Jacket Running Attack Mauls Hondo

Want to talk about keeping secrets?  The Llano Yellow Jackets rushing attack has come “out from the cold”.  Jacket Nation knew that Mason Greenwood was one of the best running backs in all Central Texas. But Mason brought with him to Jacket Stadium Friday night a group of 7 other backs that proved just as dangerous as himself.  The Jackets 408 yards rushing against Hondo was the best output of the season.  The 9.55 yards per carry was over the top. This game was a game changer for this 2016 team that clinched a State Playoff birth, and now sets new goals for a season that many thought was on the ropes.

Loved the new backfield look with junior Josh Soliz lining up at fullback.  The burly Soliz lead the running attack into the hole on most plays, with Mason, senior John Heflin and senior Brent Greenwood taking the ball 35 times.  Freshman Aaron Brown showed his speed with a 62 yard burst in the fourth quarter and his second TD of the night.  His first TD came when he was counting his change  and at the end of the defensive stop by Llano, the ball fell into Aarons hands.  What the heck…run for the goal line and certainly no one was catching the young speedster.  Then you have runs by Travis Wright, Ben Walling, Stephen Sanderson and Soliz and you have the best offensive output of the season for the Jackets.  Mason finished with 215 yards, while John had 91 yards on 9 carries, Brent 4 for 19 yards, and Aaron  3 carries and 73 yards.

Give some credit to the big guys.  I am beginning to believe that this offensive line may be something very special.  No, there are no all-staters in this offensive line.  But steady as you go.  That is the mentality of a very good offensive lineman. You do not run up 408 yards rushing  without very strong blocking on the line.  I thought Nolan Keller had one of his best games.  Senior Cameron Hall with  senior Robert Alcala hold this group together.  Junior Austin Humphrey at 250 pounds gets better every week.  Beginning to be a real force on the defensive line also. T. Lindell has jumped in and has made a hand.  Junior Hayden Cowart continues to improve. Junior Dakoda Trull may be the most improved.  I think players like Trull are “getting it”.  They now are seeing how their size can really produce great leverage situations.  Trull- 235 pounds, Jordan Monroy 240 pounds, Hall at 240 and Humphrey at 250.  I tend to forget, or take for granted one of the Jacket best.  Junior Ray Dixon dominates on both sides of the ball.  Played a tremendous game.  All 235 pounds.  And senior Christian Conway lining up at tight end blocks very well.  He and junior Ian Fletcher both see action there.  Solid twosome.

The Jacket defense is the most improved unit in years.  Hondo had 118 of their yards in the fourth quarter when Llano had the luxury of playing many players.  Hondo too, had a good running attack.  The Jacket defense got two fumbles, and forced 4 punts.  Ian Fletcher had , again, his best game.  Jaden Napolez, a senior, just is so steady.  Great great player.  Drew Cooper, senior John Keeney, junior Tyler Gann, Blake Dillard and Hunter Roemer all played strong.  Kyle Cooper played well.  Love the play of two juniors.  Gage Cox and Luis Coronado.  What energy.  That is how you win football games with that kind of effort.  Shane  Flint had a very good game.  Shane is a senior.  And senior Kegan Greenhaw is always solid.  The defense has allowed the offense to find itself.  Now, working together, this Jacket team can be special.

Bandera is having a down season, but do not let that fool anyone.  Going to Bandera has always been tough for Llano, going back 15 years.  Llano beats Bandera, and they place third in District.  Most likely that would set up a replay of last season, in which we would play Crystal City in Bi-District.  And a win there might give the Jackets an opportunity to get a redemption game with Sinton.  But this is not a time to rest.  Beating Bandera is a serious endeavor.  Staying mad is important.  Do not let lesser talented teams stand in your way of success.  Llano must play smart.  Stop the stupid penalties.  I had Llano with 93 yards of penalties.  Over 100 yards of offense was called back.  Do that again and you might not win.  Beat Bandera soundly and prepare for a real state playoff run.  It starts in Bandera.

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It Is Time to Get Mad

When the Llano Yellow Jackets played with the talent it has, the Jackets played toe to toe with the 14th State ranked Wimberley Texans.  When Llano tries to go outside of its talent, then we fall apart and look like a 2-6 football team.  Llano was lucky that the score was 35-16.  It could have been worse.  Or…on the other side, it could have been much better.  I still run the game over in my mind every minute.  Llano should have won the game.  Llano was just as good as the Texans when Llano does what Llano does best.

