The Llano High School football team has pieces in place that give coaches great optimism for the 2022 season.
The Yellow Jackets are looking to win their third consecutive district title in the fall with more experience on the lines, at receiver, at running back and in the secondary.
“We had a lot of big ball games the kids played in,” head coach Matt Green said. “The only starter we returned last year was (quarterback) Maddox (Green). Now we have the chance to be really, really good anytime you return 18 starters off a district championship team and a bi-district championship team. Those kids all played last year and got valuable minutes.”
In all, 26 lettermen return for the 2022 season.
Llano had only nine seniors on the 2021 squad after losing most of the 2020 team that reached the Class 3A state semifinals. Six of the nine seniors played. The three who didn’t play, including speed receiver Abel Prince, were injured.
Three seniors expected to provide leadership are left tackle Ross Edwards, inside linebacker Hayden Manahan and defensive end Jaxon Rhea, who all played on the 2020 team as sophomores.
“Overall, those are the three who played the most,” the coach said. “Our offensive line is going to be really, really good. I think our linebacker corp is very, very strong. I think our running backs are very deep. I think our secondary and receivers this year are going to be very significant. They’re all very, very talented, experienced and good players.”
Edwards will anchor the offensive line, which has a chance at being considered one of the best in program history.
Senior receiver Ross Prokop was the Jackets’ most consistent receiver during the final two 7-on-7 games against Burnet May 22.
About the only question mark is at starting quarterback because Maddox Green graduated. Younger brother Briggs Green, the coach’s son, and Bryce Mize are battling for the job.
“There are other kids who could do it,” the elder Green said. “To me, out of those kids, I definitely think those two are the ones we’re looking at.”
Briggs spent the 2021 season as the free safety.
With so much experience returning, coaches spent the offseason helping players fight the enemy of talent and knowledge — complacency.
“We’re working our kids hard and not being OK with team success from the past,” Green said. “We’ve had repeated discussions and trying to create an offseason that’s extremely difficult where they’re pushed so hard. Our offseason this year has been significantly more difficult.”
So far the Jackets are attacking the offseason the way coaches wanted, especially in the weight room.
“Our kids have always liked the weight room since I got here,” said Green, whose first year in Llano was the 2017-18 school year. “This team will rival, if not be stronger, than the 2020 team. Winning breeds more winning. They expect to win.”
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