The Llano Yellow Jackets took it on the end of the nose Friday night against Smithville. One might think for a moment that maybe the Jackets were just over confident against a team that had lost 18 of their last 19 games. Or a team in which Llano beat last season by two touchdowns. But I am afraid it is not as it seems.
The hardest job new head football Coach Matt Green will have this season will be teaching our Jackets how to win. And Friday night was and will be a good teaching moment. When the Yellow Jackets opened the game by kicking off to the Tigers, Llano was ready to play. The Tigers started out on their 34 yard line and drove 12 plays down to the Jackets 16 yard line. Twice on third down, the Tigers made first downs. But inside the Jackets 20, Llano held on a run for no yards, and forced an incomplete pass. Llano had the ball. From the first snap, seniors Ben Walling, Ian Fletcher, Tyler Gann, Daniel Sparks, Jose Soliz, Austin Humphrey, and Ray Dixon hustled, gang tackled, and did everything Coach Green had hoped they would do.
Llano had the ball. Drove 84 yards, 8 running plays. 6 passes. Big 30 yard gain when junior quarterback Cade Fly hit Kaleb Dodson for a big first down after being third down and 20. Junior Mason Brooks ran 5 times for 32 yards. Fly also completed a 9 yard pass to Walling and a first down, and then ran in for the TD from 5 yards out. Walling had 15 yards on two carries. Crisp blocking by Hayden Godfrey, Luke Williams, Sparks, Dixon, Tyler Lindell, and Dalton Bauman all had it going in the first quarter.
But the following kick-off, the tide changed. But not on the first play. Dalton Bauman broke threw the line and threw Tigers’ running back Nomar Rivera for a 6 yard loss. Then the back breaker. The Tigers threw a long pass that was well defended, yet into the hands of a Tiger receiver and 90 yards later, the score was 8-7, still Llano. I have to think something, at that moment, changed the Jackets .
That black cloud appeared, and so many things happened wrong.
A bad snap that cost Llano 19 yards. A bad punt of only 11 yards. An interception. 16 yards rushing on 11 carries. 0-6-1 passing. All in the second quarter.
Llano clawed back late in the third quarter when on a fullback pass from Walling to Brooks Keele for a 24 yard TD and the score was 14-28. But the mistakes did us in. I had Llano down for 12 penalties. Three turnovers.
The teams exchanged scores in the fourth period. Llano had a 45 yard pass completion late from Fly to sophomore Aaron Brown on a screen play. Brooks got Llano’s last score near the end to bring the final score to 35-21. Sparks had a good game. Walling good on both sides of the ball. Fly will be good when he settlers down. This is his team now. His gaining a big leadership roll is important. I want to see more from our good players. Nolan Keller, Christian Kirby, Dakota Trull, and Luis Coronado. They are good football players. Don’t wait for someone else to make the plays. All must really take it up a notch.
Two weeks ago I said that I thought that the Sonora game was winnable. Still do. Our over-all record against the Broncos is 5-5. They were 12-2 last season, and Llano did not play well last year in Sonora. I really think with more “thinking”, the Jackets will win. Jumping off sides is mental. Nothing physical about it. Getting into too much of a hurry creates more mistakes. Slow down Llano. Make every play count. Take it upon yourself to not make the mistakes that kills drives or extend their drives. Beating a good team like Sonora can make this season fun. Settle down, play one play at a time, and beat the Broncos.
I mentioned about learning how to win. When you are up 8-0, the only thing the team needs to be thinking is 16-0. 24-0. 32-0. Put your foot on their neck and never let them up. 8-0 is no time to feel good. It is the beginning. Not the end. Start thinking about putting folks away by pilling the points on. Put Smithville behind you. Don’t let those Tigers effect how you play this week.