2021 Yellowjackets Finish at 8-3

The Llano Yellowjackets fell to San Diego in the Area game last Friday night at Matador Stadium in Seguin. The final score of 35-27 reflects a close game, but with the Jackets taking the lead only once, when the Jackets went ahead 21-20 with 7:38 in the fourth quarter after a Jackson Dillard interception and an unbelievable return to the end zone where nearly every San Diego player had an opportunity to stop Jackson, but to no avail.

I have been keeping statistics for 49 years. I have never seen stats like this game.

Let’s walk thru a few numbers:

Llano kicked off to San Diego where the Vaqueros marched 61 yards in 13 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. San Diego kicked to Llano’s Sam Sueltenfuss who headed up field and then to the sidelines, where he was crushed to the ground with a dislocated elbow, and lost the football. The Vaqueros traveled the short 17 yards to the end zone on the first play of the second quarter. Score 14-0. Llano had yet run an offensive play.

At this point, San Diego had run 21 plays. San Diego had 14 points. The Jackets had allowed 76 total yards, for an average of 3.6 yards per play.

The second quarter was just as strange. Llano took the kick-off, and with the running of junior Carson Kuykendall, marched down the field in 10 plays to score. Junior Miguel Hernandez went out for the game after a targeting call and Miguels 8 yard run. Jackson hauled in a 5 yard reception from senior quarterback Maddox Green, and Carson scored from 3 yards out. Score 14-7 San Diego with 8:32 left in the half.

The Jacket defense held on three plays and forced a punt. Llano’s ball on the 48 yardline. 10 yards on a run by Maddox. 11 more Yards on three runs by Carson. Ross Prokop makes a catch for 14 yards and a first down to the 28 yardline. And the offense stalls out, so in comes junior Bryce Mize and trys a 27 yard field goal but is off just a mite.

Llano ran 21 plays and had 97 total yards. San Diego ran 28 plays and had 89 yards, for 3.18 yards per play. Really very good defense, and the Jackets average of 4.6 yards per play is all winning football.

Had you asked defensive coordinator Matt Anastasio before the game if holding San Diego to 89 yards of offense in the first half was OK? Bet he would have jumped on it.

The slow the game down formula for the Vaqueros worked very well. In the third quarter Llano made a first down after the kick-off and Carson got 22 yards on three runs. But a loss play and an incomplete pass forced the Jackets to punt. San Diego put together another slow series of plays. And 14 plays later scored and took a 20-7 lead. The Vaqueros converted on 4 third down plays. Still outstanding play from the Jacket defense. Senor Zach Watson did yoemans work in the middle of the line. Senior Matthew Whitley made several stops. Seniors Aiden Guido and Jenin Bastyens were in on key stops. Llano ran 8 plays in the third quarter. The defense held the Vaqueros to 61 yards in the third quarter.

Carson ran the ball 6 times for 40 yards beginning in the fourth quarter. Ross had a 12 yard catch from Maddox. Bryce kicked good and Llano closed the gap to 20-14 after Carson’s TD. Then on the next series, Dillard comes up with the play of the game and again Bryce kicks good. Llano leads 21-20.

So…the worst thing that can happen….San Diego runs the kick-off back for a TD and takes the lead back 28-21. An exchange of punts puts the game in the final minutes. And San Diego breaks a long 53 yard TD run and takes a 35-21 lead with 1:29 left in the game. Jackets never stopped trying. Maddox completes a 40 yard pass to junior Caden Bauman and the next play hits Briggs Green for the final score of 35-27. Junior great Jaxon Rhea was helped off the field in the first part of the fourth quarter. Maddox and Carson were moving slow. Tough physical game, and played hard by all. And a hard one to get over.

For the record, Carson had over 300 yards rushing in two play-off games. Maddox 4 TD passes. Sam had 149 yards and two TDs in the Marion game. A tribute to excellent line play.

8-3 is a very good season. By a team that kept the home field winning streak in tact to three seasons and 14 in a row.

The seniors won 21 games in two seasons. Most in school history. Other great senior classes were the 1994 and 1995 classes and they won 19. As did the 1996 and 1997 teams with 19 wins. Two District Championships. Traveling in pretty elite company here. Our small but special senior class have set the bar high. The seniors and this year’s team were fun to watch. Looked so forward to every Friday night. And as time goes forward, the seniors will too, see how special they were.

Of great note: Head Coach Matt Green won his 40th game as head coach over 5 years. He is just behind Coach David Yeager who has 43 wins in 7 seasons, earlier in the decade. When you have time, go to the school record book…type in Play To Win by Mikel Virdell…two catagories….School Records and Season records….fun to look back.

