In 1976, Llano went to Georgetown to play in Bi-District. Llano was coached by the great John Baskin. Rockdale was 10-0, and ranked #1 in the State. Llano was behind late in the fourth quarter, when Llano great Shelby Wright at quarterback marched the Jackets to about the 25 yard line. Fourth down. The score was 7-6, Rockdale. In came little Joe Ratliff to try for the go ahead field goal.
The story told to me so many times, and in simple language, Wright went over to Ratliff, put is finger in his face, and told him in the plainest of words, that he had better make the field goal. Joe Ratliff kicked the field goal, and without going back deep into the record book, there was about a minute left in the game. Llano was ahead 9-7.
Llano kicked off, Rockdale had a good run back, but the Jackets got a 15 yard penalty. Rockdale threw a complete pass. Then another incomplete, but a pass interference call put Rockdale on about the 25 yard line. Rockdale kicked the field goal and won 10-9, with less than 20 seconds in the game.
Rockdale went on to win the State Championship. Several months later in an interview with the Head Coach of Rockdale, he was asked the question, “who was the best team you played all season’? “Llano was the best”.
Just for the record, Joe Ratliff passed away about 1o years later, after taking on his family ranch duties. Shelby Wright went on to play at Tarleton University. His senior year, they won the NAIA National Championship. Shelby was NAIA Offensive Player of the Year. Shelby is still in the Llano record books, including most TD passes in a season.
The gut wrenching loss by the Yellow Jackets Friday night will take a long time to forget. Many will never forget. Llano played so hard. The seniors did everything they had to do to win. But sometimes, in sports and life, winning does not show up on the scoreboard. Llano, in my opinion played well enough to win. But that wasn’t enough.
I could go through the each play in the game, but I will leave that for next week. This week I think we all need time to reflect. We need time to heal. We need time to get past this disappointment. All in order so we can move forward. Move forward in a positive way. Knowing that we do live to fight another day. To know, be it sports, or be it your next life, that over coming disappointment is a must for a successful life. The Jacket players will hurt for a long time. The seniors will get their focus back, and when they do, all will move forward to the next game. Their games of life begin now. And with the way they played this 2017 season, all have so much to look forward to. Lessons have been learned. May not seem that way today. But the hard losses in life make you better. Make you tougher. Make you better prepared. The loss to Crystal City was a killer. But try to remember what Ratliff and Wright were able to do. Their lives had only begun after that loss to Rockdale.