September 23, 2005
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- Liberty Hill 63
27 - Blanco 13
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41 - Vista Ridge 20
Llano 34 - Comfort 20
Llano 48 - Ingram
Llano 24 - Brady
Llano 35 - Bandera
Llano 17 - Wimberly 42
Play to Win Archives
Play To Win
By Mikel R. Virdell…recording the history of the Fighting Llano
Yellowjackets since 1973.
It is hard to remember a better team victory than the 34-20
win Thursday night in Comfort. And few games come to memory with such a shocking
The first half may have been the least inspired game I have seen in years, by a group
of players going through the motions. Llano had 6 yards of offense in the first quarter,
one first down (due to a Comfort penalty), and the defense had allowed 171 yards
and 14 points. It was going to be a long Thursday night football game.
The suspension of 6 varsity football players earlier in the week was a real downer.
Disappointment would be the most descriptive word. After the first few plays you
could nearly see the Jackets saying, “Who cares?” At halftime my own
thoughts were, “let’s get this thing over with, regroup during off week,
and start district.”
Thank goodness I wasn’t on the sidelines.
Somewhere between the first and second quarter, and the beginning of the first play
of the second half, someone said the right things to a group of 16 and 17 year old
kids. Someone told a bunch of kids to get their heads up. Someone made halftime adjustments
that made the “flat as a pancake” offense come alive, as it has not seen
this season. Someone got these kids attention, and the kids…. the players,
The Players responded by being respected. The kids responded by having a Coach that
would not quit on them. The players responded because they believed in themselves.
What a great team victory, by a team that was given little chance to win on this
clear Thursday night after the first 24 minutes of play.
A play-by-play column would be fun for me, because each play was better than the
last. From the first play of the second half, when tailback Shane Pope hit the hole
hard for 3 yards. I thought that was all he had left. Then up from the JV, running
back Josh Yocum sweeps left for 14 yards. A first down by quarterback Jordan Leverett…and
so on and so on. 66 yards later, 9 running plays and Llano had tied the score up.
The Jackets running game continued on. The next drive of 97 yards (one 5-yard penalty),
covered 9 plays, the spark of 29 yards by Lance Dickey.
The next drive of 78 yards and 11 plays put the score at 27-20.
The running of Shane Pope will go down in my mind as one of the really great individual
efforts ever. He would not go down. He hit people when he was running with the football.
Shane was running under the pads of the secondary players as they came up to tackle
him. And he was holding on to the ball with both hands at all times. That presence
of mind to not be a showboat told me all I needed to know about Pope. Shane with
Lance and his speed, and a different type of speed from Yocum defied the Comfort
defense. These three underclassmen, junior quarterback Leverett, and junior quarterback
David Lindley coming in to shake up things even more…the Jackets have six highly
talented players all with different talents. Oh, did I forget to mention Jordan Clayton?
Sorry…his 20 yards rushing too gives this group something very special.
But, the credit for this win, first goes to an offensive line that was terrible the
first half, and great the second half. Junior center Jonathan Hill and guards Neil
Stripling, Kyle Miiller, Brent Wooten, and tackle Tyler Hoerster began their long
road back to re-learning “run blocking”. Blocking for the run requires
an offensive lineman to fire straight out from their four-point stance, and stay
lower than the shoulder pads of the defensive lineman they are blocking on. That
is all it takes. And the second half against Comfort, this offensive line started
doing just that. And the result was hard running by Pope, Leverett, Lance, Josh,
David, and Jordan. And their success came from hard and tough offensive lineman,
who will not get much credit for the Jackets 275 rushing yards in three quarters.
The second credit must go to a defense using many players that do not have names.
Their parents and coaches know them, but many others like me need to learn. Still,
I know Corey Ritchie, Chris Severance, Kyle Miiller, and Garrett Thompson stepped
up big time. Garrett plays so very hard on every play. He with
Ritchie, Sam Whitaker and Luke Meador do not have an off button. Lance Dickey continues
to save game breaking runs from becoming TDs, and Davis Willmann! What a special
effort from the big three year starter. Two interceptions, a TD run back to seal
the victory, and what a leader. With younger players on the field Thursday night,
Davis reminded everyone what it really means to be a Yellowjacket. Playing hard on
every play is what Davis is all about.
Whatever the Jackets are doing in practice to rid themselves of bad habits…keep
it up. The Coaching is “taking”. You done good in the win over Comfort
as pride pushes the Jackets to open week and a 4-1 record.
The suspensions this past week were the best thing to happen to Llano football in
a long, long time. Head football Coach David Yeager made a hard decision to suspend
the six players. The six players are major reasons the Jackets are a pretty good
football team. But, as we saw Thursday night, not the only reasons. Coach Yeager’s
decision, while being hard…. was not a decision to ponder for him. It was not
only the right thing to do, but it was the only thing to do. The backing from the
community has been nearly, 100%. Parents of suspended players were at the game. That
says a lot. Hopefully, with the beginning of District play, everyone associated with
the Llano Yellowjackets, will now be playing on the same team. We also now know we
have a head football coach and athletic director that has integrity. (Pointed out
to me by an old Yellowjacket) And for all the football games won, not one is worth
not having that. Yeager and his staff remind me of the saying that we had on the
mast of the original Buzz newspaper, quoted from former Wyoming U.S. Senator Alan
If you have integrity, nothing else matters;
If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters