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.