Jackets Escape Lago Vista…Again

The show down game of the year for the Llano Yellowjackets, again was against District 13-3A rival LagoVista. Again it was figured to be close. And again, it was.d Llano came away with a 13-10 victory at Jacket Stadium Friday night, but not before Llano lost the lead with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter. The Lago Vista quarterback went straight up the middle of the field on a 51 yard run that put the Vikings up 10-7. Why this was very shocking to Jacket fans is because the Llano defense had previously forced the Vikings to punt on 7 consecutive set of downs.

The Vikings scored on their first possession, driving for 9 plays down to the 9 yard line where a successful 26 yard field goal gave Lago Vista the lead at 3-0. The 3 points were the first points scored in the first quarter against the Jacket defense this season.

So how did the Jackets pull this one out? Same as always. Playing till the end of the game. To make it harder, Llano took the kick-off and went 3 and out before you could say “Uncle”. But Llano’s Coaches had three time outs in their pocket. Lago Vista being confident they could run out the clock, ran the ball on all three plays. And the defense stopped all three, and called time out after each play.

So, on fourth and 7, Lago punted. Well, sorta punted. The ball went straight up and fell to earth on the scrimmage line for a net punt of 0. Jacket football on the 46 yard line.

Jacket senior quarterback Maddox Green hit junior wide receiver Sam Sueltenfuss on an out pattern for 16 yards and a first down. Then Maddox took one for the team, sprinting to the outside for a 14 yard gain, and a Viking defender thought it best to make sure Maddox was out of bounds. Bam bam…and 15 yard penalty on the Vikings. Llano was set up on the 13 yardline. First down Maddox throws to junior Ross Prokop for another first down and 10 yards. Llano on the 3 yard line. Carson Kuykendall took the football and scored on first down. Llano took the lead 13-10 with 1:03 left in the game.

Game still not over. Lago had the football on the 38 yard line. 13 yard pass completion. First down. 17 yard run. First down. Another 13 yard run. First down, but a holding penalty and time running out Lago needed to throw the football. And in steps junior Isaiah Bush in front of a pass and Jackets win with :13 seconds left in the game.

Llano is now 5-2 for the season, and 2-0 in district play. Lago Vista is now 4-3 for the season and 1-1 in district play.

There are no good losses, and few losses that moral victories really matter. But I do believe the Jackets never blinked in the Lago Vista game is because they played so hard and to the last play two weeks ago against a good Ballinger team and lost 35-34. On the last play. The Jackets mettle is getting stronger.

Coaches don’t call the right plays. Fans don’t show up with spirit and enthusiam. It’s the weather. Or the defense let us down. Or the offense just was never in sync. It does take everyone. Both offenses Friday night were averaging over 30 points a game. Could the Jacket defense really step it up to meet this challenge?

The Jacket defense stepped it up the best I have seen in a long time. When Llano held Lago Vista to zero yards in the third quarter…has this ever happened? Three runs, three passes. Nothing. On top of that the Vikings punter punted twice for 42 and 60 yards, putting the Jackets on the 6 and the 20 yard lines. Before that, he punted twice and put Llano deep in our own territory on the one and five yard lines. Which made it tough for the offense to get clever. Still Llano drove out to the 41 yard line and used 10 plays in the third quarter on the drive.

Both teams showed up to win. Said this last season. Would not want to play them again, but we might…we just might.

Jackets played so hard. Can’t say enough about linebackers Hayden Manahan, Ricky de la Torre and Fitz Kennedy. Lineman Zach Watson, Jaxon Rhea played both ways, as did senior Matthew Whitley. All studs. Daniel Sandoval, Dylan Kennedy, Tanner Howell and River Smith are playing fantastic. Secondary is not a weakness. Bauman, Dillard, Sam, Brock Fly, Briggs Green, and Isaiah are menacing to any quarterback……I’ve missed some great players, but will catch up next week, after we beat Blanco If we remember, Blanco played Llano very close last year, and this year we travel to Blanco. It may feel like after Lago Vista, we should let up. Nope, cannot happen. These seniors showed they want to win District, and two in a row may be for the first time ever! Still need to look up more information. In 1970, Llano went 9-0-1 and were Co-Champions, but did not go to the play offs. Then in 1971 went 5-4 and won District and went to the play offs. This is special. Beating Blanco will not be easy. Blanco is trying to save their season. Just like at Ballinger, some teams play better at home. Blanco will play Llano the best game they play all year. It will be that important to them.

