Crystal City in Bi-District- Thursday @ 7:30 PM

The bad taste in the Llano Yellow Jackets mouth from playing at Edgewood Veterans Stadium in San Antonio last year  can be cleansed this Thursday night when the Jackets return.  But this time the Jackets play last year’s Bi District foe, the Crystal City Javelinas.  Llano beat Crystal City  last season while playing at Bandera Stadium.  The game is on Thursday evening.  If you show up on Friday, you will see the Wimberley game.

The 4-6 Jackets play a repeat of the game from last season.  The Javelinas are 7-3 this season.  Going by statistics on their web-site, they are a running team.  They average throwing the ball about 7 times a game and producing 58 yards per game.  But the Javelinas average about 165 yards a game running the football.  Just as last year’s contest, they will just line up at you and try to get you to stop it.  Last year, the Jackets best game was against the Javelinas.  The defense played worthy.  The offense was better. The 16 point win last season was highlighted with Mason Greenwood and John Heflin rushing 25 times for 174 yards.  Also, Brent Greenwood and Ben Walling rushed 10 more times for 60 yards.  All Jackets are back for this contest.  Missing this season will be the pass play by then senior Cody Miller for a 68 yard scoring toss. Otherwise, most all Jackets return for Thursday night.

Since no one has asked, I will give you my idea of what needs to happen.  Run the football.  And when in doubt, run the football.  And when there is a real head scratcher, run the football.  If we did pass,  throwing over the middle behind the linebackers, or throwing to a tight end, or a streaking Anthony Watson beating a safety.  But only when even I would not suspect it was coming!!  This Jacket team has found a formula.  It looks to me the offensive line feels very comfortable in run blocking.  Lead by seniors Robert Alcala, Cameron Hall, and good effort from seniors Jason Gann and Travis Wright blocking downfield.  I feel that that senior Christian Conway will play hard as he has all season.  When the possibilities of this being ones last football game, Brent Greenwood will leave it all on the field.  Same with Blake Dillard, Hunter Roemer, John Keeney and Jaden Napolez.  All folks that should get credit for this much improved Yellow Jacket defense.  Continued great play from senior Kyle Cooper and Kegan Greenhaw.  And back ups  that has not disappointed in Jordan Monroy, Shane Flint and Taylor Smith.  Thomas Westermann has played strong his senior year.  So too for Bradley Dyess, and Neil Blackman.  And no one plays harder on special teams than senior Stephen Sanderson.  He with junior Luis Coronado dominate special teams play.  I having a funny feeling, but I think senior John Heflin will show up.  This is a game for the seniors.  Go play your hearts out.

Llano 46   Crystal City 20

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Bandera Victory Nets Jackets 3rd Place Finish in District

It was not pretty, nor assured, but the Llano Yellow Jackets wore down a weak Bandera team at Bandera Friday night to claim third place in District 13 4AAAA Div. II.  The win puts the Jackets into the State Playoffs for the second year in a row and the third time in Coach Craig Slaughters five years in Llano.  The 4-6 Jackets have the final week of the season as their “OPEN” date, and will take this week to mend and prepare.

In a nutshell, Llano played sluggish…I guess.  The Jackets opened by taking the opening kick-off from the 44 yard line after Bandera did an on side kick to open the game.  Senior Travis Wright secured the kick and Llano began an 8 play drive that was stopped on the Bandera 36 yard line.  But on Bandera’s first play, a fumble caused by senior Blake Dillard and junior Ray Dixon had Llano back with the ball.  Six plays later senior Brent Greenwood scored from 3 yards out.  With Mason Greenwoods’ run for two points, Llano lead 8-0.

Again, on Bandera’s first play after the kick-off, Brent Greenwood stepped in front of a pass and had his first of two interceptions for the night.  Next a Jacket fumble.  Then a Bandera score.  The second quarter may go into some kind of record book, but I have not started the “strangest things” book…yet.

