said of Stratt Stiles.  If # 44 was not there, you could put your money on #51 being there.  Great hustle all season. Dalton Dewveal too played several positions.  caught a pass, blocked well, and was in on 22 tackles, 11 solo.  Great role player.  Luke Snitkin started out #90, then switched to tackle and # 59…sound blocker and played some defense.  Smart player.  Cameron Brumley was pretty good on defense when needed.  But a strong offensive lineman that helped Mason to his 1,000 yard season.  Stood out with 33 blocks in Crystal City game.  Jose Arredondo maybe the most improved player, and got better each game.  Considered by some best blocking lineman on team.  Good reason here for Mason’s success.  Juan Mungia was strong up the middle.  245 pounds of want to.  Saw many great plays by Juna, and was in on 10 tackles.  His effort will be missed. William Oliver’s play not always showing up on stat sheet, but every coach wants a willing role player.  Carried the football, special teams, a true team player.  Christian Rodriquez too carried the football, good blocker and good hustle on special teams.  Got better as season progressed.  Valentine Hernandez had a dream to score a touchdown.  Might not have got that, but my bet is he makes plenty in life.  Great teammate.  Same about Garrett Carlson.  Goal of play-offs  a game short, but still he was reaching for the high fruit.  Keep reaching Garrett.  Another great teammate.

Next week I will write about 2016.  Hopes will be high.  And I think 2015 set the table.  Thank you seniors of 2015.

 

 

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Sinton Ends a Fun Run for Jackets

This will be short, as I will work over the  next few days to check and recheck the record book, additions will be added this week.  Also, will write about the game and the season.  Have found I will have clearer thoughts after a few days of stepping back.

While the seniors still hurt from the game in San Antonio Friday night, there are great memories and great moments.  Even a 4-8 season is the best of times.  Every single player, starter and spot player played on a team with pride and resolve, especially when it had to  save the season.  The percentage is so small when you talk about players that got to play in two state playoff games.  Beating Crystal City was a great Yellow Jacket moment.

See you back here  in a few days.  One thing of interest to some will be the new category I will add to the record book.  Started to do it a few years back, but felt it would be limited.  Now have enough data to make it important.  The thing of pride in this new area is of importance  to the 2015 Yellow Jacket offensive lineman.

So many records are not in the record book.  Just was never enough room or time.  Such things of importance as kick-off and punt return data.  That one comes to mind first.  Back in 1973 when this all began, records were kept on 17 inch ledgers, with a pencil! !…Now at least I can peck around and get info on spread sheets, and no one has helped more than the coaching staffs.  Now each play is rerun so many times, and coaches record the exact numbers, in which over the past 20 years have shared with me for the record book to be pretty accurate.

One last thought.  Have spoken to Superintendent Casey Callahan about moving the record book section of Play To Win to the LISD web page.  I would be excited about that.  I would still be able to add items from my computer and keep records current, but more folks would be able to find this historical information in a logical place.  These records belong to you.  For now, I just have the keys to the door. Would be great if more had the keys. !

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7 Seconds; 48 Minutes: Jackets Romp in Bi-District

Who Wouda Thunk It?

The 3-7 LLano Yellowjackets got their mojo back.  They beat a team they had no business beating, and did so in a style that hid beneath the surface for 3 months.  The much maligned offensive line played better than anyone could have scripted.  Mason Greenwood honored the lineman by scratching and clawing for over 100 yards rushing and over 1,000 yards rushing for the season.  The coaching staff put together a game plan that gave Llano every chance to win.  They surprised when it was not expected.  They ran the football 39 times in a 47 play game. And the defense…well the defense was outstanding against a Crystal City team that was averaging over 30 points a game and brought an 8-2 record into the Bi-District contest played in Bandera Friday night.

