September 28, 2011

The loss to the Fredericksburg Billies was a near perfect storm for our neighbors to the South.  While the Jackets have played well at times, the combination of several fazes of the game all came together for a very disappointing game last Friday night.  But nothing was more apparent than the injuries on the sidelines.  With 6 Yellow Jackets not suited up, and two more going down during the contest, Llano became outnumbered real fast.  The 1-4 start has happened in the past, and Llano has recovered.  Thank goodness for the open week, as the Jackets prepare of District 25-3 A play, and maybe get players well.  It will take all aspects of the game and the players to be ready for what looks like an open district contest, and no one team standing out as unbeatable, as Llano discovered in 2010.

Last season the Jackets opened district play with wins over Taylor and Lampasas.  Both games were in Jacket Stadium last season, and this year we travel to those two schools.  Lampasas has shown to be the strongest in pre-district play with a 4-1 record.  Taylor will be looking to Llano for its first win of the season.  Liberty Hill was picked by Texas Football magazine to win 25-3 A, and the third week Llano will host the Panthers.  We go to Burnet in the fourth week, and follow that with Salado coming to Llano in the final regular season game.  No one could ever forget one of the best games to watch in Jacket history as the Jackets beat Salado last year 51 to 49 and secured the third place spot for the play0ffs.  The 2010 game produced 1,245 yards of offense by both teams, and the 703 by the Jackets lands in the #2 highest yards in a single game in school history.

The mountain that Llano faces this year more than any other in my memory is the number of seniors.  Going back to 1967, I can’t find a Llano team that had at least 15 seniors, that did not have a winning season.  I’m sure I could have missed one, and bring it to my attention if you know of that season.  But the 2011 Yellow Jackets have only 10 seniors.  Not only is depth a real concern, but leadership also is spread thin.  The number of players that have been in tough situations in the past falls on fewer shoulders.  With 7 sophomores suited up last week, the experience factor does limit many things the coaching staff is able to accomplish.  And our competition has not had that problem.

While over the past 39 years of writing about the Jackets, few other topics have caught my attention more than enrollments.  And, like last season, Llano was lowest in high school enrollment in 25-3 A, with the exception of Salado.  Salado’s 467 students was bettered by the Jackets with 510 students.  Last season, Salado had 15 seniors, while Llano had 14.

This month of October, the UIL will redraw district alignments.  Many in Llano keep thinking  the Jackets could go down to Class 2A.  With numbers as they appear today, that will not happen.  36 schools in 3 AAA have lower enrollments than Llano.  And out of 184 schools in 3-A, 20% would have to go backwards before the Jackets dropped.  The playoffs are based on 32 districts, and that is how you get 6 games in order to make it to the state finals.

Being a small, or sometimes the smallest school in the district is not new to the Jackets.  We have been in and out of Fredericburgs’ district since the 1930s.  Llano has had Round Rock, Georgetown, Lake Travis, and Marble Falls in the district.  Now all are 4-AAAA and 5-AAAAA schools.  The Jackets have competed thru it all.  One past successful Jacket coach would remind his troops that the other team could only play 11 players at a time, dispite that they would bring 50 to a game.  The Jacket reputation over the past 50 years  as been that Llano kids were tougher, and hit harder than anyone else.  Llano coaches have always been in awe of the hard working kids of the Jacketland.  That part has not taken a beating.  That is why Llano will still have a say in the 25-3 A starting next week.

And, to get back to those seniors.  This weekend we will review those seniors and their inspired play over the past 5 weeks.  While Llano may be few in numbers, their hearts are painted Orange and Black.  District begins this week.  The Llano seniors will be leading the way.  Get well, rest up, and let’s get ready for Taylor.

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5 Responses to September 28, 2011

  1. Robert Boucher says:

    I have to say that finally I have to agree with you! The injuries that have plagued us have been really hard for Llano and the Coaches! And I totally agree that this limits so much that the Coaches can do! I hope that you have come to an understanding by reading this present post, that the coaches are NOT blaming the players and vice versus! You can only do what you can with what you got out on the field! I do love being reminded of the win last year in Salado! The Jackets and their leaders are tough!

    NOW, talking numbers, I agree!!!!!!!! We should have already been 2A! Why is it all over the state there are some of the similar situations! And I know this for a fact! Why is it in this area you have Burnett and Liberty Hill staying 3A! What a joke! I think some schools are not adding the way Llano does! I know Mr. Hill is accurate as he can be! But you know it is very apparent by the above mentioned schools, you go to any contest and they look like a big 4A and or a small 5A!

    I hope that someone can get to the real count of some of these schools! Glad you brought this issue to attention! Go Jackets!

  2. I guess we need to give everybody a pass. Meaning the Coaches Yeager has not placed a high priorty on winning so for this year hopefully district will be a different story. We are getting a few kids back and we are are losing a few. Coach em and make a effort. That deal against Fred. was awfull. GO JACKETS

  3. You know I’ve had two sons and a nephew play for Yeager and for the most part It’s been very good. All you hav’t to do is go to practice and you can see that things are alot different than they used to be. The one thing you can say about Llano in the past is in the fourth quarter we would beat you down. For the last two or three years this has been far from the case. I’m not a hater I barely even know Mr. Virdel I do think he writes a very good column I know the kids like to read it. Hopefully the Jackets will have a better year next year.

    • Mike Virdell says:

      Mr. White…I do not see if you will receive this response, but, if you do, thanks for your words…I’ve written Play To Win for 39 yrs…for one reason, and that was to give recognition to the players….when I moved back to Llano in 1973 there was hardly a word written even about the games, much less seeing a players name in print….After over 500 columns…I have had huindreds of little notes and calls about the positive things and twist I have put on a negative thing….I do know that hundreds of scrapbooks find this little column between those pages….and I did not knwo there was a bigger supporter of Yeager than I….but, I am not the coaches cheerleader…I am the players cheerleader….And for the first time in 39 yrs…a Coach has turned anything I said into a negative…I feel very bad about Coach Yeager…I do not know what happened, but most veteran observers think there is much more wrong than a little play calling….I printed out all of my columns the other day, and read them to see where a Coach might think I was picking on him….I’m still looking, and so are some other folks…nothing makes sense…this is all a sad ending…mikel Mikel Virdell, Broker ReMax Llano o.325.247.5776 Fax: 325-247-5930

  4. Thank you like I said I enjoy reading your column and I know for a fact the players enjoy it very much. I read every column every week and I don’t believe you ever pick on the coaches or the players. Even though maybe sometime we should. Once again the column is very good. Keep up the good work.

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