The LlanoYellowjackets are 12-0, best in school history. Now on to the Regional Finals. Only 8 schools remain in Class 3-AAA, Division 1. Llano has never played four games deep in the State Playoffs. The victory at Gupton Stadium in Leander over 11-1 Jourdanton was not easily won. The Indians were the District Champions in District 14, and were averaging nearly 50 points a game. A polished passing team, the Indians threw the ball 41 times. But four interceptions by the Jacket defense took away any hope of coming back on the Jackets late in the game. The 31-14 final score has Llano at 3-0 in the State Playoffs.
When you talk about these Yellowjackets, you talk about real live stars. Seniors Case Kuykendall, Jared Beasley, Austin Hulon, and the incomparable wide receiver Quincy Prince. Seniors like Jake Self, and H-back Trevor Cowan along with near perfect kicker Diego Perez, you have the headliners. Junior Maddox Green comes in so often to make great plays with his catches. Injured Bode Gann hopes to return, and Miguel Hernandez is a great back up. All so talented… all play 100% no matter it being in the first quarter, or the last play. That is how you win at this level. Throw in maybe one of the best offensive lines of the past decade: Seniors Dalton Enberg, Colin Mayes, & Luke Hicks anchor this unhearlded group. Juniors Matthew Whitley, Zach Watson, Jesus Chacon, and sophomore Ross Edwards quietly doing their job. Only two penalties by these “mud-hogs” in the last two games, against very talented teams. The offense has averaged 43.8 points a game this year.
The days of high powered offenses is here. Jackets defenders average allowing a bit over 15 points a game is not good…it is very good by the defense. But the most important statistic to me is the second half of games. This defense has allowed only 6 points a game after half-time. Not even asking…this team has been in so much better condition that everyone we have played in the second half. One Jacket parent pointed out, if you want to get to Llano, you had better do it in the first half. It has been lights out in the third and fourth quarter. The Jackets four interceptions Friday night was nothing but heads up play. Paying attention, and also learning the tendencies from the first half. I only suspect adjustments are being made at halftime!
Abel Prince (2), Aiden Cuthbertson and Luke Keller pulled down the interceptions. Austin playing lights out from his safety position. The linebacking crew…wow…sophomores Ricky de la Torre and Hayden Manahan lead the team in totals. Senior Mason Baker in the middle is the boss on the field. Even my wife Kay saw several times as Mason was shouting out “instructions.” She asked “what was he saying? You don’t need to know!” The play of Daniel Sandaval, Anthoney Ysais , Zane Toney-Fielding and Dillon Milum round out a very tough group of players. Sam Sueltenfuss, Carson Kuykendall and Cole Franklin have moved up to help. But no one wonders about the Jacket defensive line. Sophomore Jaxon Rhea makes plays you would expect from a seasoned veteran. I’ve mentioned before the Swiss Pocket knife that Lance Pierce has become. Can’t label him anything but terrific. But the other two are getting to be household names. Senior Guillermo Davilla, All-District the past two years holds down the middle…taking on the biggest and strongest…on every play…so tough. And there has not been anyone like senior Cade Ligon…not even 200 pounds…but runs with wheels like a race horse…from his defensive line position…7 sacks on the great Jourdanton quarterback Friday night. 7!! Have never heard of such a thing. And maybe one reason Cade has that extra gear is number one he is in such great condition, and he has 10 others players all doing their job every play so to free the defensive end to wreak havoc….this defense can be a dangerous bunch.
Yeellowjacket Coaches: All doing such sound jobs. Adjustments….encouraging…teaching on the sidelines…have seen all this…oh yea, and someone has got this team in shape to play in the fourth quarter…have never doubted a play call this season…pretty unusual for me…thanks to all.
Saying great things about these players will not make a heal of beans to Lago Vista. Better to put the accolades and trophies away. Lago Vista will play their best game, maybe in history to beat the Jackets this Friday night. Call it revenge from the 44-27 lost in District play with Llano. So, do not think that defensive coordinator Bradly Kassell at Lago Vista won’t pull out all stops. Bradley was the Jacket quarterback in 1997 when Llano last won 11 games. He wants to stop this Yellowjacket train.
Lago Vista runs the football, with a great quarterback in Adrian Hernandez. In the first game Lago ran the football 43 times and passed 20 times. They never gave up, and had 8 first downs in the fourth quarter. Lago lead at the end of the first quarter 14-10. Only when senior Aiden Cuthbertson ended the threat with a fourth quarter interception were Llano fans able to sit down.
I actually thought several weeks ago we might be playing the Vikings again. And here we are. I knew they were one of the best teams Llano had played all year. And the same measuring cup will be used this week. Who would I rather play? Lago Vista or Llano? Uncharted territory? Don’t think so. These Jacket seniors have been winning since the 7th grade. This is what the 20 seniors have all been dreaming about. Jackets roll to # 13.