Will slowly start working on the record book. Alot will be added, plus still working on going back…way back and picking up numbers and players from the past that had wonderful accomplishments. Let me know when I miss something. And thanks for all the memories.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Moving on to Area

The 2021 Llano Yellowjackets beat Marion in Bi District for the second time in as many years in a hard fought 53-26 victory played in Pflugerville Friday night.

The Jacket defense again shut out their opponent in the first quarter of the game, and having only allowed 3 points all season in the first quarter. But the score was a bit deceiving. Marion played hard to the end, and in the fourth quarter narrowed the score to 31-26. But with 10 minutes left in the game, Llano scored 22 points from that point which included an on side successful kick, recovered by junior Isaiah Bush. Carson Kuykendall scored from 10 yards out with Bryce Mize kicking the extra point. Senior quarterback Maddox Green scored from 4 yards out, and then threw for the two point conversion to Carson. Sophomore Alex Kachura scored the final TD with a 16 yard TD catch from sophomore Briggs Green playing at quarterback. The 53 points scored by Llano is a school record for most points scored in a Play-Off game.

Llano looked like we were on cruise control by the end of the first half, and leading 25-13. But Marion had other ideas.. scoring 13 points early in the fourth quarter.

The Jackets changed the attack somewhat in the fourth quarter. While senior quarterback Green had 184 yards passing in the first three quarters, Llano shifted more to running the football in the final stanza. Carson had his best game rushing as he finished with 23 carries and 184 yards and 3 TDs. Junior Miguel Hernandez finished with 16 carries and 86 hard fought yards. Maddox also had 48 yards rushing along with three Td passes.

Junior Sam Sueltenfuss lead all receivers with 5 catches and 149 yards and 2 TDs. catches. Jackson Dillard had 2 catches and 18 yards. Sophomore Parker Parrish had one catch for an 11 yard TD catch. Ross Prokop had a catch and Brock Fly carried the ball once. Llano finished with over 500 yards in offense.

The defense played steady and with little drama. I know these defenders did not want to give up 26 points, but I really think coming off the “off week” that we started slow. And do give credit to Marion. They played to the end and played hard. Llano still had 6 sacks…Junior Kyle Gilliland, and senior Kaden Raborn had their first sacks of the season. Very strong games from Isaiah and sophomore Fitz Kennedy. Senior Jenin Basteyns had one of his best games. Jaxon Rhea was stud, helping to block, getting a sack, and causing havik. Junior Hayden Manahan lead the defense and the number of tackles. Aiden Henderickson and Ricky de la Torre so tough on the outside. Senior Matthew Whitley had a good game playing at times both ways. So too Zach Watson. And again, two interceptions helped turn the game. Both Caden Bauman and Briggs Green stopped drives with their interceptions. Fitz Kennedy, and Sam may have both had their best games.

Llano plays San Diego this Friday night in “Area” game. San Diego is 9-1, and came in second in their district. They won their district last season, so this winning thing is not new to the Vaqueros. Expect a strong run game with good and big offensive lineman. We all meet Friday night in Seguin at Matador Stadium. I guess we have all learned that any team at this level can win. The Jackets will have to show up early and play late to win this Area game. Experience will help, but it will not always make the difference. Penalties need to be at a minimum. The Jackets have done so well taking care of the football. Only 7 losses in 10 games. The defense can keep us in any game. Our offense is scoring at a 34 point pace. Llano wins # 9 in a tough one. 9-2 looks nice headed to Thanksgiving.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Take on Marion in Bi District

The Llano Yellowjackets travel to Pflugerville Friday night to take on Marion in the Bi District contest. Llano played Marion last year in the same contest and the Jackets won that game, played in Kerrville.

Marion carries a 7-3 record into the game. Llano, District Champions in 13-3AAA, are 7-2, and went undefeated in district play. Llano’s offense scored 125 points and the defense surrendered only 12 points in 4 District games.

The Jacket offense is lead by senior quarterback Maddox Green. Green has over 1,500 yards passing this season, and has thrown 17 TD passes, with only 3 interceptions. Maddox has caught a TD pass, and run for 183 yards.

Juniors dominate the next group of statistics. Junior Carson Kuykendall has 668 yards rushing, and 124 yards receiving. Junior Miguel Hernandez has 575 yards rushing and 79 receiving yards. Junior Brock Fly has 127 yards rushing.

Yellowjacket receivers are many: Junior Sam Sueltenfuss has 29 receptions and 494 yards, with 8 TD catches. Junior Ross Prokop has 31 receptions and 380 yards. Coy Kelso has 12 receptions and 176 yards, but most amazing is his 5 clutch TD catches. Junior Jackson Dillard has 9 catches and 179 yards and a TD. Miguel with 16 catches, Jenin Bastyens with a catch, Brock with one, Parker Parrish 3 catches, Ulisses Marinez has two catches and 36 yards rushing. And much injured Jordan Coronado is back in the saddle and can catch and run. Llano had 12 players catch a pass so far this season, and 12 to carry the football. Jackson Dillard also has thrown a TD pass to Maddox. Lots of weapons.

