The Llano Yellow Jackets won their 18th home game in a row, extended its season record to 8-0, and set up a District Championship game to be played this Friday in Blanco. Should the Jackets beat Blanco Friday night, Llano will have won the District Championship outright, three years in a row. Llano has won championships, co-championships, and tri-championships in a row, but never three Championships in a row. The Jackets are 29-4 over the past two plus seasons.
The Marion Bulldogs came into last Friday nights game looking like the new bully on the block, as they had beaten Blanco the pervious Friday night by a score of 48-6. A win by Marion would have put the Bulldogs in the drivers seat for the lead in district 13-AAA Div.1 play.
The Bulldogs found out plenty early that Llano too, had come to play. The Jackets scored on their first possession, driving 6 plays, all on the ground when senior running back Carson Kuykendall scored from one yard out with 8:14 left in the first quarter. Carson, junior quarterback Briggs Green, senior running back Miguel Hernandez and senior wide receiver Ross Prokop all had carries.
The Jackets took the field on defense. Senior linebacker Ricky De La Torre forced a quarterback hurry on a pass, and Brock Fly had a stop for a loss. The Jackets forced a field goal try, which was not good.
The Jacket defense played one of its best games. Senior linebacker Luke Turner may have had his best game as a Jacket, forcing two fumbles and being in on tackle after tackle. Linebacker Hayden Manahan was his usual aggressive self and lead the team in tackles. Senior lineman Kyle Gilliland had a great night from the trenches, making life hard on the offensive lineman of Marion. Seniors Jaxon Rhea and Bryce Mize put pressure on the Marion quarterback continuously. Quarterback sacks came from Jaxon and Kyle. Senior linebacker Gavin Anderson and junior Frank Machuga had great nights. And Russell Nelson too is making a hand at linebacker. Overall, a super night for the defense.
Can’t get away from the defense without saying junior Braeden Hatfield had a record tying night, with three interceptions. Tied former great David Hoskins who had three interceptions in one game in the mid 1990s’. Super heads up play. And the secondary gets better and more confident each week. Seniors Ulisses Martinez, Caden Bauman, Isaiah Bush are all studs. Wonderful play from all. Junior Fitz Kennedy plays defense too. I just have no idea where he plays. He’s defending a pass on one play, the next he is running down a running back in the backfield, and run stuffing a quarterback next. Tremendous player. The defense is allowing less than 9 points per game over the last 6 games. Winning football.
The Jacket offense is steady. Both Carson and Miguel had nearly 130 rushing each Friday night. Both are averaging 7.2 yards per carry this year. Briggs found 10 different receivers to catch the ball, and 15 different Jackets handled the football. Might add that there is little drop off when senior Remington Hipp is carrying the football, or junior Dusty Miller.
Cole Franklin blocks. So does Coy Kelso and Parker Parrish. And so does Sam Sueltenfuss and Jackson Dillard. And Ross Peokop. And junior Alex Kachura. And they all can catch the football. Great group of receivers. Oh, and the lineman are getting stronger and better. Ross Edwards, Juice Lange, Brannen Green, Hudson Godfrey, Aden Smith, juniors JJ Vaughn, Frank Machuga, Donavan Rodriguz, Dylan Kennedy and Hunter Brown. And Daniel Sandoval plays hard on both sides of the ball, having a super senior season as a three year starter. Game number 9. Time for it all to be coming together.
Improvement is still the name of this season. Must work on limiting the penalties. That’s mental. You can practice that at home. It’s an individual challenge.
Blanco is wounded and hurt. They still have a chance this season to get back to being respectable, and make a play off run. And for the Panthers, that can all begin this Friday night against the Jackets. Llano embarrassed the Panthers last season, when we mauled Blanco at its Homecoming Game. Blanco has many talented players, and return 16 starters from last seasons team. They will make a stand on its home field Friday night. This was the game everyone was thinking about only 60 days ago in August. Friday night, nothing has changed. Llano can’t sleep on this sound football team. The Jackets hold a 5-2 over all advantage against Blanco all time. Let’s make it 6-2 Friday night. Llano by 24.