The 2020 debut of the Llano Yellowjackets was a great success. On a game that began at 7:30 PM, and the temperature was a sizzling 100 degrees, and likely 20 degrees hotter down on the field, the Jackets took care of business. The win came near to evening our lifetime record against Gatesville to 4-5. records were challenged. And most important, help came in the form of new varsity players moving up, and making a difference.
I will start with the defense. Llano held the Hornets to 96 yards of total offense in the first half of play. Forced 5 punts, and allowed only one play over 20 yards. Old reliables played great. Up front, All District performers in 2019, Guillermo Davilla and Cade Ligon manhandled the trenches in the middle, often caving down the three interior lineman of the Hornets. What difference makers these two seniors are. But newcomer Lance Pierce brought home the most gold pieces, with 7 solo tackles and was in on 11 assets. Sophomore Jackson Rhea was strong on the other defensive end position. And, man are our linebackers active. Always lead by three year starter Mason Baker at middle linebacker…but with his tutelage, sophomore linebackers Ricky de la Torre and Hayden Manahan played well in their first varsity starts, and each had a QB sack. Senior Michael Silva is nothing but quick. Great varsity debut.
Really love the play of the secondary. Luke Keller just does not miss a tackle at cornerback. Had 6 solos all by himself outside on the edge. And junior Able Prince at the other corner had 3 solos, plus got his first varsity interception. Senior Aiden Cuthbertson lost his junior year to a bad injury. We got to see Friday night what the Jackets missed. Aiden is so solid at safety. Along with senior Austin Hulon at the other safety, Llano looks good down the middle.
Gatesville scored 16 points, but with a solid quarterback, and a very tough running back, take nothing away from the Hornets. I was impressed with their two successful swinging gate extra points. 2 pointers and both successful . Llano could run the same if ever needed, but when you have Jacket record holder and senior Diego Perez kicking extra points, why chance it? Diego was 6 of 6 extra points and a 28 yard field goal to go with his career totals.
The Jacket offense!! Llano had 413 yards passing. The school record was 405, by Cade Fly against Sonora in 2017. Llano completed 26 passes. So did Layton Rabb in 2012 against Boerne, the school record. The Jackets had 6 TD passes. Tied another record. And receiving yards by Jared Beasley (7 catches 167 yards) third best all time in a single game. Case Kuykendall ( 7 catches 105 yards). And school record holder in many spots, Quincy Prince two TDs and 73 yards. Maddox Green, Bode Gann, and Austin Hulon all had catches. The running game was fine, but best was 6 players carried the ball. Senior Jake Self, Gann, Green, Case, Austin Hulon, and Mason Baker taking his turn. Sophomore Miguel Hernandez ran hard, but went out with an injury. (Please get well).
I can’t decide what to do about this two quarterback system. I will need to make new categories in the record books. Junior Maddox Green and senior Kuykendall…each completed 13 passes. Each caught passes. Each ran the ball. Man, what a problem we have. Never would have dreamed this would work. Yet Case had nearly 400 yards of offense by himself. Lined up all over the field. You worry about relationships. Jealously. Conflicts. Who gets the credit? Well, I watched closely. These two players, and all the players were pulling for each other. Like a team.
When you have a special team, there has to be a special kinsmanship. There has to be more than just teammates. I’m talking special. Lots of teams have none of this. But the special ones do. Seniors make it happen. Seniors know this is their last chance. No more second chances. This team can be special. But it takes no egos with it. The 1970 team was that special team. 9-0-1. Co-District Champs. 7 players got the opportunity to play college football. And no egos.
But where I love to see a little fire power, and boostfulness? The guys that gave Maddox and Case and Jared, and Quincy the chance to make plays. The Jacket offensive line. These players know they have to get better every week, for Llano to be special. Lead by seniors Colin Mayes, Dalton Enberg, Luke Hicks (Hurt this week) and tight end Trevor Cowan. Two year starter Matthew Whitley, juniors Zach Watson, and Jesus Chacon, and sophomore Rose Edwards. These “mud hogs” can start with the 6 penalties. Need to lower that number. But still a good start.
Llano plays Sonora this week, @ Sonora. Great team with multiple State Championship banners. Llano is 5-6 all time against the Broncos. They are so tough on their home field. Llano will need every ounce to energy and smartness to win at Sonora. Let’s even that all time record to 6-6!