The offensive line has become special. Senior Zach Watson leads a small group, and all have played exceptional…Seniors Matthew Whitley maybe the best. Juniors Ross Edwards, Daniel Sandoval, Jaxon Lange, and Hudson Godfrey are playing like seniors.. And sophomores Dylan Kennedy, Donavan Simmons and Tanner Howell are tremendous. These players have helped Llano average 32 points per game.

The defense has been outstanding. As a fan, I’m just as comfortable when the other team has the ball as when the Jackets have the ball. Our big four control the games. Junior Jaxon Rhea and senior Zack Watson have been monsters, and many times both are playing on both sides of the ball. Linebackers Hayden Manahan and Ricky de la Torre better than last year. But after that, so many players have stepped up to make great plays and make for a great defense. Few better than Issaiah Bush and Aiden Hendrickson. Have played so hard. And River Smith has been doing it all. River really cloggs up the middle with Rhea and Watson. Makes life easy for the linebackers. Love seeing senior Kaden Raborn getting plays and making plays. Sophomore Donavan Simmons-Rodriguez and Tanner Howells are getting better every game. And juniors Cole Franklin and Daniel Sandoval are playing at a high level. Senior Matthew Whitley is playing on defense some, and he is good. Sophomores Parker Parrish and Jordan Coranado are sure future starters.

The secondary has 12 interceptions, lead by junior Caden Bauman with 4. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy has two with two sacks. Very good young player. Senior Aiden Guido is having a strong senior year. Isaiah has two interceptions, as does Jackson. Coy, Hayden and Sam are very good in the secondary. Briggs Green also has an interception. Great young sophomore.

The Jackets cannot sleep on Marion. They have beat seven pretty good teams this season. And after last years game, you can be sure this too is a revenge game for the Bulldogs. They return 15 starters from that team. So there will be plenty of players that remember. Llano’s offense can score anytime. Our defense can stop anyone. Our confidence should be at the top of the charts, but not over confident. Few mistakes, and Llano brings home # 8.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

2021 Jackets District Champions

The Jackets sweeping the 13-3A District for the second year in a row secures a place in history for these 2021 senior Jackets. Only the 1975 and 1976 teams won outright District Crowns, making only the second time this has happened. The 2021 team outscored their District foes by a score of 125 to 12.

The Jackets beat Lulling Friday night 43-2 and extended their home field winning streak to 11, going back to the last game in 2019. The Jackets “open” date is this week, and will play the fourth place team in District 14, Class 3-A. Several teams in that District could make the play-offs, with Marion or San Antonio Cole most likely. That game will likely be played on Friday, November 12th.

The 7-2 Jackets are averaging about 34 points per game. The defense has allowed 111 points this season, for an average of 12.3 points per game. Excellent numbers on both sides of the ball.

Llano was able to jump out early against Lulling. Leading 27-0 after the first quarter, and tacking on 16 more in the second quarter, it was a game easy to watch. Lulling blocked Llano’s extra point after the Jackets 5th TD, and ran it all the way back for the 2 points. But flags went everywhere. The officiating crew decided that each team had an infraction. But instead of waving the play to be a do over, they granted the two points to Lulling. That might be the right call, but not sure. Head Coach Matt Green spoke several minutes with the referees. By his body language, I’m pretty sure he thought the same. But Coach Green was in a bad spot. You’re leading 34-0 in the middle of the second quarter. Do you really want to make a big, big deal out of the two points? Our gentleman of a head coach walked away. Score 34-2.

The Jackets ready themselves for a play-off run. And while this is a veteran group. there are only 3 senior starters. 9 total seniors, and includes ones that could not even suite up due to injury. I count 9 starters from last years 13-1 team. This team knows what to expect in the play-offs. They understand how short the game can be, and understand that losers go home. A veteran team, with veteran coaches can and should have high expectations. This team is fun to watch. There is much fun ahead.

Many players had great games against Lulling, and better said, had great plays. But just as important, everyone played. Everyone contributed. And those plays can make a big difference in the play-offs. Next week we’ll talk about the meaning of the Bi-District game…give a little history, and mention a few players that have been difference makers in on this Championship year.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Secure District Crown.

The Llano Yellowjackets defeated the Blanco Panthers Friday night 35-0 in a game that secured the District Crown for the Jackets for the second year in a row. Llano plays Lulling at Jacket Stadium this Friday, and a victory there gives the Crown to Llano out right.