It must be that important to the Jackets. Senior leadership guys, time for everyone to step it up. Beating a good Blanco team is a must, and the Jackets need to continue to improve. Let’s roll to 6-2.

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Jackets Shutdown Comfort

The Llano Yellowjackets beat Comfort on their home field Friday night 34-0 in the opening weekend of District 13-3A. The Jackets are now 4-2 on the 2021 season, and 1-0 in District play.

The Jackets scored on the third play of the game, and the 7th play on offense to take a strong 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. The defense held the Bobcats to 20 yards of offense on 10 plays in the first quarter.

Maddox Green on the third snap of the game ran straight up the middle for 55 yards and the first score. The senior quarterback for Llano would later complete three touchdown passes, all to junior wide receiver Sam Sueltenfuss. Sam finished with 72 yards receiving, and now has 6 receiving touchdowns for the season. Junior running back Carson Kuykendall has 11 Tds for the season. Junior receiver Coy Kelso has 4 TD catches on only 7 catches, averaging over 20 yards per catch. Junior Ross Prokop is tied with Sam with 20 receptions for the year. Junior Miguel Hernandez has 12 catches out of his running back position along with his 448 yards rushing, and 2 touchdowns. Carson has rushed for 496 yards and has caught 5 Green passes.

The offensive line has gotten better each game. Seniors Zach Watson and Matthew Whitley are monsters at times. And can be dominating. Both are having great senior years. Juniors Daniel Sandoval, Ross Edwards, Hudson Godfrey and center Jaxon Lange are peaking at the perfect time. Sophomores Dylan Kennedy and Tanner Howell are young stars. Jesus Chacon and Kaden Raborn are very valuable back-ups.

The Jackets have about 15 players that can play, and do play defense. 11 sacks in 6 games. Lead by linebackers Hayden Manahan and Ricky de la Torre. Lineman Cole Franklin and Jaxon Rhea each have two. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy, juniors Briggs Green and Brock Fly each have one. Isaiah Bush is really coming on strong….and so too Tanner Howell, and Briggs, both sophomores. Zach playing both ways has my heart. Never slows down. Keep writing down #s 12 and 19.. Jenis Bastyens and Aiden Guido…having very strong senior years. And love the play of Caden Bauman and Aiden Hendrickson, both juniors. Caden along with fellow junior Jackson Dillard each have 2 interceptions from their safety positions…making that secondary strong. Brock Fly has been playing alot on both sides of the ball. One solid football player and a sure tackler. Has run the football for 127 yards on 13 carries and a puffy 9.8 yards per carry. And always like seeing #33, Ulisses Martinez…what energy running the ball and a 6 yard average per carry. And I have a place on my notepad when a player jumps out to me really doing extra….Isaiah…Kyle Gilliland….Parker Parish another sophomore…Ulisses….and every week…River Smith…great effort, never gives up on a play…and Cole…always around the football…extra effort by all.

Now we get serious. Lago Vista. “Rivalries”may be an over used adjective, but in only 6 games of play to date, the Lago Vista game has become that. When playing at Lago Vista in 2019…the Jackets lost to a team they should not have….the Vikings just rose up and beat us. Then last season we are in the District together. Everyone knows it will be between us and them. And it is a full 48 minutes of rough physical football. Lo and behold, we meet again in the State Quarterfinals…everything on the line….A gut tearing game that in which the Jackets prevail, but leaves a bad taste in everyones mouth…YUK

Rivalry…yes, I think that is what it is…add to the drama is the defensive coordinator of the Vikings is no other than Brad Kassell, formerly Jacket Quarterback, Safety, All Everything…, still holds the record for most tackles at North Texas State,,,and those years in the Pros….we watched every Sunday….Now…he is on the Vikings sidelines….Rivalry….I think this is what it means.

I love this game…can’t wait like all Jacket fans and family for Friday night. Old rivalries like Brady and Burnet gave you that same feeling in the gut. Lago also sits at 4-2 for the year. I suspect we have similar teams. Both good. I like it that the Vikings will be favored. And like it Llano will get to play the Vikings in Yellowjacket Stadium. This one too, will be special. This one for the District crown, or pretty close to it. Has been about 25 years since Llano won back to back District Championships. Our seniors will be playing for something special.

