CAPTION: Llano football head coach Matt Green congratulates his Yellow Jackets on winning a bi-district championship 44-0 against Cotulla Nov. 10. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Llano High School football team fired on every cylinder during its 44-0 bi-district championship win against Cotulla Nov. 10.
“It’s been awhile since we played a full game,” head coach Matt Green said, noting the Jackets have played in many contests that featured running clocks in the second half because of their big leads. “We’re going to enjoy this. Our kids needed to play a full game, and they did tonight. Anytime you win 44-0 in the playoffs, you have to play well.”
The Yellow Jackets (11-0, 6-0 District 13-3A Division I champion) turn their attention to Golid in the area round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Comal Pieper Ranch High School, 1400 Kinder Parkway in San Antonio.
Against the Cowboys, Llano raced to a 30-0 lead in the first half thanks to a dominant performance in all three phases though the first points came in an unusual way.
After the two teams exchanged interceptions and Llano turned the ball over on downs, Cotulla was forced to punt from its 13-yard line. The ball sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a 2-0 Llano lead with 6 minutes and 41 seconds left in the first stanza.
That triggered an onslaught.
Senior receiver Jackson Dillard caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Briggs Green to cap a 10-play, 46-yard drive that chewed 3:35. Senior Bryce Mize added the extra point for the 9-0 lead.
Llano senior defensive back Isaiah Bush followed senior defensive back Ulysses Martinez’s interception with one of his own.
Green and senior running back Carson Kuykendall did the rest. Kuykendall finished the five-play, 27-yard drive in 1:36 when he ran into the end zone from nine yards out for a 16-0 advantage.
After another Cotulla punt, Llano senior running back Miguel Hernandez ran 66 yards and used a stiff arm for the final few yards. In their haste to tackle him, the Cowboys ripped the Jacket’s helmet off and forced him out of the game for a play. Kuykendall added his second touchdown from two yards for a 23-0 advantage with 10:47 left in the half.
The Llano kickoff team gave the possession right back to the Jackets when they recovered a live ball the Cowboys didn’t field or fair catch. Seventy-three seconds later, Hernandez caught a 16-yard pass from Green for the touchdown and a 30-0 lead at the half.
The two teams exchanged possessions for most of the third quarter. Cotulla called for a fake punt on fourth-and-3 from its 30 that Llano stuffed.
Three plays later, Green hit Dillard for a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 37-0 advantage with 1:27 left in the third stanza.
Llano’s final touchdown came midway through the fourth quarter. The quarterback threw to senior receiver Ross Prokop who out-sprinted everyone to the end zone for a 64-yard score to finish a two-play, 64-yard drive that took 20 seconds to complete.
The Jackets earned 462 yards of total offense with 311 coming 39 rushes. Kuykendall had 22 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns and caught 2 passes for 9 yards. Hernandez had 5 rushes for 82 yards and 2 receptions for 11 yards and a score.
“Miguel played well and refused to be tackled,” the coach said. “Carson grinded out some tough yards. He ran the ball effectively.”
Green completed 11 of 22 passes for 151 yards, 4 touchdowns, which gives him 24 on the season, and 2 interceptions. Dillard caught 3 passes for 54 yards and 2 scores, while Prokop had 3 receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
“Briggs played well, I’m proud of him,” coach Green said of his son. “He made a couple of mistakes and messed some plays up. We have to get in better shape between now and next week.”
Cotulla had 184 yards of total offense, unofficially with 157 coming from 35 rushes and 27 passing yards on 6 receptions.
The Llano defensive backs did more than sting the Cowboys; they made it impossible to have multi-play drives in the first half. Martinez had 2 interceptions, while senior defensive back Caden Bauman and Bush had 1 apiece. Llano now has 23 interceptions on the season.
“It was a great night for our defense,” the coach said. “We had four turnovers, all four on interceptions. Give credit to our defensive line and our linebackers. They put a lot of pressure on their quarterback.”
“A defensive shutout is a statement,” Bauman said. “(Defensive coordinator Matt Anastasio) told us a shutout. In the second half, we didn’t want to give up a touchdown.”
He credited Anastsio and coaches Beau Burnett and Todd Doucet for the secondary’s ball-hawking skill at nabbing interceptions.
“They work us hard,” he said. “We do lots of one-on-ones. If they’re slinging it a couple of yards from our zone, we’re ripping into it.”
Like the defensive backs, the linebacking corps of seniors Brock Fly, Ricky de la Torre and Hayden Manahan and junior Fitz Kennedy have a chemistry that allows that unit to excel, Manahan said.
“We all like to get after each other,” he said. “We’re pretty competitive, every single one of us. It makes it fun. We all have a bond.”
Goliad beat Rio Hondo 60-10 Nov. 10.
“Goliad is a good team,” the coach said. “You better get your mind right. We’ll have to play excellent to beat them.”
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