This will be only the second time in school history that Llano has won two district championships in a row. In 1975 and 1976 Llano won back to back Championships. The 1975 team, Coached by legendary Coach Ken Gray won the Championship for the second time in three years. The Jackets lost in Bi-District and finished with an 8-3 record. Those seniors had a 14-1 District record over three years.

The 1976 team was Coached by John Baskin. Baskin had been head coach at San Saba for many years. He left San Saba to become offensive coordinator in Llano with his old college teammate Ken Gray, where both played at Howard Payne. Llano played Rockdale in Bi-District, and lost 10-9 on a field goal with :37 seconds left in the game. The Jackets finished the season with a 7-4 record.

Rockdale went on to win the State Championship in 1976. At the end of the season, the Head Coach at Rockdale was interviewed by the Austin American Statesman newspaper. Asked which team in the playoffs was Rockdales’ toughest opponent? The Coach did not hesitate. “Llano. Llano was the toughest, we played.”

Of further interest to some, Llano’s quarterback was Shelby Wright. Shelby was All-District at safety his junior year. His senior year he was All District at quarterback. Shelby went on the play football at Tarleton State,. His sophomore year he lead Tarleton to the championship in the TAII Division, and Shelby was named National Player of the Year. Shelby was inducted into the LHS Hall of Fame in 2019 posthumously.

In 1970, and 1971 the Jackets each Won the District, but the 1970 team, which finished 9-0-1 tied with Brady, and Brady got the nod to go to the play offs, as the Bulldogs won the 21-21 game on penetrations. The 1970 team is still regarded as one of the best in school history. 7 players from that team had the opportunity to go on and play college football. It was not until the mid 1970s that two schools in a District went to the play offs.

Back to reality! Blanco was ranked ahead of Llano before our game Friday night. Plus, Blanco picked the Jackets for their Homecoming. What had we gotten our selves into? What ever it was, the Jackets knew the formula for getting the job done. The Jackets 35-0 win was complete.

The defense faced the Panthers on 10 series of plays. The Jackets defense twice held on fourth down. Five times the Panthers were forced to punt. Llano got two fumbles, and one interception. Blanco was held to about 140 yards of offense. Jacket linebackers lead by junior Aiden Hendrickson, and Fitz Kennedy were deadly. Ricky de la Torre and Hayden Manahan unblockable. The reason those linebackers are so good is Jaxon Rhea, Zack Watson, Matthew Whitley, Daniel Sandoval, River Smith, Cole Franklin and Kaden Raborn stuffed the running game trying to make yardage thru the line. It became a rough night for the Panthers. Parker Parish had a great night. As did Brock Fly and Hudson Godfrey….all playing their roles….and this bunch can claim a special number…so far only 10 points allowed in District play…109 for the season! Talk about winning numbers. This defense will keep Llano in any game going forward.

Not to forget the secondary. Caden Bauman continues to lead team in interceptions and another one Friday night. Sophomore Briggs Green is such a sure tackler. With Sam Sueltenfuss and Jenin Bastyens, Isaiah Bush, Aiden Guido, and Ryan Turner this is a tough group to have a passing game against. Super play by all.

The offense had a great, complete game, and I think senior quarterback Maddox Green had his best game as a Jacket. 16 of 21 passing for 168 Yards. 2 Td passes. 32 yards rushing, plus caught a 9 yard pass for a touchdown. The rushing game was spot on. Carson Kuykendall had 11 rushes and made 5 first downs. Miguel Hernandez carried 15 times and produced 4 first downs.

c Green completed 16 passes to 5 receivers. Jackson Dillard the longest with a 41 yard catch. Ross Prokop with the most, with 5 catches. Coy Kelso with 4 catches, 37 yards and another great catch deep in the end zone for a TD catch…Carson 3 catches and 23 yards. And leading Jacket receiver for the season, Sam Sueltenfuss 3 for 45 yards and a TD catch. This is a strong receiving group, and they each make the other better.

Extra applauds to Ricky, Isaiah, Guido, Briggs, Brock, Dillard, Parker and River Smith…all special effort on special teams. Love Miguel’s punting. Not bad…not bad at all!!

Our offensive line is just pretty darn good. Center Jaxon Lange is outstanding. Senior Zack Watson a beast. Senior Matthew Whitley so tough and solid. Juniors Ross Edwards and Daniel making few mistakes…Others like Donavan Simmons and Dylan Kennedy playing like veterans. And Jaxon Rhea coming in to block is a mismatch for most. Tanner Howell is already good and getting better. These guys protect Maddox and make the run game go. And Ulisses Martinez has shown to be a good blocker downfield…good effort.