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Jackets Open District Play @ Comfort

The 3-2 Llano Yellowjackets play Friday night at Comfort to open the 3-A Div. I District 13 race playing at Comfort. The Jackets hold a 3-0 advantage lifetime against the Bobcats. Comfort is 1-5 going into District play, having played good teams in Mason, Marion and Hondo.

With the cancellation last Friday of the Lake Belton game, the Jackets take to the road for the second game in a row. Comfort is a very strong program with consistency of playing hard and surprising many teams. Comfort made the playoffs last season. And while pollsters may pick the Jackets to win, that is hardly the case many times, as the Jackets found out two weeks ago when traveling to Ballinger. Teams play harder on the home fields. Teams play harder and sometimes differently when District begins. District play is a new season. Injured players get well. Adjustments are made on both sides of the ball. To take Comfort lightly would be a big mistake.

The Jackets too should be more well. I say that as game time will tell the details. Starters that may return to play include Jaxon Rhea, Jackson Dillard, Briggs Green, Jordan Coronado and others. Depth is so important when the whistle blows Friday night. Having strong and well players ready to go into a game at any moment is crucial. Llano being well is a must. Unless miracles happen, Abel Prince is not expected to play this season. Having Miguel Hernandez and Carson Kuykendall to step right in at the running back position has been a life saver.

The Jackets have the same District as last season. Lago Vista at 3-2 will come to Llano the following week. Then Llano travels to Blanco, and the last regular season game has Lulling coming to Jacket Stadium. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. The only game that counts is beating Comfort. One game at a time.

This is a time of the year I point out the importance of the seniors. Leadership by players that have been there is crucial. Senior Maddox Green quarterback is the leader, followed right behind with two way starter Zack Watson. Offensive lineman Matthew Whitley has been so good and solid all year. Aiden Guido really stepped it up this year. A great effort all year. And Jenin Basteyns with Kaden Raborn are helping is role spots. Just wish there were more of them. This is their final season as Jackets. They can make every play count. And show younger Jackets this is the time of the year that we get serious. Getting serious by beating Comfort Friday night is the first step.

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Jackets, Bearcats in Slugfest

Some games you never forget. Even in details. Bi-District-Llano- Rockdale in 1976. Jackets lost in the final seconds on a field goal 10-9. Bi-District Llano- Bastrop in 1973. Llano won 7-0. Llano –Fredericksburg 1977. Llano won 35-34. Bi-District 1997- Llano- Cuero. Cuero won 13-7. And only last season, Llano-San Saba. Llano won 35-31.

In my mind, the Ballinger game will be on that short list. The Jackets played their hearts out, and still lost. Ballinger played their hearts out, and played in a game they will remember for the rest of their lives. Bearcats won 35-34 in over-time. After the San Saba game last season, the Armadillos went home with all the respect in the world from Llano fans and players. I suspect that not a Bearcat or Bearcat fan didn’t hold as much respect for the Jackets.

Opening the game, each teams defense showed up and forced punts. But on the Jackets second possession, Llano drove 10 plays and 57 yards down to the 5 yard line. Llano pulled off a fake punt on fourth down when junior Carson Kuykendall ran 21 yards and a first down. Senior quarterback Maddox Green hit junior Brock Fly for a five yard gain. Four plays later Maddox hit junior Sam Sueltenfuss for 21 yards and a first down. Junior Miguel Hernandez made 4 yards to set up a field goal attempt by Sam on a 22 yard try. And the field goal is good and Llano lead 3-0.

Ballinger had the football and drove to the 31 yard line. Fourth down. The Jacket defense held. Llano’s defense has not allowed a point in the first quarter this season. Great effort by senior Zach Watson, juniors Isaiah Bush, Caden Bauman, Fitz Kennedy, Coy Kelso and a 6 yard loss by linebacker Ricky DeLa Torre ended the quarter. Ballinger started with the ball on their 25 yard line. Two pass plays, and 9 running plays. Ballinger had a running back that was 6’2, and 215 pounds. To say he was a load is an understatement. A real work horse. The Jacket defense was tough, but not enough. The quarterback scored on the 10th play and Ballinger went up 7-3. Outstanding play by Tanner Howell and River Smith, both juniors.