Cameron Hall, Jose Arredondo, Colton Center, Cameron Brumley, Ray Dixon, Jaden Napolez, Airon Layton, Brent Greenwood, Mat Agee, Cody Miller, Dalton Dewveall, Robert Alcala, Luke Snitkin and Wyatt Bauman all had their hands in this one.  After the initial run, Llano picked up about 15 extra yards by lineman and receivers getting in behind the ball carrier and “moving the pile”.  It works, and Llano is learning. Mason’s 22 carries and 108 yards were workhorse yards.  Senior John Heflin’s 3 carries for 66 yards were speed and surprise yards.  Sophomore quarterback Ben Walling added 7 carries for 44 yards and 4 first downs just at the right times when the defense expected the handoff to Mason.  Ben kept and went the opposite direction.  Brent Greenwood picked up 16 yards on 3 carries, and Cody got 9 on one try and Airon got 8 more on 2 carries.

The 42 points scored were the most in two years by the Jackets.   Llano had the first surprised play on the first play of the game, a handoff to Cody on the end around play, but pulls up and hits senior Airon in stride for the 63 yard TD and a Llano lead that it never gave up.  Then we passed for two points to senior Dorian Green and Llano was up 8-0 with 17 seconds off the clock.  The very next play, the tone was set, as Llano kicked off. Senior Colton Center  booted  down to the 5 yardline, but a small bobble by the Crystal City returner  was all it took and sophomore Nolan Keller was the first downfield to make the stop at the 8 yardline.  At that moment players and fans alike knew this was something different.  But could we keep it up?

Yep, sure could, and did.  The defense lead by senior Wyatt Bauman and junior Brent Greenwood held the Javelina’s on their first series and forced a punt.  Ray Dixon, Blake Dillard and Airon had key tackles.  Two runs by Mason, and then Ben kept and went 31 yards down to the  11 yardline.  A 10 yard pass from Ben to Mason put the ball on the one, where Ben took it in, and Llano was ahead 15-0 after Colton’s extra point.  There was 6:19 left in the first quarter.

The Javelina’s  are a good football team.  Their next try was good.  They drove the football 12 plays to get on the scoreboard.  Defensive players with tackles were Bauman, Arredondo, Jaden, Miller, Heflin, Center, and continued excellent play by sophomore Ian Fletcher.  Robert  Alcala  may have had his best game.  Dillard gets better and is in on more tackles each game. All teams now must account each play of Ray Dixon and Dillard from their defensive end positions. Love the play of junior Kegan Greenhaw when he comes in to relieve Blake and Ray.  Motor is turned up high.  Jose Soliz, another sophomore is making a name for himself.  Very good game.  2 technique #8 Hunter Roemer is really a deal killer on the inside.  Hard to block.  I would blitz him thru the gap every play!!! (Sorry Coach Slaughter, I sometimes have no control over my thoughts).  Juan Mung, a senior really is strong in the middle.  Great effort….and the secondary of Wyatt Casey, Heflin, Miller, Airon, Mat, Dalton, played well.  Crystal City had to go to their passing game in the second half.  Threw the ball 16 times with 9 completions…91 yards..all good with a great pass rush from up front.  Heflin and Greenwood had outstanding plays.  Cody would have had two more interceptions except for questionable calls by the silent referees.  This aggravation was beyond many things I have seen….after every call, all referees meet and talked for what seemed like minutes.  Sometimes they just waved off flags and went back to play!!!

Llano last won a playoff game before Friday night was in 2008, beating Glen Rose.  This win was special.  Do not remember, but have an idea the last time Llano beat an 8-2 team..I need to look that up.  But I do know we have  beat an 10-0 team.  It can happen again.  And again, we will be picked to lose by about 70 points.  The number 6 team in Div. II, 4-A, Sinton.  These guys will be good.  But so is Llano.  This is your legacy.  This is your history.  And when I tell you this, it is because Llano reputation goes back decades.  No one wants to play Llano.  # 1, you never know what you are going to get, but you do know they will hit you, and they never quit. Never.  Beating Sinton this Friday night in San Antonio would be right up there with the great accomplishments of Llano football.  I know this.  I would rather be Llano and have nothing to lose, than Sinton….with everything to lose.

7 seconds…48 minutes….Llano 29    Sinton 21.

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