Lulling will play their hearts out to beat Llano. Their record shows it has been a long season, but Lulling played Blanco hard and close two weeks ago. Can expect the same at Jacket Stadium Friday night. But Llano must keep improving, and not look ahead. Playing hard is important also, as the Jackets’ “bye” week is following week. The Jackets do not need to take two weeks off. Work hard, practice hard, get to 7-2 record, and win that District Crown with back to backs…for the first time in 45 years. That is special.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Escape Lago Vista…Again

The show down game of the year for the Llano Yellowjackets, again was against District 13-3A rival LagoVista. Again it was figured to be close. And again, it was.d Llano came away with a 13-10 victory at Jacket Stadium Friday night, but not before Llano lost the lead with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter. The Lago Vista quarterback went straight up the middle of the field on a 51 yard run that put the Vikings up 10-7. Why this was very shocking to Jacket fans is because the Llano defense had previously forced the Vikings to punt on 7 consecutive set of downs.

The Vikings scored on their first possession, driving for 9 plays down to the 9 yard line where a successful 26 yard field goal gave Lago Vista the lead at 3-0. The 3 points were the first points scored in the first quarter against the Jacket defense this season.

So how did the Jackets pull this one out? Same as always. Playing till the end of the game. To make it harder, Llano took the kick-off and went 3 and out before you could say “Uncle”. But Llano’s Coaches had three time outs in their pocket. Lago Vista being confident they could run out the clock, ran the ball on all three plays. And the defense stopped all three, and called time out after each play.

So, on fourth and 7, Lago punted. Well, sorta punted. The ball went straight up and fell to earth on the scrimmage line for a net punt of 0. Jacket football on the 46 yard line.

Jacket senior quarterback Maddox Green hit junior wide receiver Sam Sueltenfuss on an out pattern for 16 yards and a first down. Then Maddox took one for the team, sprinting to the outside for a 14 yard gain, and a Viking defender thought it best to make sure Maddox was out of bounds. Bam bam…and 15 yard penalty on the Vikings. Llano was set up on the 13 yardline. First down Maddox throws to junior Ross Prokop for another first down and 10 yards. Llano on the 3 yard line. Carson Kuykendall took the football and scored on first down. Llano took the lead 13-10 with 1:03 left in the game.

Game still not over. Lago had the football on the 38 yard line. 13 yard pass completion. First down. 17 yard run. First down. Another 13 yard run. First down, but a holding penalty and time running out Lago needed to throw the football. And in steps junior Isaiah Bush in front of a pass and Jackets win with :13 seconds left in the game.

Llano is now 5-2 for the season, and 2-0 in district play. Lago Vista is now 4-3 for the season and 1-1 in district play.

There are no good losses, and few losses that moral victories really matter. But I do believe the Jackets never blinked in the Lago Vista game is because they played so hard and to the last play two weeks ago against a good Ballinger team and lost 35-34. On the last play. The Jackets mettle is getting stronger.

Coaches don’t call the right plays. Fans don’t show up with spirit and enthusiam. It’s the weather. Or the defense let us down. Or the offense just was never in sync. It does take everyone. Both offenses Friday night were averaging over 30 points a game. Could the Jacket defense really step it up to meet this challenge?

The Jacket defense stepped it up the best I have seen in a long time. When Llano held Lago Vista to zero yards in the third quarter…has this ever happened? Three runs, three passes. Nothing. On top of that the Vikings punter punted twice for 42 and 60 yards, putting the Jackets on the 6 and the 20 yard lines. Before that, he punted twice and put Llano deep in our own territory on the one and five yard lines. Which made it tough for the offense to get clever. Still Llano drove out to the 41 yard line and used 10 plays in the third quarter on the drive.

Both teams showed up to win. Said this last season. Would not want to play them again, but we might…we just might.

Jackets played so hard. Can’t say enough about linebackers Hayden Manahan, Ricky de la Torre and Fitz Kennedy. Lineman Zach Watson, Jaxon Rhea played both ways, as did senior Matthew Whitley. All studs. Daniel Sandoval, Dylan Kennedy, Tanner Howell and River Smith are playing fantastic. Secondary is not a weakness. Bauman, Dillard, Sam, Brock Fly, Briggs Green, and Isaiah are menacing to any quarterback……I’ve missed some great players, but will catch up next week, after we beat Blanco If we remember, Blanco played Llano very close last year, and this year we travel to Blanco. It may feel like after Lago Vista, we should let up. Nope, cannot happen. These seniors showed they want to win District, and two in a row may be for the first time ever! Still need to look up more information. In 1970, Llano went 9-0-1 and were Co-Champions, but did not go to the play offs. Then in 1971 went 5-4 and won District and went to the play offs. This is special. Beating Blanco will not be easy. Blanco is trying to save their season. Just like at Ballinger, some teams play better at home. Blanco will play Llano the best game they play all year. It will be that important to them.