The Jackets recovered a Ballinger fumble on the next series. First play Maddox to Sam for 41 yards down to the 6 yard line. A 10 yard penalty did not faze Llano. Maddox went back to Sam for the 16 yard TD catch. Llano lead 9-7 The Jackets ended the half when junior Hayden Manahan sacked the quarterback of Ballinger for an 11 yard loss.

Llano kicked off to Ballinger. The Bearcats were held, but a ruffing the passer put Ballinger back in business. Two long passes of 23 and 44 yards put the Bearcats on the scoreboard and went ahead 13-9. Sam blocked their extra point try.

Llano only had the ball four plays in the third quarter. But that was all they needed. 8 yards by Carson. Four by Miguel. And then a 37 yard completion to junior Coy Kelso for the TD and Llano lead 15-13.Maddox was 8 for 15 and 124 yards thru the first 3 quarters. Llano only had the ball on offense for 9 plays total in the second and third quarters.

The fourth quarter would be a bugger. The Jacket defense had been on the field 38 plays in the second and third quarters. And on the first play of the fourth quarter, Ballinger scored and went ahead 21-15. Llano came right back. Completions to junior Ross Prokop for 10 and 5 yards. Sam for 12 more. And Sam for the final 12 yards and the TD toss from Maddox. The extra point was blocked and we had a 21-21 game.

Junior Caden Bauman intercepted the first play of the Bearcats from his safety position. Llano was unable to move the football and Ballinger had the ball on the 29 yard line. A great play by junior Cole Franklin for no yards halted the drive for a moment. But pass completions of 18 yards and 35 allowed the Host to score. 28-21 Bearcats.

No give up in the Jackets. A 15 yard kick off return by Sam. Maddox hit Carson for 14 yards. and the final 45 yards was a picture perfect pass from Maddox to Coy for the TD. Sam kicked good and score 28-28. Llano defense held on the Bearcats final drive. Fitz Kennedy, Hayden, Ricky and Bush had game stopping plays. Actually, Caden Bauman’s second interception of the night ended the drive. Aiden Guido and Aiden Hendrickson had great games. And now into over-time.

Set up on the 25 yard line, Ballinger scored in 4 plays, despite two outstanding plays by Manahan. Kick was good, score 35-28.

Llano’s turn. 10 yard catch by Ross, and a face mask had the Jackets on the seven. Miguel for 4 yards and Carson in from the three. 35-34. Sam to kick…but this time, no good.

Every player. Every Coach. Both sides. Every fan. All were exhausted beyond description. I tried to find Zack Watson, who had been playing both ways. Great plays by Ulisses Martinez, Jaxon Lange, Ross Edwards, and Dylon Kennedy. Senior Matthew Whitley was outstanding. Junior Daniel Sandovall getting so much better weekly. Jordan Coronado coming off injury, hurt again. Jenin Bastyens making plays as a senior. Tremendous effort. Everyone.

Do not remember a game in which a player was so outstanding, as was the case with Hayden Manahan. 19 tackles, solo!.. I’ve never heard of such a feat. His leadership is making this defense one to be reckoned with, by everyone we play. And his cast of “take no survivors” defenders are special.

Except for the barrage of injuries, this could turn out to be a great game for the Jackets. Will be hard to see where Llano will face a team as physically tough as Ballinger. And Llano proved to themselves they could keep coming back, even to the end. Even when being behind 3 times, and coming back each time. This kind of game will make Llano better. Beating a weak Sonora team had little value. This game had value. You want to win every game. And Llano expects to win every game. And Llano starts District next. And the Jackets expect to win.

Will write again next Monday. We will talk about the District race that begins next week. Jackets…get healed and well. And thanks for the memory.

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48-18 Jackets Over San Saba @ Graveyard

 

The 2021 Llano Yellowjackets scored on all 8 of their offensive possessions and beat the San Saba Armadillos 48-8 at the “Graveyard’ Stadium Friday night to improve their over all record to 3-1 for the season. Likely being over 20 years since Llano has played San Saba, the Jackets improve their over all record against the long time rival to 33-32-1.

