In 1998, the Llano Yellow Jackets opened the season with a 33-0 lose to Fredericksburg. But recovered to beat Brady two weeks later 6-3, which is a super story in itself( I’ll try to rewrite the story soon). District play began with a 26-21 lose to Wimberley. Llano recovered again, with a 50-0 beating of Liberty Hill, and a 29-19 win over Burnet. The Jackets finished 5-5, and made just barely the playoffs.
Here is where it gets good. Senior quarterback Zack Vassar was all of 160 pounds. Seniors Boyce Pate, Michael Hays, Kevin Gatliff, Orin Simpson, Danny Rhea, Chris Rusche, Ryan Willmann, Nick Buerger, Chandler Schuessler, Cummings Smith, …all good high school senior players. None super great.
Four sophomores made the team. Strong junior class. Coach Karl McCormack and the Pearsall coach could not find anywhere to play the Bi-District game. Pearsall was 10-0, ranked in the top 10 according to the Harris Poll. So the Pearsall Coach tells Coach McCormack that he has never seen the folks in Pearsall so fired up about a football team. This was their year! And Pearsall would love to have a road trip to Llano and play! Coach McCormack fell out of his chair, recovered and said “yes, Llano would love to host the Bi-District game”.
It had rained off and on all day. But Pearsall busses started getting to Llano before noon. And they kept coming. Stangers set up in the Llano High School parking lots and bar-b-qued food! We had never seen such a sight. My, my, these folks are serious…they must be really good. And they were so nice. I meet a fellow walking in town, and he was so gracious. And he could not wait for his team to win their first play-off game of 1998. “On to State”.
Llano had a serious face on for the game. No one knew what to expect. But Llano jumped on Pearsall from the first minute of the game, and never looked back in a 41-26 victory. The game was not close. Llano never let up. It was Llano Yellow Jackets at their best, beating a good football team that no one had given the Jackets a chance. It was good players playing their best. That is all it takes to win a playoff game in Texas.
Llano did the same last Friday night beating Brownwood. Everyone playing hard every single down. I watched Eli Tiffin and Caleb Penny. I watched Mason Ladd, thinking not only might this be their last game, but also the last time I would get watch them play. I wanted so much for Llano to win. Beat Brownwood. Not back into the playoffs, but to earn it. I wanted these seniors to know how it felt to achieve a dream. The Jackets’ 23 seniors have all laid awake at nights, wondering how it would be to be in a playoff game. Now it was going to happen.
To win this week against Glen Rose, Llano has to play even better than they did against Brownwood. And Llano will. This is where teams with dreams make them come true. Layton and Issac and Chance and Carter are not finished. There are games to be won, and games still to be played. I do think the Jackets have gotten better each week. You must if you want to win game number 6. Gilberto, and Mansell, Villegas, Webb, Steffen, Lynch, Sawyer, Blackmon, Long, Burch, Kralen, Jones, Stribling, Shoemate, Jordan, all must contribute in some way. Must all be positive, and serious. You want to make this moment count. There will never be another like it.
Coach Slaughter told you last week that beating Brownwood would be a memory you would never forget. A memory that will match few others in your lifetime. He spoke the truth. But you can add to that fantastic memory by soundly going to Belton Thursday night and beating a good Glen Rose team. Few gave you much hope in August. You have beat those odds. Now, pile it on. Never look back. These memories are for youselves. Live each moment, and leave not one ounce of energy in your body. Play smart, and the game will be yours. Llano by 15.