Bandera on side kicked again.  This time they got the ball.  Llano held, but had a 10 yard penalty, one of 9 for the night.  Bandera took the ball for three first downs, but were forced to punt.  Llano fumbled.  Llano forced another punt.  But not after Bandera had run 7 plays, 6 for negative yards, and one incompletion.  Bandera punted again after very strong line play from Dillard, Dixon, seniors Hunter Roemer, Kegan Greenhaw and linebacker Ian Fletcher.  Llano was three and out.  Bandera then takes it down on 8 plays for a TD.  Llano had two 15 yard penalties on Bandera’ drive.  The Bulldogs lead at halftime 13-8.

Llano had run 7 plays in the quarter, 7 yards rushing, and 1 for 4 passing for minus 2 yards.  3 penalties for 40 yards.  Bandera ran the ball 17 times for a minus 3 yards.  The Bulldogs were 2 of 6 passing for 11 yards.  Total:  8 yards in the quarter, but came away with 13 points.

Only with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter was Brent able to get his second interception and Llano was able score with 1:31 left in the quarter to take the score to 14-13.  New fullback, junior Josh Soliz caught a screen pass from quarterback Ben Walling and Josh bulldozed down to the 9 yard line and a 25 yard gain.  Brent caught a 7 yard pass from Walling that put the Jackets ahead for good.

Llano dominated the fourth quarter.  Bandera managed a minus 12 yards rushing, and completed two passes for 15 yards.  Llano had over 106 yards rushing on 15 carries, and threw one incomplete pass.  Senior John Heflin scored with 3:17 left in the game on a 24 yard burst right up the middle to score.  John too added the two point after run, and Llano had 22.  John finished the game with 93 yards on 17 carries.  Mason carried 22 times  and had 113 yards rushing.

This game Llano played down to its competition.  But does not matter now.  A win is a win.  The 4-6 Jackets must start the mental conditioning of being ready in two weeks to play Bi-District.  The mental mistakes Friday night were not from lack of effort.  The 9 penalties were just horrible.  Must be corrected.  Taking two weeks off can be a killer, or a produce a big time bust of getting ready to play.  The Jackets have a second life.  It can be short lived if the next 12 days are not cashed in on.  This is a moment the seniors must take charge.  Getting win # 5 should be the most important thing you have ever done.

Must mention the offensive line and blockers.   Played pretty good.  Cameron Hall, a senior is playing at a top level.  So too is junior Austin Humphrey.  Play of Robert Alcala, Dakoda Trull, Christian Conway, Nolan Keller, Hayden Cowart, and T. Lindell, all have gotten better.  Jason Gann, Shane Flint and Anthony Watson block good downfield. Ray, and Jaden Napolez  are studs.  Great effort.  Ian Fletcher is an all district linebacker.

Our secondary is the most improved.  Tyler Gann, and Anthony Watson.  Keep it up.  Brent as the leader.  Drew Cooper.  And Kyle Cooper has really played great.  Keep getting better, and you keep playing.

We will take another look in a few days.  But new goals need to be set.  Llano can play with many teams.  Winning in Bi District is where it starts.

 

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Jacket Running Attack Mauls Hondo

Want to talk about keeping secrets?  The Llano Yellow Jackets rushing attack has come “out from the cold”.  Jacket Nation knew that Mason Greenwood was one of the best running backs in all Central Texas. But Mason brought with him to Jacket Stadium Friday night a group of 7 other backs that proved just as dangerous as himself.  The Jackets 408 yards rushing against Hondo was the best output of the season.  The 9.55 yards per carry was over the top. This game was a game changer for this 2016 team that clinched a State Playoff birth, and now sets new goals for a season that many thought was on the ropes.

Loved the new backfield look with junior Josh Soliz lining up at fullback.  The burly Soliz lead the running attack into the hole on most plays, with Mason, senior John Heflin and senior Brent Greenwood taking the ball 35 times.  Freshman Aaron Brown showed his speed with a 62 yard burst in the fourth quarter and his second TD of the night.  His first TD came when he was counting his change  and at the end of the defensive stop by Llano, the ball fell into Aarons hands.  What the heck…run for the goal line and certainly no one was catching the young speedster.  Then you have runs by Travis Wright, Ben Walling, Stephen Sanderson and Soliz and you have the best offensive output of the season for the Jackets.  Mason finished with 215 yards, while John had 91 yards on 9 carries, Brent 4 for 19 yards, and Aaron  3 carries and 73 yards.