Llano hardly missed a positive beat Friday night. Senior quarterback Maddox Green was 12 for 17 passing and 128 yards. Junior Miguel Hernandez playing only the first half had about 50 yards rushing and caught a pass for 14 more. Junior Ross Prokop lead Jacket receivers with 4 catches and 118 yards from Maddox. And Maddox found Jackson Dillard, Sam Sueltenfuss, and Ulisses Martinez for key receptions. Plus big brother also threw to Brother Briggs Green for 21 yards and a Jacket first down. 6 Yellowjackets caught passes, and 5 Jackets carried the football, with Maddox and Brock Fly scoring from the ground. Carson Kuykendall carried most of the load, as Miguel was held out the second half due to an injury that Coaches did not want to aggravate. Carson ended the game with about 130 yards and five rushing Tds.

A complete team win. Love how the offensive line improves every week. Seniors Zach Watson and Matthew Whitley are showing the leadership. Both seasoned starters from last year. And Juniors Ross Edwards, Daniel Sandoval, and Jaxon Lange are better than sound.

Again, want to mention the play of special teams. Going down on kick offs sometimes is dangerous. Jenin Bastyens, Ricky De la Torre, Isaiah Bush, Fitz Kennedy, Aiden Guido, Ross Prokop, Brock Fly and Cole Franklin show no fear.  Great coverage.

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Part 2- San Saba

Sorry to have two parts, but got off track.

The defense is getting better, but have pretty good idea that Defensive Coordinator Matt Anastasio looks for better. Senior Watson and sophomore River Smith along with outstanding Jaxon Rhea are playing so strong in the middle of the line. Linebackers Ricky, Hayden and Fitz Kennedy are sure bets every down. And sure am warming up to this secondary. Briggs Green, and Caden Bauman are making hands. Jackson Dillard has three interceptions. Coy Kelso got one against San Saba. Players like Daniel Sandoval, Hudson Godfrey and Brock Fly are getting good playing time. And feel safe when Sam is at cornerback, as well as Bush anad Aiden.

New week, new team. Travel this week to Ballinger. Ballinger is a good football team. 11-2 last season, and the only team to beat State Champion Jim Ned in 2020. Ballinger in the late 1960s’ was in Llano’s district. 3-3 over all with the Bearcats. The Big Red is always tough on their home field. Another team that thinks they owe Llano one. Ballinger is picked to win their 3-A District, and returns their very good quarterback.

Llano can finish September undefeated. That would be nice. Long trip to Ballinger, so a joyful trip home, too would be nice. Good practices, and sound football, and Llano will be 4-1.

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Jackets Pound 5-A Austin Crockett 37-7

The Llano Yellowjackets beat 5-A Austin Crockett 37-7 Friday night at Homecoming for Llano. The win put the Jackets at 2-1 for the season, and was the 8th straight win for Llano at Jacket Stadium. The Jackets travel to long time rival San Saba this Friday night playing at San Saba.

The Jackets are playing better. And that is the key. Fewer mistakes each week, few penalties, better tackling, better blocking and more heads up play. Llano exchanged punts with Crockett the first two series. But with 8:01 in the first quarter senior quarterback Maddox Green hit junior Ross Prokop for an 11 yard TD catch. Jackson Dillard kicked good and Llano lead 7-0.

The old adage that defenses are ahead of offenses at the beginning of seasons. True to form in Llano. The defense held Crockett to 22 yards of offense in the first quarter, and a heads up play by Isaiah Bush with his first varsity interception saved Llano from the play before in which Llano fumbled a punt on the 20 yard line. Llano then drove 76 yards on 11 plays to take a 13-0 lead after the first quarter. Strong runs by Carson Kuykendall, Maddox and junior Miguel Hernandez kept the attack balanced. Catches from Maddox to Sam Sueltenfuss for 13 yards, four more by Jackson, and the final 3 yard TD to Sam for the score.

The Jacket defense is playing at mid season form. No one player playing harder than the others. The defensive line is outstanding, lead by junior Jaxon Rhea and senior Zach Watson. The linebackers clean up every play. Two year starters Ricky De La Torre and Hayden Manahan along with new starter Fitz Kennedy can’t be out worked.

