Defense Shines as Jackets Secure Playoff Birth

According to my media magnets, Art Duluge and side kick Lance Center, the Yellowjackets 12 point victory over Hondo Friday night secured the 4th place spot in District 13-4A.  The point system, should there be a tie, like with Lytle, Hondo and Llano at the end of the season was developed by NASCAR fuel engineers to insure balance and fairness.  I just have never really got the grasp of it, so I let others like Art and Lance explain in English.  They say we are in!

Llano scored 32 points in the victory, second only to the 41 Llano put on Bangs.  Llano finished 3-2 on the new artificial turf in the first season. Sophomore quarterback Ben Walling  threw for more than 140 yards.  The Jackets had nearly 400 yards of offense.  All numbers that it takes to win games.  But this night has to go to the defense.  Hondo had the football 6 possessions the first half.  The defense held either forcing a punt, or holding on fourth down five of those times.  Hondo scored on its 5th possession after a Llano fumble and got the ball on the 34 yard line for a short score.  Play after play senior linebacker Wyatt Bauman and his defense held.  Who plays harder than junior safety Brent Greenwood?  Great pass rush from junior Blake Dillard, Hunter Roemer, Roberto Alcala and sophomore Ray Dixon.  Never stopped their motors, and what little passing game Hondo may have had, it was under assault.  I had the Owls with less than 100 yards passing.  Senior Cody Miller, while not adding to his team leading 5 interceptions this year had an exceptional game including great run backs on punts and kick-offs.  Great senior year.  So too with John Heflin.  I write down #2 a lot.  Great safety sac and a 9 yard loss by John in the third quarter that killed a drive.  Sophomore Ian Fletcher continues to get better at linebacker ,or wherever he lines up….this defense should be proud.  They are pretty darn good.

Sophomore running back Mason Greenwood now has over 900 yards rushing.  It will be a chore for him to get another 100 yards against one of the top teams in the state next week against Navarro.  But the improvement of senior Jose Arrendondo at tackle could be the key.  Senior Colton Center is having a great year, along with improving Dixon, Cameron Hall, a junior, and senior Luke Snitkin.  Senior Cameron Brumley has helped with the heavy lifting, as also Alcala, a junior. The running game is the key.  Walling’s passing game must have the ground game for Llano to get folks open.  Walling’s pass to Mason in the first quarter for the 74 yard score was an example of a team looking for the run.  A thing of pride is when an offensive line can look back and know it blocked well enough to have a 1,000 yard rusher.  Get it for Mason.  Get it for yourselves.

Loved the play of going for two after TDs.  Junior Jaden Napolez worked his magic and sneaked into the back of the end zone where Walling found him for two points and Llano took a 20-6 lead.  Jaden usually lines up at tight end and this is not the norm, unless you are Jason Witten.  Very good play.  Airon Layton gives Llano speed and deception at the right times.  His 48 yard TD catch really shows the Jackets potential. Senior Matt Agee is another good example of quickness and ability to find an opening and caught a 7 yard pass for a first down.

Need to mention the special teams.  Two times Hondo tried on side kicks.  Senior Dalton Dewveall played the first one perfect.  Great save for Llano.  Dixon covered the second one.  Fletcher, William Oliver, Jason Gann, Dorian Green, Matt Cohen and Sterling Rogers all have played hard on teams that get little notice unless there is a mistake.  Center’s kickoffs are a treat for me, as compared to former years when Llano consistently allowed teams to set up their offenses near the fifty yard line.  Strong coverage from these guys.

Llano coaches were a first class act when at a time in the fourth quarter into the game came the mob squad.  Oliver, Christian Rodriquez,  and Sterling came into the game and all got to carry the football. It was meaningful minutes.  Hondo still had time to score again.  Great to see their effort.

There is still work to do.  To be blunt, Navarro, #3 ranking according to Harris Poll, will be tough at home.  Likely a 50 point favorite over the Jackets!  So there is the challenge. Llano does not go home.  Navarro needs to know Llano is one tough little football team, and will have no interest in rolling over.

LLano can make this there game, not the game of Navarro.  The 90 yards in penalties against Hondo was horrible.  Llano played Lakeview and I think only had a 5 yard penalty.  Make that  your goal.  Llano had 5 bad snaps/quarterback drops/fumbles.  Will not work against Navarro. Make it a priority.  No turnovers.  And last, wrap up and force those punts.  You could surprise yourselves when you play mistake free football.  Stranger things have happened.  Make the trip to Navarro one you will long remember, with no regrets.

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