It must be that important to the Jackets. Senior leadership guys, time for everyone to step it up. Beating a good Blanco team is a must, and the Jackets need to continue to improve. Let’s roll to 6-2.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Shutdown Comfort

The Llano Yellowjackets beat Comfort on their home field Friday night 34-0 in the opening weekend of District 13-3A. The Jackets are now 4-2 on the 2021 season, and 1-0 in District play.

The Jackets scored on the third play of the game, and the 7th play on offense to take a strong 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. The defense held the Bobcats to 20 yards of offense on 10 plays in the first quarter.

Maddox Green on the third snap of the game ran straight up the middle for 55 yards and the first score. The senior quarterback for Llano would later complete three touchdown passes, all to junior wide receiver Sam Sueltenfuss. Sam finished with 72 yards receiving, and now has 6 receiving touchdowns for the season. Junior running back Carson Kuykendall has 11 Tds for the season. Junior receiver Coy Kelso has 4 TD catches on only 7 catches, averaging over 20 yards per catch. Junior Ross Prokop is tied with Sam with 20 receptions for the year. Junior Miguel Hernandez has 12 catches out of his running back position along with his 448 yards rushing, and 2 touchdowns. Carson has rushed for 496 yards and has caught 5 Green passes.

The offensive line has gotten better each game. Seniors Zach Watson and Matthew Whitley are monsters at times. And can be dominating. Both are having great senior years. Juniors Daniel Sandoval, Ross Edwards, Hudson Godfrey and center Jaxon Lange are peaking at the perfect time. Sophomores Dylan Kennedy and Tanner Howell are young stars. Jesus Chacon and Kaden Raborn are very valuable back-ups.

The Jackets have about 15 players that can play, and do play defense. 11 sacks in 6 games. Lead by linebackers Hayden Manahan and Ricky de la Torre. Lineman Cole Franklin and Jaxon Rhea each have two. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy, juniors Briggs Green and Brock Fly each have one. Isaiah Bush is really coming on strong….and so too Tanner Howell, and Briggs, both sophomores. Zach playing both ways has my heart. Never slows down. Keep writing down #s 12 and 19.. Jenis Bastyens and Aiden Guido…having very strong senior years. And love the play of Caden Bauman and Aiden Hendrickson, both juniors. Caden along with fellow junior Jackson Dillard each have 2 interceptions from their safety positions…making that secondary strong. Brock Fly has been playing alot on both sides of the ball. One solid football player and a sure tackler. Has run the football for 127 yards on 13 carries and a puffy 9.8 yards per carry. And always like seeing #33, Ulisses Martinez…what energy running the ball and a 6 yard average per carry. And I have a place on my notepad when a player jumps out to me really doing extra….Isaiah…Kyle Gilliland….Parker Parish another sophomore…Ulisses….and every week…River Smith…great effort, never gives up on a play…and Cole…always around the football…extra effort by all.

Now we get serious. Lago Vista. “Rivalries”may be an over used adjective, but in only 6 games of play to date, the Lago Vista game has become that. When playing at Lago Vista in 2019…the Jackets lost to a team they should not have….the Vikings just rose up and beat us. Then last season we are in the District together. Everyone knows it will be between us and them. And it is a full 48 minutes of rough physical football. Lo and behold, we meet again in the State Quarterfinals…everything on the line….A gut tearing game that in which the Jackets prevail, but leaves a bad taste in everyones mouth…YUK

Rivalry…yes, I think that is what it is…add to the drama is the defensive coordinator of the Vikings is no other than Brad Kassell, formerly Jacket Quarterback, Safety, All Everything…, still holds the record for most tackles at North Texas State,,,and those years in the Pros….we watched every Sunday….Now…he is on the Vikings sidelines….Rivalry….I think this is what it means.

I love this game…can’t wait like all Jacket fans and family for Friday night. Old rivalries like Brady and Burnet gave you that same feeling in the gut. Lago also sits at 4-2 for the year. I suspect we have similar teams. Both good. I like it that the Vikings will be favored. And like it Llano will get to play the Vikings in Yellowjacket Stadium. This one too, will be special. This one for the District crown, or pretty close to it. Has been about 25 years since Llano won back to back District Championships. Our seniors will be playing for something special.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets Open District Play @ Comfort

The 3-2 Llano Yellowjackets play Friday night at Comfort to open the 3-A Div. I District 13 race playing at Comfort. The Jackets hold a 3-0 advantage lifetime against the Bobcats. Comfort is 1-5 going into District play, having played good teams in Mason, Marion and Hondo.