And the secondary. Sam and Isaiah, along with Caden Bauman and Briggs Green are making statements and are sure tacklers. Junior Ryan Turner is making a hand. This group could be very good. Newcomer Bryce Mize makes plays. Sophomores Tanner Howell, Donavan Simmons, Cole Franklin and Dylan Kennedy are going to be good. Junior River Smith is making plays in the line. So many are stepping up. And there are others, but this is what a fan can now expect. A Jacket team that improves, with new names and faces being counted. Improvement each week is the key. Llano has seven very tough weeks ahead. Getting better is the only way to keep taking that next step up.

Love seeing the special team hustle from Aiden Guido, Coy Kelso, Cole Franklin, Brock Fly, Jenin Bastyens, Aiden Henderickson and Ryan. All work hard on teams that get little attention until something goes wrong. Also saw hard play from junior Daniel Sandoval…good player. And good play from Kaden Raborn in the defensive line. Very good back-up player.

Llano went ahead 20-0 in the second quarter when Miguel carried twice for 36 yards, and Carson sprinted in from 7 yards out.

Fitz Kennedy stopped an 8 play Crockett drive with his first varsity interception in the third quarter. Ricky got another sac. Simmons made a stop for no yards. And the offense ran the ball in the third quarter. Miguel behind the blocking of Jaxon Lange and Ross Edwards gained 64 yards in the quarter on 6 carries. Carson had 47 yards on 4 carries and another TD, with help from offensive lineman Sandoval, Zach, Simmons, Hudson Godfrey and sophomore Dylan Kennedy.

Another great catch by junior Coy Kelson in the corner of the end zone for a 4 yard TD catch from Maddox. Second week in a row for Coy with a great TD catch and gave Llano the final score of 37-7. On to San Saba.

One of the Jackets oldest rivalries is San Saba. For decades we were in the same district. The over-all record of 32-32-1 indicates many tough and revengeful games. In the late 1960s’, San Saba’s Coach, John Baskin took the Armadillos to the quarterfinals. Always a very competitive program. But then about 3 years later, San Saba had a record of 4-6. And the school board fired Baskin.

Baskin took the offensive coordinator job in Llano under head Coach Ken Gray in 1973. They had played together in college at Howard Payne. In 1973 Llano went to the quarterfinals with a 9-3-1 record. Two years later Ken Gray left to Coach the offensive line of the Denver Bronchos’, and Baskin was moved up to the head coach in Llano.

Baskin beat San Saba every year for about 6 years. Over one 3 year period of play, Llano scored over 160 points against the ‘Dillos. Baskin still is one of the best coaches Llano has ever had. And his record proves that out. When John moved to Llano, he brought his family. “Johnny B”, his son, was in the eighth grade at the time. Johnny B won 4 straight 800 meter District Championships, as well as winning the State Championship by 40 yards his junior year in Memorial Stadium. in Austin. Johnny was All-District 3 years, and All West Texas and All Central Texas. Johnny did not play basketball. He ran track at Angelo State University four years and was on the National Championship Team. And Friday night Johnny B was inducted into the LHS Hall of Fame. His Mother and Dad live now in San Antonio. Johnny B coached for 30 years, and has just retired last year. He came to the Llano San Saba game last year.

Oh me. That darn revenge thing. I have an idea that the Armidillos will be looking forward to Friday night. Llano travels to the “graveyard”. Yes, it really was a cemetery at one time. Some still think it still is!! San Saba has a good program, and a very good Coach. After what happened in the game last year, you can expect playing hard by the ‘Dillos will not be a problem. Llano will have to play tough and smart. And we will. See you in San Saba.

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Jackets Play Solid Against Sonora

The 35-12 victory Friday night was an excellent start in righting the ship for the 2021 Llano Yellowjackets. The win at Jacket Stadium was a big lift for an offense that struggled the first week of play, and enforced the confidence of a defense that has a chance to be very special. The Jackets would have a hard time duplicating the play of the first half of play. Llano lead 22-0 at halftime, and scored 13 more points in the second half, with most every Jacket getting playing time. Sonora was held to less than 30 yards of offense in the first half. The Jacket offense had nearly 300 yards of offense.

Took only the second play of the game for senior quarterback Maddox Green to find junior wide receiver Sam Sueltenfuss on a down and out pattern, in which Sam slipped the tackle and took it to the end zone. Pretty sure this was Sam’s first varsity TD reception, and Maddox’s first TD pass this season. Line play came into the formula, with junior Jaxon Lange, and seniors Matthew Whitley and Zach Watson protecting Maddox.

