I feel like this is a dawning of a new age. New Coaches, new players, and new attitude. Few teams in recent memory face such a challege as the 2012 Yellowjackets. A schedule in which Llano will not be favored to win in a single game. A team with wounds that remember the disasterous 1-9 , 2011 season. A season that in 39 years do I remember Llano not even being competitive. The past was like no other, and from this viewpoint, a 2012 season that maybe, will be a time to remember.
One can go back to the 1987 season in which Llano went 0-10. But the memory that stands out most is Llano still, in that heartbreaking season, played defense. The West Texas defensive player of the year was the great Jacket safety, Chad Wootan. Had more tackles than anyone else in West Texas ! Sure, Chad had more chances than anyone in memory, but he was great, and the Jackets never gave up. Played to the end of every game. To that end, Llano was still a team that no one looked forward to playing. The following season, the Jackets were 5-5. And following season, Llano was back in the playoffs.
There are many reasons to think Llano could surpries a few teams. Number one being the Jackets have enough seniors to win. About 17 are on the varsity roster, and it takes seniors to win. These seniors won, and beat the teams we play this season. Llano either won, or tied for the district championship when these guys were in the 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. Other teams have gotten better, and certainly, their schools have grown more than Llano. But our core group is still together. We have good athletes at keys spots. Llano will be competitive.
What I noticed above all else Saturday in Early, was the defense was being aggressive. Players were going to the football, and not just one or two. This Coaching staff has everyone going to the football. Jacket players over the past 9 years just rested when the football went to the other side of the field. 9 years of Llano making defense unimportant. Not Saturday. Players were chasing, and it paid off. Turning back and cutbacks by Early and Blanco running backs found Jacket defensive players ready and willing to make contact. This is Coaching. That is why Llano will be competive again, even against the Wimberlys’, Burnets, Liberty Hills’ and Brownwoods. It is a new day.
It will take me at least another scrimmage and one full game to know the players, their positions, and their numbers. I had a tough time of it Saturday. But, could not miss the play of senior Rhett Brooks, at second team quarterback, but likely come August 31 against Wimberly, he will be wearing many hats, and playing where ever he helps Llano win. As will senior Matt Center, and Storey Tatsch. Junior Issac Hutto at wide receiver and defensive end will play a big roll in the Jacket season. Loved the play of senior Nick Bornholdt. At 280 pounds, Nick has no idea of the confussion he can cause. I do not know our defense yet, but if Nick crushes down the middle of an offensive line several times a quarter, adjustments will have to be made. And Llano will not be making the changes. Senior Allan Lucas and junior Caleb Penny were aggressive at linebacker. Two year starter Cooper Hill will be one of the leaders on defense, and expect much from 220 pound Jacob Beasley, a senior. I also want to see Zach Morgan step up. His punting last year put him in the record books. I’d love to see him punt half as much, and add 3 yards to last years average.
Folks, I know, it looks bleak if you think this is Llano of the past decade. But, write this down. You will be very proud when this dust settles. See you at 7:30…or somewhat ..Thursday nite for the final scrimmage with Florence. Then…write this on your calandar…11:30 Friday. August 31..I think at Inman’s….day meeting with Coach Slaughter before the Wimberly game…see you soon….thought for Jacket fans: It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up…Vince Lombardi
Beginning 40 years of covering the Fighting Llano Yellowjackets.