2017 Has Been a Good Start

Everyone likes to be a part of something big.  Something that is important.  Something that is lasting.  And I think that is what 2017 will look like to the seniors of 2017…someday.  It may still be too fresh from but two weeks ago to lose a 20-14  game that was just moments away from being a 14-6 winner. With 3:44 left in the game, Llano scored on a great play by senior Ben Walling, snatching a pass away from a defensive back from Crystal City for Llano to take the lead, deep in the corner of the Javelinas’ end zone.

Fate had other ideas.  Despite the Jacket defense holding two 1,000 yard season rushers to 52 total rushing yards.  Despite holding the Javelinas on two fourth down tries.  Despite an interception by senior Tyler Gann. Despite forcing 3 punts.  And despite throwing Javelina runners for losses or no gains on 11 plays for a minus 45 yards.  Llano still was unable to hold the advantage.  Had you asked Head Coach Matt Green would he take those numbers before the game began, he could not have shouted “yes” quick enough.

Still, as I said last week, this one will take some time for wounds to heal.  We can remember  the great parts.  Senior Mason Greenwood had a solid game of 10 carries and 101 yards rushing, with the wonderful 60 yard run in the fourth quarter.  Pushed Mason’s rushing totals to 6th all-time in the record books.  Saw injured Lois Coronado still playing hard despite not having played in three weeks, and finishing as the teams leading tackler for the year.  Also, we did miss our “other” great senior linebacker Ian Fletcher who was unable to play. ( Still wish for Christmas, Ian is defensive player of the District) Hope we have some wonderful sophomore and juniors are getting ready to step up.  Big shoes to fill.

Can’t say enough about our best defensive line in years and years.  Never had two bookends like Ray Dixon and Daniel Sparks.  Both were monsters.  Both dominated everyone they played.  And, both had interceptions on the season.  In there somewhere was the one and only Josh Soliz.  Provided two highlight plays in which he made hurtful tackles!!!.  The one against the Javelinas was “how you play football”.  Going back to when Josh as a sophomore when he blocked a punt.  What a wonderful career.  And from no where to playing so great, senior Dalton Bauman too was just so quick, and had so many plays where he forced loss yards.  Tough Guy.  Austin Humphrey played up to his ability every week.  Sound tough player in the middle.  And a pretty fair punter.   These four seniors were leaders.  Their job is not over.  With their encouragement, and sound advice, these players can continue to show how special they were as players, and how special they can be as Exes.

Senior Hayden Godfrey caught 11 passes for 171 yards.  A nice 15.5 yards per catch.  Good downfield blocker also. Nolan Keller was a great role player.  Good blocker, good on defense, good on special teams.  Solid player.  The kind of player that no team can win, without a player like Nolan. Still remember his great catch as a receiver in a last season game.

I watched Quint Percelli many times on special teams.  Hustled like it was his last play ever, everytime.  Great job.  Our secondary will miss Tyler Gann, Gage Cox, Cole Schlueter, and Godfrey.  These guys had the hardest job on the team.  Our defensive line helped some, but often I looked down on the field and watched as these players lined up all alone against our opponents best and fastest receivers.  For the most part, Llano played very good.  Gage and Tyler were really good, and good open field tacklers.  Both will be missed.  We lose two positions in Hayden.

Cannot forget how good Anthony Watson could have been.  Had some great games as a first class receiver.  Hurt in his junior year, and most of his senior season. His name is sprinkled in the record book under ” top single game” yardage.  I already miss you.

Llano’s offense was pretty darn good in 2017.  Nearly 400 yards offense per game.  Averaged 29.7 points per game.  4 games scored over 45 points.  All vast improvements from the past 6 years.  Mason played great in an injured season.  Ben Walling showed he was one tough player, with 102 carries and 565  yards, for a 5.54 yards per run.  Other seniors contributed.  But the seniors on the offensive line was the key to this success.  Coach Green benefited from having the likes of experience on this team.  But, under Green, they changed how they played.  They played tough, and they played mean.  Several should receive recognition from the All-District picks.  I hope at least 4 get the nod.  But in no real order, remember their names.  They helped change the culture in Llano football.  Dakota Trull ( 2 yr. starter), Cameron Johnson (2 yr. starter), Ray Dixon( 4 Yr. starter), Daniel Sparks (Our best transfer), Lane Ward, Tyler Thompson, Hayden Cowert ( 2 yrs.), Austin Humphrey ( Played both sides of ball many games),  With Godfrey, Keller, and Dalton Bauman all making big contributions.  These guys blocked the Jackets to gaining more yards than Crystal City had.  These guys someday will see that blocking for a passer that throws for over 1,700 yards is special.  These players will remember the good things, and this is one of them. ( In 1967, Randy Scott rushed for over 1,050 yards in 10 games, enroute to an 8-2 season.  I still am proud that I helped block for Randy, a LHS Hall of Famer).

Cannot forget one great surprise.  Diego Garcia.  29 of 32 extra points (90%).  2 of 2 on field goals.  Fantastic senior, fantastic year.  You are in the record book Diego.  #51 on your jersey.  # 1 in our hearts.

I will write in about a week.  I have been working on the record book.  Many 2017 players are in there.  But, need help.  If you are a player, let me know if I left something out. (E-Mail: mvirdell@virdellrealestate.com).  I still find things from decades ago that get entered.  We want this record book right.  It belongs to you. Next week we will talk about who returns in 2018. ( if you are a senior and I left you out, please email me!!!)

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