The defense controlled the game. Junior linebackers Hayden Manahan and Ricky De La torre were on the ball carriers all night long. Junior defensive end Jaxon Rhea and Zach Watson were beast in the defensive line. Junior River Smith helped Llano to drop the Broncos for 7 plays and loss yardage, as well as pressuring the quarterback and a Jacket interception by junior Jackson Dillard put Llano back in business on the 49 yard line. From there junior Carson Kuykendall and junior Miguel Hernandez ran the ball 8 straight plays that set up a Jackson Dillard 25 yard field goal. Llano lead 15-0 with 6:36 to play in the first half.

Llano continued to dominate. Miguel caught a 9 yard pass, as did Sam for another TD and an 18 yards from Maddox. Continued good line play made the offense click. Sophomore Tanner Howell saw action as did junior Daniel Sandoval and sophomore Dylan Kennedy. Junior Ross Edwards, a starter as a sophomore dominated all night. Junior Hudson Godfrey had a good solid night. Double duty by Zach Watson solidifies a good line….and getting better.

The Jacket offense found its footing. Maddox completed passes to five receivers for 238 yards and 4 Td passes. Junior Ross Prokop had two catches and 23 yards…Sam 2 catches, 74 yards and two TD catches, Carson three catches, a 29 yarder for a TD, Miguel 3 catches and 28 yards, and with his first varsity catch, junior Coy Kelso made a great grab for 33 yards and a TD. Again, solid line play gave Maddox the time he needed.

The run game worked too. Carson lead the Jackets with 94 yards rushing and now has 195 yards receiving in two games. Miguel had over 70 yards rushing. But it was Miguel who brought every fan to their feet when he took the kickoff on the 9 yard line and went 91 yards for the Jackets and a 28-12 third quarter lead. This run goes into the record book.

The Jacket defense took no prisoners. Solid play by so many. junior Isaiah Bush had a solid game. So did Caden Bauman from his safety position. Cole Franklin, another new defensive back had several real good plays. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy had several tackles and was very aggressive. Jordan Coronado is making a real hand at linebacker….I think…he lines up too fast for me to tell where he is!!! Sophomore Briggs Green is one to watch.. A play maker coming on. Junior Ulisses Martinez looked good at cornerback, and sophomore Donavan Simmons made a tackle for a loss. Brock Fly at linebacker was in on several stops. Kaden Raborn got into some plays and as a senior will provide valuable backup help. As will Jenin Bastyens at defensive back and receiver. Junior Remington Hipp and senior Aiden Guido saw action and gaining experience will pay off for both. And expect to see more from junior Ryan Turner and sophomore Charlie White.

Llano is 1-1 going into Homecoming. We have have never played Austin Crockett before The 14-5-A school….I expect Llano to have a good game against a much bigger school, but not one with a lot of success. Crockett will have players that are seasoned and have played much better competition thru the years. They likely see Llano as an opportunity to get a win. The Jackets cannot let their guard down. Getting better every week is so important, and the Jackets again face a district that down the road that will very very tough. The Jackets have so many sophomores and juniors. Stopping to rest will not work on this level. Beating Crockett is a step in getting better.

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Gatesville Slaps Down Jackets

4-A Gatesville took advantage of the Llano Yellowjackets 4 turnovers and inability to get into the end zone to take the 2021 season opener 27-7 played in Gatesville.

The Jacket defense stopped the Hornets on the first drive of the game when sophomore Jordan Cornando recovered a fumble. Senior quarterback Maddox Green quickly completed a pass for 9 yards and a first down to junior Ross Prokop to the 28 yard line. Another completion by Maddox to junior Sam Sueltenfuss for 6 yards. But Llano ran out of downs.

The defense stepped up again. A sack by junior Jaxon Rhea cost the Hornets 10 yards. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy, junior Hayden Manahan and junior Caden Bauman were all in on tackles. Linebacker and junior Ricky De la torre defended well on a long Hornet pass completion, and the defense forced a punt. Llano was looking good at this point.

