The two week rest has got be have helped. Many of the injured will play against Taylor. Word has it that junior Justin Wyatt will play for the first time this season. The sure -handed receiver has been missed. Also, Taylor Stewart may play. The junior center went down against Brownwood, and it just looked bad. We have got to have our lineman step up and play hard. And we are hoping sophomore Caleb Penny will be back at full speed.
Taylor is Llano’s worse foe. We have little in common with the Ducks, we see them rarely. They can beat you with speed on any given play, and it is darn near 90 miles from Llano. Our overall record against the Ducks is 4-3, our favor, and Llano has won the last two contests. Last season we beat the Ducks here in Llano for the start of our quest to make the playoffs. The 30-26 victory included the Jackets running up 465 yards of offense. It helped the Llano mind set, and the Jackets were able to turn that positive win into another win the following week against Lampasas. It will take three wins in district play again to make the playoffs, and it all begins Friday night in Taylor.
When District play begins, it becomes a very serious time for seniors. Everyone knows these are the real games. The games that count. And the games that take more than just good play. I feel it is most important for the seniors to step up their game, but they will need to lead by example. The Jackets’ 10 seniors have already demontrated the ability to play well. Times passed, seniors are the leading passers, or best running backs. But the 2011 seniors are seen more on defense, and that is where the Jackets have fallen back the most this season. I do not keep records on tackles on defense, and maybe the coaches do, but seniors Vance Bauer, Clay Tarter and Jordan Johnson have got to be at the top of the charts. All three have played hard and been tough. And all three have strong leadership qualities. These guys will need every ounce of those talents Friday night.
While linebacker Cole Barrett is 180 pounds, he too is a top play maker. Along with fellow senior linebacker Ryan Williams, these two players will see more of the Ducks than anyone. Taylor runs a version of the slot-t. Or, at least they call it that. So get ready for a team that will run straight at the linebackers. And with their speed, their hope is to get by Ryan and Cole and only hope they do not see Clay, Vance, and Zack Baker, or brother Conner Barrett coming up from the secondary. Do not expect the Ducks to pass much. After the success of Llano from 2005 to 2008 running the slot-t (Over 14,000 yards rushing in four yrs.), not only have we seen Taylor go to the formation, but now Lampasas runs the nearly “run only” formation. Liberty Hill has run it now for nearly a decade. And the Jackets now, do not.
On of the toughest Jackets is senior Justin Oestreich, the 215 pound defensive tackle. Down in the trenches, and gives little relief to anyone trying to block him. Justin’s main job is to try and keep blockers off of the linebackers. His job will be double hard this week. Justin must have a strong game.
Senior Wes Haverlah may be the Jackets most durable and consistant offensive lineman. The 190 pounder will be leading the way as the Jackets search for a consistant offense. Not just a run blocker, but now pass protection is vital. 275 pound Nick Bornholdt plays on both sides of the ball, and he too must have his best game. Llano must control the football, because if we do not, the slot-t will. Senior Cole Barrett sometimes does not come off the field. Brother of Conner, these two guys have a lot to think about on week nites. Cole plays a good linebackers position, and starts at guard on offense. Conner in the secondary. Their rest this week will have to come on Saturday. They will be very busy Friday night. And senior Garrett Milby could be forced into duty should any of the above slow down. It will take every senior to beat Taylor Friday night.
Taylor will be looking for its first win of the season. Do not think for a moment that they have not noticed the Jackets’ struggles this season. They will be thinking that this is their chance to take down a good team that they have had little success with of late. The Jackets need to get a lead, and never give the Ducks that hope of getting their first win. This win needs to be senior driven. Jacket seniors will lead by example, and juniors and sophomore will follow. Just show them the effort.
Llano by 14