JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
SAN ANTONIO — The Llano High School football team was on the wrong side of Crystal City history Nov. 10 as the Javelinas got their first playoff win since 1953.
Crystal City beat the Yellow Jackets 22-18 in a Class 4A Division II bi-district championship at Edgewood Veterans Stadium in San Antonio.
“We never got the big explosive play and never got the turnover,” Llano head coach Craig Slaughter said, adding the Jackets (4-7 overall, 2-2 District 13-4A Division II) struggled to run the ball throughout the game. “You feel sick losing a winable game. I was not ready for it. The kids who hurt the most are the ones who work the hardest.”
Crystal City’s game-winning score happened on the opening drive of the second half when the Javelinas (8-3, 4-1 District 14-4A Division II) ate eight minutes off the clock in the third quarter. Sophomore running back David Patino caught a 12-yard screen pass from senior quarterback Sebastian Mendoza on fourth-and-goal for a touchdown to make it 22-18.
Later, with three minutes left in the contest, Crystal City had possession of the ball and converted on third-and-10 with a 32-yard Mendoza pass to junior receiver Jordan Gallegos and again on third-and-eight with a 13-yard run by junior running back Austin Sanchez to run out the clock.
“Gutsy call and gutsy throw,” Slaughter said.
The first half was highlighted by explosive plays, deception, and power football as the two teams kept answering the other.
The Javelinas stopped the Yellow Jackets from scoring on the Crystal City one-yard line during the opening drive of the contest and then scored on a quick 99-yard drive for the game’s first points when Mendoza found junior receiver Felix Blanco for a 47-yard touchdown reception. The drive took three plays to complete, starting with a 57-yard run by Sanchez from the one-yard line. The two-point run was good for an 8-0 lead.
Llano answered on the ensuing drive when junior quarterback Ben Walling found junior receiver Anthony Watson on a 22-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone. The two-point conversion was no good, and the Jackets trailed 8-6 in the first quarter.
After the Llano defense forced a punt, the Jackets put more points on the board. This time, junior running back Mason Greenwood pushed his way to the end zone on a one-yard run. The two-point try was no good, but Llano led 12-8.
Crystal City got back on the board thanks to a 65-yard punt return by Patino. The two-point run was good, giving the Javelinas a 16-12 advantage late in the first quarter.
Llano regained the lead on its final drive of the half thanks to a four-yard run by Walling. The two-point run failed, but the Jackets led 18-16 going into halftime.
Senior Jaden Napolez commended the Javelinas on the win.
“It stinks for us, but good for them,” he said. “They made plays. They deserve it.”
Senior running back Brent Greenwood said one of his best memories at Llano is playing alongside his brother, Mason, for three years.
“It’s been a blast,” he said.