The quarter ended with no score. The Jackets recovered a fumble on the first play of the second quarter. A 4 yard run by Carson Kuykendall. And on third down, Carson broke for the longest play of the night with a 40 yard run up the middle, down to the 19 yard line of the Hornets. The next series of plays took the wind out of the Jackets. Two runs for lost yardage, and a 30 yard field goal try by Jackson Dillard was a little wide right.

Gatesville came right back down the field, and with 3:09 left in the half, kicked their own 21 yard field goal good for a 3-0 lead. Gatesville scored again with only :45 seconds left in the half. The 10-0 score at halftime looked do-able.

Llano came out strong in the second half. A pass completion from Maddox to Carson for 7 yards. Carson had runs of 7, 6, 3, 18 and 8 yards to set Llano up on the 5 yard line. Miguel Hernandez ran two times for 4 yards, and Carson ran it it from the one. Score was 10-7.

The teams exchanged interceptions on the next two series. Sophomore Briggs Green with help from a good pass rush from Jaxon, Brock Fly, Zach Watson, Isaiah Bush and Fitz pulled in the pass on the Jacket sidelines. The next set of downs by Llano saw an interception that produced another score for the Hornets, making the score 17-7. The good; 6 receivers: Sam (5), Ross (4), Carson (1), Coy Kelso (2), Jackson (2), and Miguel (2). Good Pass Rush: Llano had four sacks: one each by Jaxon, Fitz, Hayden and Briggs. The offensive line played near good. Jaxon Lange, Matthew Whitley, Daniel Sandoval, Ross Edwards, Dylan Kennedy and Hudson Godfrey. The passing by Maddox being 15 of 28 showed good protection.

The not so good: Four turnovers. 8 penalties. The fourth quarter proved fatal. 3 of 10 passing, and an interception. Only 15 yards rushing. Everyone must improve on these numbers.

Sonora visits Llano this week. The Broncos made the play-offs last season in 3-A, Div.II…and return 8 starters on offense and 8 on defense. Revenge will be on the Bronchos agenda. Llano will be righting the ship. Less penalties, less missed tackles, no drop passes, and blocking must improve. Llano had plays that looked like the “break-thru”….but then fizzled. 25 Freshman, sophomores, and juniors and this team. The Gatesville game was a good tough game by a pretty good football team. Our 7 seniors have been here before. Now their leadership is needed. And lead they will with a home victory over Sonora Friday night.

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Gatesville Game Tough One Out the gate

The week is here for the first game of 2021. Could not come at a better time, and thank goodness. I think many of us have talked about and lied to each other about the 2020 team so much that now we need new material. On the field comes the 2021 Jackets.

I thought after the first game last season, that Gatesville was a good and young football team. Llano jumped in early and never let up. Gatesville was playing hard at the end of the 45-16 romp. I expect nothing less from the Hornets and former State Champions ( 2000). Last season Gatesville went 4-6, fighting back from an 0-10 record in 2019. Gatesville made the play-offs last season in a district that had Salado (11-2), and China Springs(10-3) in a tough 4-A District. Their high school enrollment of 851 is nearly 350 greater than LHS.

The Jackets return 6 offensive starters, and 4 return on defense. The nine seniors will be leaned on heavily. All contributed last year. More will be expected in 2021. Senior starters will be lead by quarterback Maddox Green. Maddox was 2nd team All-District at wide receiver last season. Able Prince too was second team All-District at running back. Able ran on the State qualifying 4 X 100 record breaking relay team. The school record had stood for 55 years.

Matthew Whitley anchored a very strong group on the offensive line. Matthew was All-District first team last season. Zach Watson at 255 pounds was great as a junior, and was Honorable Mention All-District. He and Whitley will carry much of the leadership role. Senior Kaden Raborn returns and also may see time on defense.

Bode Gann returns at running back. His quickness and speed will be needed badly. A tough runner. Seniors Jenin Basteyns, Aiden Guido and Gunner Ivy all can make strong contributions.

Seniors like the 9 above all have a roll. Coaches find their rolls. And sometimes the players figure out ways to make themselves valuable. Their senior season is the time to step up.

It looks like Llano will have about 24 freshman, sophomores and juniors on the team. The over-all makeup is the Jackets are a young team. May take more than a few plays for everyone to feel comfortable and then feel confident. Building that team confidence begins this Friday night in Gatesville.

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