Why Llano refuses to take on this identity is beyond me.  The Llano Yellow Jackets run the football.  The Llano Yellow Jackets averaged over 7 yards per carry Friday night.  Of 35 running plays, the Jackets had only two plays for loss yardage.  Two bad plays!!!  7 Yards per try.  Mason Greenwood had 146 yards.  6.64 yards per try.  Brent Greenwood only carried the ball four times, but averaged 7.6 yards per try.  And senior John Heflin carried four times for 66 yards.  Never stopped him. 16 plus yards per run.  16 yards!!!

Yet on all but two series of plays, the Jackets insist on throwing the football.  On 12 passing plays, Llano completed 3.  One for no yards.  One for minus one yard, and one for 26 yards to senior Kyle Cooper and a first down.  The other incompletions just killed dead any chance Llano had of continuing a drive.  In my opinion, had Llano used those 12 plays to run the football, we would have had another 50 yards in offense.  And two more touchdowns.  If only we would do what we are very capable of doing. Running the football.

The old argument is that you must throw the football to loosen up the defense.  That is bunk.  You do not get the linebackers on defense off the line of scrimmage when you only throw long and down the sidelines.  Cornerbacks cover those guys.  Not linebackers.  Llano does not throw over the middle where linebackers would be covering  a back coming out of the backfield or even a tight end.  Llano has rarely thrown over the middle this year.  Give credit where it might be due, but the screen passes to the Greenwoods has been a good pass for the Jackets this season.  That would be the only pass I would throw.

I have heard that Llano’s offensive lineman were not real talented.  If that is the case who has been blocking for Mason and his nearly 900 yards rushing this season.  I think junior Haden Cowart is playing pretty good.  I think seniors Cameron Hall and Robert Alcala are very steady in the run game. Juniors Austin Humphrey and Ray Dixon are at times, excellent.  I see that at times our lineman struggle at pass blocking.  But most teams either are real good at one type of block, and not so on another.  But Llano is solid at run blocking.  Ask Heflin and the Greenwoods if they agree.  Llano can run the football.  But sometimes, it takes three running plays to make a first down.  And with the talent Llano has at running back, it is a great formula for success.  Add in the speed of freshman Aaron Brown, a change of pace of quarterback Ben Walling ( Averaging over 6 yards per carry), senior Blake Dillard ( 20 plus yards on 6 carries), Stephen Sanderson, Shane Flint, and Josh Soliz all with talent at running the football.  Give sophomore Anthony Watson an end around a few times a game, and you have the makings of a running attack.

The Jackets do not need to back into the State play-offs by just beating a very weak Bandera team in the last game of the season.  Going 3-7 should be no ones’ goals.  Hondo handled Bandera easy this past Friday night.  Llano plays Hondo this Friday night in Llano.  Hondo will actually be picked to beat the Jackets according to the Harris poll.  Llano, especially the seniors, need to get mad about everything.  Get mad about my silly comments here today.  Get mad at your girlfriend, or your dog.  But get mad.  But most of all, do not take what Hondo has to offer.  Llano is better than that.  Llano can be a good team.  And going 4-6 for the season is the least of what you should expect of yourselves.  Get mad at Hondo for being in your path to placing third in District play.  But get mad, and play mad.  Beat Hondo like they beat you last year.  And getting mad may be the easiest path by winning out this season.

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Navarro Good, Jackets Show Good Defense

You would never think a 42-0 knockdown by the # 2 ranked 4-AAAA Div. II Navarro Panthers had much to do with defense.  But that is what I took away from the Jackets game Friday night.

The Jackets forced 2 punts in the first quarter and a gave up a total of 88 Yards. Beginning the second quarter, the Jacket defense forced a third punt.  On the Panthers fourth possession, the Panthers drove 66 yards and scored.  Between two Llano turnovers on offense, the defense forced a fourth punt in 5 possessions.  Llano was still fighting its heart out  before the turnovers.  But slowly the air began leaking out of the balloon.  A quick score by the Panthers after the Jacket interception made it 14-0.  Yet, before the half, the Jacket defense again held on the 14 yard line to prevent another score.

The third quarter got no help from Llano’s offense.  A quick three and out from the kick-off, and the next possession on the third play, another fumble.  The gates were open, and the race was on for the 45 point favored Panthers.

