The Yellowjackets win over defending State Champion Cuero Friday night in Jacket Stadium will go down as one of the great wins in Jacket history. While Cuero is not having a championship season, the Gobblers are and will be a standard held by few in Class 4 A. With 4/4 returning starters back from the State Championship team of last season, this team is loaded with talented sophomore and juniors. Ranked as high as 16th earlier in the season, Cuero has lost several games by less than a few points.
People reading this maybe for the first time, may question the soundness of beating a team that is not having a great win/loss record. But as Head Coach Matt Green pointed out Friday night after the game, Cuero still has one of the very best Coaches in the State in Travis Reeve. Their string of many State Championships goes back over 50 years. Cuero is one of the best football programs in the State. Llano had never beaten the Gobblers until Friday night.
I was fortunate to get back to my pickup after the game to listen to the “GREAT ONE”, Art Dlugach with his interviews and comments post game. Art reminded his listeners that this was the second time the Jackets have beaten a State Champion in the following year after they won State. in 2002 Bandera played Llano in the last game of the season. Winner would go to the playoffs. Llano played one of the greatest games in Jacket history playing in Bandera… But in a second over-time, Bandera won. Yellowjackets on that team such as Jason Smith, Hunter Ratliff, record holder Michael White, Jerrod Virdell, Nick Moratori, Adam Gunter, Theron Oatman, Rhett Butler and Blake Freeman to name a few. Bandera finished the season with a 5-5 record. They finished the season 11-5!…. State Champions. Llano beat Bandera the next season 42-0 in Llano.
Llano played a complete game Friday night. The defense played lights out against a quick and fast team. Where to start? Might start with the Jackets front three down lineman, that produced 7 plays for a loss. Starters Jansen Morris, Jacob Cruz, Guillermo Davila, junior Cade Ligon and Edgardo Resendiz had “Best Games” all five. Jansen went down with an injury, yet the pressure continued. Junior Dalton Enberg too is making plays. At one point in the fourth quarter, the Cuero quarterbacks had 7 straight incomplete passes. Strong secondary play. Great pass rush.
The Secondary you ask? Never has Llano had this kind of speed. Maybe should not say this but safety Aaron Brown is having an all star season. Reminds me of the safety play in the vein of past greats Billy Bickett and Chad Wootan. Great open field tackler. And do not believe Aaron has let anyone get behind him all year. His secondary members with lots of speed and savvy are super player senior Justin Yocum and junior Luke Keller at the corners. Sound tacklers both. Both Seniors Joseph Reed and and Randall Murray have really become difference makers. Making tackles for losses, and then defending in the lonely secondary.. Seniors having a great year.
Llano’s linebackers are tremendous. Great tacklers. Motors never stop. Speed. These linebackers are setting the bar very high. Junior Mason Baker, senior Logan Duggar, senior Juan Flores, senior Ryan Warner, senior Quentin Franklin are just so good. When the Jacket defense is on the field, I feel safe. Aaron Inge is contributing, as is Anthony Meza, a sophomore. Love watching these guys play. Holding Cuero to 16 points was a feat.
When you score 35 points, and your quarterback throws 5 touchdown passes, something is working. Senior Braxton Vickers is going to fill the record book. Usually calm and in control. Having a great year, and he has help. Throwing to eight different receivers this season. Great play coming from junior Jared Beasley ( 3 for 119 yards) ..two TD catches, one for a mere 81 yards to break open the game in the third quarter to put Llano out front 21-16. Catches by Senior Donaven Arrellano, Brown (4 for 36 yards), senior John Roberts two catches for 7 yards, but one a TD in the third quarter. And Luke Keller had a catch. Watched as senior Jacob Bubenik blocked great downfield for Donaven. Spreading the ball around. All of the players can score. All are fast. This Braxton lead offense is averaging 36.4 points per game. Maintained…would be a school record.
Another observation. I think this game with Cuero, junior Quincy Prince became a real receiver. Sure, he has caught lots of passes, and lots of TDs. He has won games, and showed great speed and smooth moves. But after Friday night, I totally trust Quincy. He caught 8 passes for 165 yards, and two TDs. But it was not the statistics I saw. It was the maturity that I watched as Quincy caught every pass with his hands extended out. He watched the football come into his hands, and not his chest. Then he displayed is skills. Man, where is the bar? Quincy and this group of receivers should be confident enough to worry any foe. Yardage after the catch is off the charts.
All of this and the guys that no one remembers, do all of the heavy lifting. And usually only Mom, Dad, a few grandparents, and a Coach or two know their names. Luke Hicks, Heath Godfrey, Jose Villa, Lewis McTighe, and sophomore Matthew Whitley, Enberg, Morris, and Resendiz make up an offensive line that is getting better every game. These players are the toughest on the field. Someone hits them in the mouth nearly every play. Yet they play together, and know what each other faces every play. This unit is getting strong and confident. Our record breakers know their names.
I think I have this right. After the Cuero game, Art ‘s interview with Coach Matt Green…Green said Llano would be in the playoffs, unless Cuero were to beat both Wimberley and Navarro.
Then the winner of the Llano-Bandera would be the fourth team. Make no plans yet. Bandera is 6-1, and they have a good program beginning there. New Coach, new attitude, and new beliefs. Bandera thinks they will beat the Jackets on their home field Friday night. Bandera will be playing as hard as any team Llano has played all year. And so will the Jackets play hard. But key is playing hard from the start.
Penalties prevented Llano from scoring on their first drive against Cuero. Had 6 for the night. To win, Jackets must get better. There are no easy teams to play. Everyone is playing for their lives. Beating Bandera is a must. Not a maybe, or a hope so. A must. Getting win number 6 is a must. Senior leadership can make this happen. This is the time of the year where times are serious. The mental part is the most important part. Eliminate the mistakes. And make very single play count. Beating Bandera is a must.
Llano 38 Bandera 20