With the cancellation last Friday of the Lake Belton game, the Jackets take to the road for the second game in a row. Comfort is a very strong program with consistency of playing hard and surprising many teams. Comfort made the playoffs last season. And while pollsters may pick the Jackets to win, that is hardly the case many times, as the Jackets found out two weeks ago when traveling to Ballinger. Teams play harder on the home fields. Teams play harder and sometimes differently when District begins. District play is a new season. Injured players get well. Adjustments are made on both sides of the ball. To take Comfort lightly would be a big mistake.

The Jackets too should be more well. I say that as game time will tell the details. Starters that may return to play include Jaxon Rhea, Jackson Dillard, Briggs Green, Jordan Coronado and others. Depth is so important when the whistle blows Friday night. Having strong and well players ready to go into a game at any moment is crucial. Llano being well is a must. Unless miracles happen, Abel Prince is not expected to play this season. Having Miguel Hernandez and Carson Kuykendall to step right in at the running back position has been a life saver.

The Jackets have the same District as last season. Lago Vista at 3-2 will come to Llano the following week. Then Llano travels to Blanco, and the last regular season game has Lulling coming to Jacket Stadium. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. The only game that counts is beating Comfort. One game at a time.

This is a time of the year I point out the importance of the seniors. Leadership by players that have been there is crucial. Senior Maddox Green quarterback is the leader, followed right behind with two way starter Zack Watson. Offensive lineman Matthew Whitley has been so good and solid all year. Aiden Guido really stepped it up this year. A great effort all year. And Jenin Basteyns with Kaden Raborn are helping is role spots. Just wish there were more of them. This is their final season as Jackets. They can make every play count. And show younger Jackets this is the time of the year that we get serious. Getting serious by beating Comfort Friday night is the first step.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

Jackets, Bearcats in Slugfest

Some games you never forget. Even in details. Bi-District-Llano- Rockdale in 1976. Jackets lost in the final seconds on a field goal 10-9. Bi-District Llano- Bastrop in 1973. Llano won 7-0. Llano –Fredericksburg 1977. Llano won 35-34. Bi-District 1997- Llano- Cuero. Cuero won 13-7. And only last season, Llano-San Saba. Llano won 35-31.

In my mind, the Ballinger game will be on that short list. The Jackets played their hearts out, and still lost. Ballinger played their hearts out, and played in a game they will remember for the rest of their lives. Bearcats won 35-34 in over-time. After the San Saba game last season, the Armadillos went home with all the respect in the world from Llano fans and players. I suspect that not a Bearcat or Bearcat fan didn’t hold as much respect for the Jackets.

Opening the game, each teams defense showed up and forced punts. But on the Jackets second possession, Llano drove 10 plays and 57 yards down to the 5 yard line. Llano pulled off a fake punt on fourth down when junior Carson Kuykendall ran 21 yards and a first down. Senior quarterback Maddox Green hit junior Brock Fly for a five yard gain. Four plays later Maddox hit junior Sam Sueltenfuss for 21 yards and a first down. Junior Miguel Hernandez made 4 yards to set up a field goal attempt by Sam on a 22 yard try. And the field goal is good and Llano lead 3-0.

Ballinger had the football and drove to the 31 yard line. Fourth down. The Jacket defense held. Llano’s defense has not allowed a point in the first quarter this season. Great effort by senior Zach Watson, juniors Isaiah Bush, Caden Bauman, Fitz Kennedy, Coy Kelso and a 6 yard loss by linebacker Ricky DeLa Torre ended the quarter. Ballinger started with the ball on their 25 yard line. Two pass plays, and 9 running plays. Ballinger had a running back that was 6’2, and 215 pounds. To say he was a load is an understatement. A real work horse. The Jacket defense was tough, but not enough. The quarterback scored on the 10th play and Ballinger went up 7-3. Outstanding play by Tanner Howell and River Smith, both juniors.

The Jackets recovered a Ballinger fumble on the next series. First play Maddox to Sam for 41 yards down to the 6 yard line. A 10 yard penalty did not faze Llano. Maddox went back to Sam for the 16 yard TD catch. Llano lead 9-7 The Jackets ended the half when junior Hayden Manahan sacked the quarterback of Ballinger for an 11 yard loss.

Llano kicked off to Ballinger. The Bearcats were held, but a ruffing the passer put Ballinger back in business. Two long passes of 23 and 44 yards put the Bearcats on the scoreboard and went ahead 13-9. Sam blocked their extra point try.