Give some credit to the big guys.  I am beginning to believe that this offensive line may be something very special.  No, there are no all-staters in this offensive line.  But steady as you go.  That is the mentality of a very good offensive lineman. You do not run up 408 yards rushing  without very strong blocking on the line.  I thought Nolan Keller had one of his best games.  Senior Cameron Hall with  senior Robert Alcala hold this group together.  Junior Austin Humphrey at 250 pounds gets better every week.  Beginning to be a real force on the defensive line also. T. Lindell has jumped in and has made a hand.  Junior Hayden Cowart continues to improve. Junior Dakoda Trull may be the most improved.  I think players like Trull are “getting it”.  They now are seeing how their size can really produce great leverage situations.  Trull- 235 pounds, Jordan Monroy 240 pounds, Hall at 240 and Humphrey at 250.  I tend to forget, or take for granted one of the Jacket best.  Junior Ray Dixon dominates on both sides of the ball.  Played a tremendous game.  All 235 pounds.  And senior Christian Conway lining up at tight end blocks very well.  He and junior Ian Fletcher both see action there.  Solid twosome.

The Jacket defense is the most improved unit in years.  Hondo had 118 of their yards in the fourth quarter when Llano had the luxury of playing many players.  Hondo too, had a good running attack.  The Jacket defense got two fumbles, and forced 4 punts.  Ian Fletcher had , again, his best game.  Jaden Napolez, a senior, just is so steady.  Great great player.  Drew Cooper, senior John Keeney, junior Tyler Gann, Blake Dillard and Hunter Roemer all played strong.  Kyle Cooper played well.  Love the play of two juniors.  Gage Cox and Luis Coronado.  What energy.  That is how you win football games with that kind of effort.  Shane  Flint had a very good game.  Shane is a senior.  And senior Kegan Greenhaw is always solid.  The defense has allowed the offense to find itself.  Now, working together, this Jacket team can be special.

Bandera is having a down season, but do not let that fool anyone.  Going to Bandera has always been tough for Llano, going back 15 years.  Llano beats Bandera, and they place third in District.  Most likely that would set up a replay of last season, in which we would play Crystal City in Bi-District.  And a win there might give the Jackets an opportunity to get a redemption game with Sinton.  But this is not a time to rest.  Beating Bandera is a serious endeavor.  Staying mad is important.  Do not let lesser talented teams stand in your way of success.  Llano must play smart.  Stop the stupid penalties.  I had Llano with 93 yards of penalties.  Over 100 yards of offense was called back.  Do that again and you might not win.  Beat Bandera soundly and prepare for a real state playoff run.  It starts in Bandera.

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It Is Time to Get Mad

When the Llano Yellow Jackets played with the talent it has, the Jackets played toe to toe with the 14th State ranked Wimberley Texans.  When Llano tries to go outside of its talent, then we fall apart and look like a 2-6 football team.  Llano was lucky that the score was 35-16.  It could have been worse.  Or…on the other side, it could have been much better.  I still run the game over in my mind every minute.  Llano should have won the game.  Llano was just as good as the Texans when Llano does what Llano does best.

Why Llano refuses to take on this identity is beyond me.  The Llano Yellow Jackets run the football.  The Llano Yellow Jackets averaged over 7 yards per carry Friday night.  Of 35 running plays, the Jackets had only two plays for loss yardage.  Two bad plays!!!  7 Yards per try.  Mason Greenwood had 146 yards.  6.64 yards per try.  Brent Greenwood only carried the ball four times, but averaged 7.6 yards per try.  And senior John Heflin carried four times for 66 yards.  Never stopped him. 16 plus yards per run.  16 yards!!!

Yet on all but two series of plays, the Jackets insist on throwing the football.  On 12 passing plays, Llano completed 3.  One for no yards.  One for minus one yard, and one for 26 yards to senior Kyle Cooper and a first down.  The other incompletions just killed dead any chance Llano had of continuing a drive.  In my opinion, had Llano used those 12 plays to run the football, we would have had another 50 yards in offense.  And two more touchdowns.  If only we would do what we are very capable of doing. Running the football.

