2016 will be a season of optimism and higher expectations. I say higher, because after four seasons of not having winning records, Llano still has ben able to prevail and make the state play-offs two of those seasons. And the 2015 season saw Llano win its first play-off game in 8 years.
No one knows better than Llano’s coaching staff on the strong push among Jacket loyalist that the Team needs to win more than the minimum. Schedule does have everything to do with it and no one can deny having very strong schools in ones district can make for long seasons. This is no fault of the effort of Llano football players. And only a few exceptions have I seen, now going some 44 years of following this team have I seen effort and lack of it ever made a difference in a football game outcome. I have preached often over the past four decades the proud and many times the supreme work ethic of being a Llano Yellowjacket. If it is in the water, so be it. But something becomes instilled in Llano football players that tells them to never give up. To never submit to press calls for the bigger teams that have larger enrollments and Llano should just roll over for them. I truly still think that few schools look forward to playing Llano. Playing a team that will still hit you, and still be playing hard in the fourth quarter are trade marks of being a Llano Yellowjacket. And senior leadership must lead the charge.
I am excited to have several players back this season, and today we will mention seniors. Let’s start with John Heflin. He was a starter as a sophomore at safety and cornerback. It seems like John has been a starter since he was in the 7th grade, but he is a soild player with a great senior year coming upon him. Linebacker Brent Greenwood was a leading tackler last season, and could be an all star season. But his leadership and demanding presence on the field is what becomes noticeable. Brent needs his defense to step up this season and make crucial plays at crucial times. Moving inside at linebacker will give Brent a better opportunity to be more vocal and help give strong voice on the field. Defensive end Blake Dillard was right behind Brent in tackles, and his 7 QB sacks last year should help make this defense one that will help the offense. These three players must make the defense great. And a great defense will put the Jackets into the playoffs again.
Llano will scrimmage Wall this Friday in Wall. Wall mauled Llano last year. Wall was a healthy 12-1 last season in Class 3A, and they are picked again to win their district. Expect a strong running game from the Hawks. And interesting to some, they have a “Weishuhn” on their team. I think that makes 5 generations. Will be a great challenge and opportunity for Llano. An opportunity to get ready for August 26, first regular season game in Smithville.