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.