The 2022 Llano Yellow Jackets beat a very good Industrial team Friday afternoon in Heroes Stadium in San Antonio to advance to the State Quarterfinals for only the second time in school history. The 42-17 win was also the second time in school history in which the Jackets have ever had a 13-0 record.
The Jackets created a stir as the beginning of the game as things did not go has planned. The Industrial Cobras lost the opening coin toss, but for the first time, the Jackets elected to defer to the second half, meaning Llano kicked off to the Cobras. One first down, the quarterback for Industrial darted 28 yards down to the 4 yard line. The Jackets had allowed the Cobras a nice kick off return of 48 yards, with senior Jackson Dillard making the stop. Then on the third play of the game, Industrial scored from 4 yards out. Llano was behind for the first time in the play-offs, 7-0.
The Jackets were slow to wake up. On the first possession, the Jackets were forced to punt on fourth down, and Dillard got off his best punt of the season with a 72 yard kick that rolled all the way to the 8 yard line. Junior quarterback Briggs Green was the first down field to cover.
The Cobras completed a 31 yard pass, but the Jacket defense took over. 5 yards of losses forced a punt. Senior Carson Kuykendall two runs for 15 yards, and then a Briggs pass to Dillard for 62 yards and the first Jackets score. Now, we could settle down. 7-7 score.
The Cobras’ next possession again saw the Jacket defense excel. Senior leading tackler Hayden Manahan sacked the quarterback, with help from senior Jaxon Rhea. The Cobras punted. Llano put together an 11 play drive down to the 18 yard line. Senior Sam Sueltenfuss had a 14 yard run for a first down. 18 more yards on a pass reception by senior Coy Kelso and another first down. Five more carries by Carson. Llano faced fourth down, and Bryce Mize attempted a 35 yard field goal, but it was a bit off. The Cobras took over. But not for long. Great pressure by the defense showed up. Ricky De La Torre had a super afternoon, as did Bryce and junior safety Braeden Hatfield. And to say senior Isaiah Bush had a good day is an eye roller. Bush picked off the first of his 3 interceptions for the afternoon. A good days work.
Carson, Briggs and senior running back Miguel Hernandez all carried the ball, and then on second down, Briggs again found Ross for a 21 yard strike and the Jackets lead 14-7 with 8:44 left in the half. Mize’s kick was good. Bryce has been so good all season, and his 6 extra points in the play off game goes in the record book.
Unfortunately, the Cobras were still fighting. And an 8 play drive put the Cobras on the 14 yard line, in which they scored and tied the score at 14-14 for the first half.
Many worried at halftime. But not to worry. Remember, Llano received the second half kick off. And Miguel took the ball on the 6 yard line, and went up the middle of the field for a big 66 yard gain., setting up the Jackets on the 28 yard line. On third down, Briggs found senior Ross Prokop for a 32 yard completion and the TD. Bryce kicked good and the Jackets lead 21-14. Then….Llano kick off. The high “bloopper” kick did the trick. It bounced, and Llano’s JJ Vaughn recovered and Llano was in business. First play, Dillard was running to the end zone. Briggs threw the ball, but the Cobra defender had tripped Dillard. They tumbled together in a heap at the one yard line. Yet, as the ball came to earth, Dillard, on the ground reached up for the catch. Carson did the honors and scored standing up for Llano 28-14 lead.
The Cobra’s last real life was an 11 play drive late in the third quarter. But Braeden, Isaiah, senior Ulisses Martinez and senior Kyle Gilliland made the Cobras work for every inch. Caden Bauman, Charlie White, Brock Fly ( 14 stops), Cole Franklin, and junior linebacker Fitz Kennedy (9 tackles) made the defense proud. The Cobras settled for a field goal late in the quarter, making the score 28-17.
The fourth quarter was great, as again, Rhea, Kyle, Cole and Bryce applied the pressure, and on the first two possessions by the Cobras, Bush ended their drives with interceptions. Three for the game. The Jackets have now intercepted 27 passes this season. Llano did not throw a pass in the fourth quarter. Miguel ended the game with 41 yards rushing, and his 66 yard kick off return made for a 105 yard day. Carson had 161 yards rushing on 30 carries. I think this is his most carries in a game this season. What a work horse. Dillard ended the day with four catches and 156 yards, and two TDs. And a remarkable stat is Briggs completed 7 of 14 passes for 201 yards…a plus 29 yards per completion. The Yellow Jackets…no turnovers. Llano only had two penalties, and non the second half.
Dillards 4 punts averaged 43 yards. Briggs had a rushing TD. The Jackets receivers…just get it close…Ross, Sam, Coy, and Jackson…and they will catch it. And all of this would not happen without those big ugliest up front. Ross Edwards, Juice Lange, Daniel Sandoval, Brannen Green and Dylan Kennedy…and senior Hudson Godfrey…a super three year starter. Parker Parrish, Coy and Cole are very good blocking downfield.
When you get to game number 14 for the season, the stats start adding up, but like the song says, don’t count your money until the dealing is done.
This surprise of beating down a good Industrial team was nothing but this team playing smart and staying intense. Llano did not panic after the first half. They became serious and concentrated. Llano now plays a team ranked above them and has for whole season. Ranking means little at this point.
There are only 8 teams left in the State Play-offs. This is called the quarterfinals. Games being played in 3AAA Div 1: Llano- Edna….Grandview-Malakoff…Columbus-Franklin….and Brock-Whitesboro…Everyone left is very good. Jackets advance, by traveling to San Marcos Thursday evening at 7 PM and beating Edna by 8.