Llano only had the ball four plays in the third quarter. But that was all they needed. 8 yards by Carson. Four by Miguel. And then a 37 yard completion to junior Coy Kelso for the TD and Llano lead 15-13.Maddox was 8 for 15 and 124 yards thru the first 3 quarters. Llano only had the ball on offense for 9 plays total in the second and third quarters.

The fourth quarter would be a bugger. The Jacket defense had been on the field 38 plays in the second and third quarters. And on the first play of the fourth quarter, Ballinger scored and went ahead 21-15. Llano came right back. Completions to junior Ross Prokop for 10 and 5 yards. Sam for 12 more. And Sam for the final 12 yards and the TD toss from Maddox. The extra point was blocked and we had a 21-21 game.

Junior Caden Bauman intercepted the first play of the Bearcats from his safety position. Llano was unable to move the football and Ballinger had the ball on the 29 yard line. A great play by junior Cole Franklin for no yards halted the drive for a moment. But pass completions of 18 yards and 35 allowed the Host to score. 28-21 Bearcats.

No give up in the Jackets. A 15 yard kick off return by Sam. Maddox hit Carson for 14 yards. and the final 45 yards was a picture perfect pass from Maddox to Coy for the TD. Sam kicked good and score 28-28. Llano defense held on the Bearcats final drive. Fitz Kennedy, Hayden, Ricky and Bush had game stopping plays. Actually, Caden Bauman’s second interception of the night ended the drive. Aiden Guido and Aiden Hendrickson had great games. And now into over-time.

Set up on the 25 yard line, Ballinger scored in 4 plays, despite two outstanding plays by Manahan. Kick was good, score 35-28.

Llano’s turn. 10 yard catch by Ross, and a face mask had the Jackets on the seven. Miguel for 4 yards and Carson in from the three. 35-34. Sam to kick…but this time, no good.

Every player. Every Coach. Both sides. Every fan. All were exhausted beyond description. I tried to find Zack Watson, who had been playing both ways. Great plays by Ulisses Martinez, Jaxon Lange, Ross Edwards, and Dylon Kennedy. Senior Matthew Whitley was outstanding. Junior Daniel Sandovall getting so much better weekly. Jordan Coronado coming off injury, hurt again. Jenin Bastyens making plays as a senior. Tremendous effort. Everyone.

Do not remember a game in which a player was so outstanding, as was the case with Hayden Manahan. 19 tackles, solo!.. I’ve never heard of such a feat. His leadership is making this defense one to be reckoned with, by everyone we play. And his cast of “take no survivors” defenders are special.

Except for the barrage of injuries, this could turn out to be a great game for the Jackets. Will be hard to see where Llano will face a team as physically tough as Ballinger. And Llano proved to themselves they could keep coming back, even to the end. Even when being behind 3 times, and coming back each time. This kind of game will make Llano better. Beating a weak Sonora team had little value. This game had value. You want to win every game. And Llano expects to win every game. And Llano starts District next. And the Jackets expect to win.

Will write again next Monday. We will talk about the District race that begins next week. Jackets…get healed and well. And thanks for the memory.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment

48-18 Jackets Over San Saba @ Graveyard


The 2021 Llano Yellowjackets scored on all 8 of their offensive possessions and beat the San Saba Armadillos 48-8 at the “Graveyard’ Stadium Friday night to improve their over all record to 3-1 for the season. Likely being over 20 years since Llano has played San Saba, the Jackets improve their over all record against the long time rival to 33-32-1.

Llano hardly missed a positive beat Friday night. Senior quarterback Maddox Green was 12 for 17 passing and 128 yards. Junior Miguel Hernandez playing only the first half had about 50 yards rushing and caught a pass for 14 more. Junior Ross Prokop lead Jacket receivers with 4 catches and 118 yards from Maddox. And Maddox found Jackson Dillard, Sam Sueltenfuss, and Ulisses Martinez for key receptions. Plus big brother also threw to Brother Briggs Green for 21 yards and a Jacket first down. 6 Yellowjackets caught passes, and 5 Jackets carried the football, with Maddox and Brock Fly scoring from the ground. Carson Kuykendall carried most of the load, as Miguel was held out the second half due to an injury that Coaches did not want to aggravate. Carson ended the game with about 130 yards and five rushing Tds.

A complete team win. Love how the offensive line improves every week. Seniors Zach Watson and Matthew Whitley are showing the leadership. Both seasoned starters from last year. And Juniors Ross Edwards, Daniel Sandoval, and Jaxon Lange are better than sound.

Again, want to mention the play of special teams. Going down on kick offs sometimes is dangerous. Jenin Bastyens, Ricky De la Torre, Isaiah Bush, Fitz Kennedy, Aiden Guido, Ross Prokop, Brock Fly and Cole Franklin show no fear.  Great coverage.

Posted in Play to Win | Leave a comment