The old argument is that you must throw the football to loosen up the defense.  That is bunk.  You do not get the linebackers on defense off the line of scrimmage when you only throw long and down the sidelines.  Cornerbacks cover those guys.  Not linebackers.  Llano does not throw over the middle where linebackers would be covering  a back coming out of the backfield or even a tight end.  Llano has rarely thrown over the middle this year.  Give credit where it might be due, but the screen passes to the Greenwoods has been a good pass for the Jackets this season.  That would be the only pass I would throw.

I have heard that Llano’s offensive lineman were not real talented.  If that is the case who has been blocking for Mason and his nearly 900 yards rushing this season.  I think junior Haden Cowart is playing pretty good.  I think seniors Cameron Hall and Robert Alcala are very steady in the run game. Juniors Austin Humphrey and Ray Dixon are at times, excellent.  I see that at times our lineman struggle at pass blocking.  But most teams either are real good at one type of block, and not so on another.  But Llano is solid at run blocking.  Ask Heflin and the Greenwoods if they agree.  Llano can run the football.  But sometimes, it takes three running plays to make a first down.  And with the talent Llano has at running back, it is a great formula for success.  Add in the speed of freshman Aaron Brown, a change of pace of quarterback Ben Walling ( Averaging over 6 yards per carry), senior Blake Dillard ( 20 plus yards on 6 carries), Stephen Sanderson, Shane Flint, and Josh Soliz all with talent at running the football.  Give sophomore Anthony Watson an end around a few times a game, and you have the makings of a running attack.

The Jackets do not need to back into the State play-offs by just beating a very weak Bandera team in the last game of the season.  Going 3-7 should be no ones’ goals.  Hondo handled Bandera easy this past Friday night.  Llano plays Hondo this Friday night in Llano.  Hondo will actually be picked to beat the Jackets according to the Harris poll.  Llano, especially the seniors, need to get mad about everything.  Get mad about my silly comments here today.  Get mad at your girlfriend, or your dog.  But get mad.  But most of all, do not take what Hondo has to offer.  Llano is better than that.  Llano can be a good team.  And going 4-6 for the season is the least of what you should expect of yourselves.  Get mad at Hondo for being in your path to placing third in District play.  But get mad, and play mad.  Beat Hondo like they beat you last year.  And getting mad may be the easiest path by winning out this season.

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Navarro Good, Jackets Show Good Defense

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.

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Eastside Welcome Relief…Now back to Business- Navarro

One Jacket parent said it was so wonderful to see the Jackets happy on the sidelines.  That it was.  The Jackets 62-7 win was against a very inexperienced Eastside team playing their first year of varsity football.  But a win is a win.

On a side note, when Westlake began their football program, Llano beat them the first two years we played.  Not a lot of data available on the next two contest!!!  But look this up …Llano has played Lake Travis 8 times.  Yes, that Lake Travis.  Record is 8-0 Llano !!!

Another side note:  I do have the school records back up and running.  Records  have been down since the week of the Smithville game.  Several problems on entering data.  But my great IT man, Barry Best has us up and going.  I was able to enter the updates of this season.  Will try to keep up now.

The 2016 season gets serious now.  District play is a whole different game.  Every game means something.  Every play can mean a lot.  Playing # 2 Navarro in the first game is a challenge and an opportunity.  Navarro is ranked at the # 2 position in the Harris Poll in 4-AAAA Div. II.  They come into our game this Friday night in Yellow Jacket Stadium 5-0.  Llano has only played Navarro two times previously, in 2014 and 2015.  The Jackets lost by a combined score of 93-7.  Llano can and should do better.  I have felt from the beginning that the Jackets could hold their own with anyone on our schedule.  Talent is on the field.  But relaxing on critical third down plays, penalties, and 12 turnovers this year thru 6 games have caused mayhem.  Eliminate any two of those mistakes and the Jackets can compete.  All of this is the mental part of football.  Concentration on every single play.  Knowing what to anticipate.  Llano has talent in every position on the field.  Llano can compete against Navarro, but everything must come together.  It is easy to say, but playing as a team is so important.

