The Fighting Llano YellowJackets did the “hard to watch beat down” of Eastside Memorial at House Park Friday night to take a 58-0 win and assure Llano its’ first winning season since 2008. Most all Jackets got into the game, and a small preview of JV players also played most of the game.
Now, on to serious stuff. The Jackets play the Hondo Owls at Alamo Stadium this Friday night in the Bi-District contest. Llano placed 4th in our district, and Hondo won their district. Number 1 plays number 4. I am sure this has never happened before, playing a team for the second time in the same season for the Jackets. Llano lost to Hondo back in the first game of the season here at Jacket Stadium, 29-26, when the Owls scored the go ahead TD with :04 seconds left on the clock.
What has happened since then? Well…Llano has gotten better. More confidence. Hondo has gotten better. Stronger running game. Hondo mauled Crystal City for the District Crown last Friday night, 31-6.
Just a bit of history. In the first game, Hondo ran all over Llano when they took an early lead. In the first quarter, Hondo had 146 yards rushing in 18 tries, and one pass completion for 18 more yards. It was not until the early part of the fourth quarter that Llano was able to take the lead when sophomore Case Kuykendall returned a punt for 68 yards giving the Jackets an 26-21 lead. Small issue. Llano only ran four more plays that last quarter. Hondo had 17, and the last one was all that mattered. An 11 yard TD pass.
How does Llano win? Glad you asked….The Jackets averaged 31.6 points per game this season. A pretty healthy number. But maybe just as impressive, the Jacket defense has improved more. In 10 games, the defense allowed 18.3 points per game. That is the best since 2007, when the 9-4 Jackets allowed 20.46 points per game. I will be going all the back in the record book to see where this good Jacket defense ranks with many of the best over the past two decades.
There will be many entries into the record book this year. I usually do this when the season is over. Many of the usual suspects will see their names entered. Cade Fly climbs higher with each completed pass. Prince has entered the picture. Case. Brooke. And surprise player of the year, sophomore Diego Miguel…our extra point man, field goal kicker, and kick off man. The kick offs into the end zone alone are a mighty weapon.
All of these players have gotten better. Your seniors that do everything….players like Kendall Downey, Drew Cooper, Mason Brooks, Ethan Tisdale, Thomas Adams, Kaleb Dodson, Christian Kirby, Dylan Inge, Joe Pagany, Iver Godo, and senior cornerback Presley Lynch. Few have gotten better than our young linebackers. Goodness, are they good? Yep…give me Ryan Warner, Logan Duggar, and Mason Baker anytime. Along with Jacob Cruz, Quinton Franklin, Aiden Cuthbertson, Justin Yocum and Guillermo Davila you have players that have matured. I cannot believe that these defensive players will allow Hondo to run all over them. August 31 was a long time ago.
But, I mentioned….Llano is averaging 31.6 points a game…7 games this season over 24 points. Easy to mention Mason and Brooke and Ethan. But the Jacket offensive line has improved so much. They even have fewer penalties!!..But you have to start with senior Tyler Lindell…the leader of this bunch of rug rats. Always getting dirty I’ve noticed. Seniors Alex Shaw, Ethan Eastwood, and Jason Stark…all very improved since August. And the young ones, Shawn Hensley, Jose Villa, Heath Godfrey,and Luke Hicks. Getting better every game.
What do I think….Llano has got to go into this game with confidence. The Jackets have to know their tentative play in the August 31 game cost them the win. Llano now knows they can play with these guys. But they must do it from the get go. No waiting for something to happen. Being aggressive, yet under control. Penalties killed Llano in the August game. Play your best game. Leave the field knowing you did everything you physically are capable of….leave it all out there…and bring home win #7. That will be so special for all of you. All of you seniors.
I expect the defense to play their best game. Stopping the Hondo running game will be a challenge, but this defense can tackle, and gang tackle like few I have seen. Control one side of the scoreboard, and I know Mason and Donaven Arrellano, and Cade can control the other side. Exciting time for this team. I just know Yocum, Kirby, Downey, Tisdale, Adams, Dodson, Keele, still have plays in them. Run the ball, and get Case and Prince the ball, and run the ball, and get the ball to Brooks and Thomas, and run the ball….I guess you see what I see…a Big Jacket win. See you in San Antonio…