The come from behind win Friday night against the Comanche Indians was more than one win. It may have set a tone for the next 9 games. The Yellow Jackets refused to take a knee, and they could have going into the fourth quarter. There are genes working here, and Llano players have that gene that takes losing hard. It is not
that hard to believe that Llano came from behind. In fact, going back to last season’s final regular season game with Salado, many of these same Jackets never quit and never stopped playing in that 51-49 victory.
The play of so many seniors won this game. While there are so few of them (10), everyone stepped up their game. From Justin Oestreich, to Clay Tarter, to Vance Bauer, to Wes Haverlah. When the kick-off sounded, Llano was ready. Conner Barrett played well, as did Zack Baker. Senior lineman Jordan Johnson started this season like he left last season, playing at full speed. Great game. I was really glad to see this kind of senior effort. Speaking out loud here, I think this group of seniors knows that this season will be a true test of their grit and their wills. It may take coming from behind many more times this season for Llano to get much respect. But to get that first one under ones belt is a great achievement.
I’m looking, but number one question after the game was when was the last time a Yellow Jacket ran back a kick-off? Well, the last one now is senior Clay Tarter’s 75 yarder, and while he never had the appearance of his run being of little doubt, I nearly looked away several times only to see Clay still pounding to the end zone. The score brought Llano back within 2 in the third quarter.
The Jackets have plenty of work ahead of them this week. Turnovers? We can’t kick anyone off the team for this, but three of the most dependables lost the ball. Need to cut that number in half!!! The defense gave up way to many yards, and Comanche’s quarterback was a super good test for Llano. In fact, I guess you give credit where credit is due. Payton Middleton was very good, and his 8 completions for more than 10 yards got the attention of the Jacket secondary. But pass rush and linebackers are just as important in stopping a sound passing game. The defense should be staying late this week. It does not get easier from the game with Bangs this week all the way to Salado in October. From Johnson to juniors Cooper Hill, Allan Lucas, and senior Ryan Williams, picking their games up is a must. And the game in Bangs Friday is where you start.
The kicking game can come around. Every year it seems, that part of Llano gets going slow. But look for continued and good effort from Zach Morgan punting, and Tatsch getting more comfortable kicking extra points.
Junior quarterback Rhett Brooks has that gene. He willed the team to win. And few times do you see that intensity in a player. When the Jackets went ahead 29-25, Rhett carried the ball 7 straight times before he scored. And with 1:56 left to play, when the Indians took the lead, it was Rhett that carried three times, and threw a 40 yard completion to junior Matthew Center before he scored the winning points. Center had four catches and 87 yards receiving from Brooks’ throws.
Sophomore Issac Hutto had a very good game and two catches in his varsity debut. Will Siegenthaler ran the ball well, as did junior Storey Tatsch. Bauer showed he has speed and actually made the corner a time or two. His secondary play was excellent. And watch next week for sophomore Mason Ladd in the secondary. He is small, but may be another good surprise.
But the surprise of the night was not really Clay or Rhett. It was an offensive line that few expected much from. Starting with center Taylor Stewart, a junior, and then sophomore Gilbert Arrendondo, Jordan Johnson, Wes Haverlah, Oestreich, Jacob Beasley, Cole Barrett, Williams, and Nick Bornholdt. These no name guys really played well. Rhett knows better than anyone. He was not sacked, a real rare thing for the first game, and remember, this was Brooks’ first start at quarterback. So, despite the inexperience, this was one good start.
But to summarize, the defense was not good. Giving up 32 points can’t help but make everyone work harder. The offense should only get better. One concern is quarterback. And unless your name is Brad Kassell, you really do not want your quarterback carrying the football 30 times!!! Rhett is going be be Rhett. When opportunity arises, he will run. But he will be a better runner when he runs 15 times a game. Llano will be better team when Vance, Will, Storey, and Clay carry the football, effectively 20 times.
Bangs beat Llano last year by two touchdowns in Llano. Two years ago, the rain and lightening stopped the game after 2 plays. Bangs finished last season at a healthy 8-4. This year, with one minute to play, Llano leading by 20, we all hope rain and lightening again stops the game. Llano by 20, and takes a 5-1 all-time lead in the series.