The seniors have a new season ahead of them.  There has never been a Jacket senior that played his heart out that had regretted doing so.  Llano has got to get that feeling back, so when they walk off the field Friday night there are no regrets.  And Navarro will remember the game as one they would not want to play again.

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Fumbles Do Jackets In- Defense Playing Stronger

The Burnet Bulldogs, ranked 23 in 4-AAAA Div.I, raced to a 29-0 halftime lead due to an interception run back for a TD, and three consecutive fumbles that were cashed in for an additional 13 points.  Take the mistakes out and Llano was somewhat competitive..   Can’t take anything away from the offense of the Bulldogs.  Drove the field on Llano twice in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead into the end of the quarter.  Then the Jackets interception made it 16-0.  Can’t look past the so slow start of the Jackets offense.  First five possessions in the first half produced 68 net yards on 17 plays.  Four turnovers in the first half was too big to overcome.

The Jacket offense had spurts of good effort.  But 141 yards of the Jackets offense out of 221 total yards came in the last five minutes of the game.  Junior quarterback Ben Walling had the surprise play of the night with a 75 yard run down to the 10 yard line where Llano was able to then get its only score.  Walling had 4 runs and 98 yards, and Mason Greenwood had 82 yards on 19 tries.

LLano’s defense has played better.  Maybe much better.  It is hard to judge when the Jacket offense stays on the field so little.  32 points is not winning football, but 19 of those gave the football to the Bulldogs in great field position with only a few yards to pay dirt.  The defense forced the Bulldogs to kick four field goals after very strong defensive stands.  That plus forcing 6 punts and Llano’ freshman Arron Brown getting his first varsity interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter are all signs for hope.  Burnet played its starters to the middle of the fourth quarter.

Senior Jaden Napolez may have had his best game, in on 13 tackles.  Wonderful game from Ian Fletcher.  Senior John Heflin played well, and still has that extra step when given a chance to play offense.  Bent Greenwood, Kegan Greenhaw, Tyler Gann, Blake Dillard, John Keeney,  Kyle Cooper, senior Hunter Roemer continue to give this defense a face.  All are solid football players.  Juniors Josh Soliz, Nolan Keller, Gage Cox, and Ray Dixon are the future of this defense.  They are getting better every week.  Now they need very badly a signature victory.

Hustle is hard to coach. It comes from the heart.  It comes from want to.  And it is unselfish.  Want to watch that definition of a player this week, watch Luis Coronado and Shane Flint. Watch Christian Conway.  Watch the Jacket punting teams and see who gives it their all every time.  In the most unrecognized part of football, these guys when given a chance, take every minute and excel.  This year I can also say that about Ray Dixon and Tyler Gann.  Also on Jacket kickoff returns, good blocking came from Stephen Sanderson, Jordan Monroy, Thomas Westermann, Neil Blackmon and Bradley Dyess.  Every play, 100% effort.  This kind of effort is how we get that one special win that can define this season.

The offensive line must improve.  Yes, Mason Greenwood has 478 yards rushing in about 4 1/2 games, on a pace that could reach 1,000 yards again.  But Llano will be playing two buzzsaws soon in Navarro and Wimberley.  Mason makes a lot of yards alone.  He must have more help from Dakoda Trull, Roberto Alcala, Cameron Hall, Jason Gann  and Hayden Cowert. Mason must have those holes up the middle to keep linebackers honest.  You all can do it.

Do not like to say this, but it is true.  Llano plays a much weaker team this week in Austin Eastside at  Nelson Field in Austin.  This is not a week to take off.  This is your last chance to really try to get better.  You make goals.  Such as,…You have no turnovers.  You have no penalties.  You get this offense off dead center and make it work.  The defense plays for a shutout.  It works toward as few yards as possible to give up.  Make this game one in which you prepare yourselves for District play.  Please do not take Eastside as an easy week.  Make it your hardest week. Make this game count.

Player of the week:  Luis Coronado

 

 

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