Before I forget, I must mention the hustle the Jackets get from our punting and kick  off teams.  Stephen Sanderson and John Keeney, both seniors lead this all out effort.  Senior Shane Flint too is one of the great effort players.  Junior Dylan Tubbs plays very hard.  Junior Tyler Gann, Luis Coronado, senior Taylor Smith, senior Jordan Monroy, senior Neil Blackmon, and senior Christian Conway.  Unsung all.  Top job by all.  You all have saved mountains of yards this season.  Don’t let up.

The defense of Josh Soliz and Ray Dixon are noticeable on every play.  You get where you watch every defensive down to see where they are.  Seniors Blake Dillard and Kegan Greenhaw are part of the gang tackling guys.  Not always first on the scene, but very close.  Senior Brent Greenwood may have had his best defensive game.  Very strong.  Certainly do not like to see senior Kyle Cooper and Brent I on so many tackles from their secondary positions, but they are.  Jaden Napolez was in on 15 assists!  That is playing hard on every play.  And too, I think Ian Fletcher had his most noticeable game.  Big plays all.  Great game by the 180 pound junior.  And Hunter Roemer just causes problems for all teams.  Quick and solid  tackler.  Good game.  Aaron Brown and Austin Humphrey both had solid games.  For 2 1/2 quarters, Llano’s defense stayed with one of the top offenses in the State.

But, you get worn down.  The Jacket offense had 9 possessions of three plays or less.  No rest for the defense, although many play both ways.  But, it is at a different pace.  The all out effort on every play on defense has to have some breaks.  The offense must figure out a way to keep the football.  One run by Mason Greenwood of 67 yards in the first quarter, and a 59 yard pass play to Brent from quarterback Ben Walling that resulted in a turnover, and the Jacket offense was next to nothing.  Take those two plays out and you have 24 yards on 17 plays in the first half. Dixon and senior Robert Alcala had good games on the offensive line.  John Heflin showed he could make yards running and taking pressure off Mason.  But none is enough.

LLano gets another try this week against very long time rival, Wimberley.  The Texans too are highly ranked.  Llano showed Friday night that they can play defense with anyone.  ANYONE.  Let’s add one tiny bit of another ingredient.  Let’s get a turnover.  Get the ball to the offense closer to the goal line.  And let’s make this offense run, and I mean run.  We have 4 players with speed and ability to make yardage running the football.  Let’s get them all involved.  Lets figure out a way to score 21 points. My bet is, if we do, our defense will keep the Texans in check, and Llano will win its first district game of 2016.

LLano 21   Wimberley 19

Players of the Game:  Ian Fletcher and Brent Greenwood.

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Eastside Welcome Relief…Now back to Business- Navarro

One Jacket parent said it was so wonderful to see the Jackets happy on the sidelines.  That it was.  The Jackets 62-7 win was against a very inexperienced Eastside team playing their first year of varsity football.  But a win is a win.

On a side note, when Westlake began their football program, Llano beat them the first two years we played.  Not a lot of data available on the next two contest!!!  But look this up …Llano has played Lake Travis 8 times.  Yes, that Lake Travis.  Record is 8-0 Llano !!!

Another side note:  I do have the school records back up and running.  Records  have been down since the week of the Smithville game.  Several problems on entering data.  But my great IT man, Barry Best has us up and going.  I was able to enter the updates of this season.  Will try to keep up now.

The 2016 season gets serious now.  District play is a whole different game.  Every game means something.  Every play can mean a lot.  Playing # 2 Navarro in the first game is a challenge and an opportunity.  Navarro is ranked at the # 2 position in the Harris Poll in 4-AAAA Div. II.  They come into our game this Friday night in Yellow Jacket Stadium 5-0.  Llano has only played Navarro two times previously, in 2014 and 2015.  The Jackets lost by a combined score of 93-7.  Llano can and should do better.  I have felt from the beginning that the Jackets could hold their own with anyone on our schedule.  Talent is on the field.  But relaxing on critical third down plays, penalties, and 12 turnovers this year thru 6 games have caused mayhem.  Eliminate any two of those mistakes and the Jackets can compete.  All of this is the mental part of football.  Concentration on every single play.  Knowing what to anticipate.  Llano has talent in every position on the field.  Llano can compete against Navarro, but everything must come together.  It is easy to say, but playing as a team is so important.

The seniors have a new season ahead of them.  There has never been a Jacket senior that played his heart out that had regretted doing so.  Llano has got to get that feeling back, so when they walk off the field Friday night there are no regrets.  And Navarro will remember the game as one they would not want to play again.

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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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