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October 15, 2007
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Play To Win
By Mikel R. Virdell…recording the history of the Fighting Llano Yellowjackets since 1973.
Scoring the third most points in school history, and a school record 617 yards rushing, as well as a team record of 707 total offensive yards, this game would seem like a great week for a break. But the Jackets 68 to 35 win may have be cause for more work, not less.
The elephant in the room is the major concern of the defense giving up an average of 33 points per game over the past three weeks. The 463 yards by the Crusaders Friday night can’t be just ignored. Llano coaches know one thing: Bandera, Ingram and Wimberley will notice. 24 completions by St. Michaels, and no turnovers by Llano’s defense is the weak link in the 5-2 record of the Jackets. The 5-1 record of the Crusaders was no fluke. St. Michaels was actually ranked higher than Llano in one poll. It only took the game Friday night to foil that mistake. Still, Llano has much work to do, and a short two weeks to remedy the defense.
Llano’s nine offensive possessions, and nine TD’s has got to be another incredible record. Llano could have been playing their own 8th graders and might not have scored on 9 of 9 possessions. Three running backs with these numbers: Lance Dickey 10 carries & 202 yards, Ty Thurman 15 carries & 176 yards, and Wes Regmund’s 8 carries and 149 yards. Everyone over 10 yards per carry. Add in quarterback Trey Brook’s 5 of 6 passing for 90 yards, plus newcomer running back Andrew Ratliff with 6 rushing yards, and you have a great combination of speed, quickness, and brawn. When one thinks all is pretty good, then Llano coach’s bring in junior Jordan Ashabraner ( 3 carries and 57 yards, one TD), and senior Ethan Moore ( 3 carries & 16 yards), and Taylor Maddox carries for 7 yards, who on this team can’t play running back? The only one that I have not seen carry the football is Coach Mike Pack, but word is out he will get some carries soon!
I’ve had little to say about the passing of Brooks. To date he is around 60% completions, and lots of TD passes, 8 of which have been caught by junior Walker Woolman. I was hoping Llano could keep this combination a little secret for a bit longer, but these numbers are approaching some serious discussion. Later this season we will talk again. In the meanwhile, Brooks also throws to Wes ( 2 receptions & 38 yards.) Speaking of receivers, the work of receivers in Llano’s offense might be a total of 6 plays in a game! What do they do the remainder of the game? Seniors Kyle Frizell, Seth Simpson, and junior Justin Logan have been given little credit, but Ty, and Wes, and Lance do not go the distance without someone blocking downfield. This maybe where injured senior Austin Freeman will be most missed. Key blockers all, these receivers are the ingredients that make Llano’s big burst happen. When watching a game, start looking 15 yards downfield, and you will pick up on these wide receivers doing yeomens work “ in a gray twilight that receives small notice.
When the history is written someday, someone will want to know how does a team have three backs go over a magic number of 100 yards each in one game? Are they super backs. In a view of history, they are now only at “very good”. Llano still has ½ a season the judge. But 700 yards offense! Someone is blocking on an offensive line that as a whole, will be thought of very very highly. Many of these players were on last years team that broke every school rushing record. Well…they're back. You have to lay the credit at the feet of seniors Dusty Lockhart, Michael Anderson, Jared Francis, and Seth Hensley( Injured). These four senior are tremendous blockers, and few times have not been able to get the yardage for the stars of this team. And the junior of this five-some is 290 pound Andrew Ratliff. A true bulldozer of a blocker. Few defensive lineman in our district should be able to stop this group of blockers. Junior Royce Haines, and senior Robert Ivey are in this group to be looked at by history.
In the fourth quarter against St. Michaels, junior Cory Wunderlich, senior Michael Reeves, Logan, junior Tate McWhorter, and senior Brady Vestal also blocked well. Llano’s fourth quarter running game averaged 19 yards per carry! That should be something of pride to this group of lineman.
Senior Ty Siegenthaler played maybe his best game. Brady Vestal did play his best game. Junior Linebacker Logan Davis is starting to become a very top notch linebacker. Clicking it up another notch beginning with Ingram is a must for Logan. Kyle Leyendecker, a sophomore, will help at linebacker, as he played his varsity football, and played well. We’ll start to expect big plays from him. And junior Todd Tribble played his best game. Really a hitter in the secondary. The secondary improvement must now come from the seniors. The want to is there. Cody Fietz, Seth, Lance and Wes, and Nathan Dudley can carry this team. Juniors’ Taylor Maddox and Tribble continue to improve. But carrying Llano to a district crown will require leadership. Now is the time for that aspect to kick in. These seniors have something very special, and the opportunity to make it so. Two weeks of getting better in practice is a must.
Seniors Sam Whitaker, Micahel Anderson, Francis, and Tye must work on their pass rush. It will be the key to winning the next three games. Watch the defensive lineman the next three weeks of play, and you will not have to see the scoreboard!
The Jackets are 5-2. Same record they had this time last season. This season is different. Expectations are greater. Seniors expectations are greater. Llano also is better than last year. The Jackets can win out, and get the better seed for the play-offs. This team can think bigger than some teams have in the past. This team can be special. The next two weeks of work will tell.
My next article here will be on this site by Friday. A few more thoughts, and a few more Stats!