STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
That’s when the players will be at the athletic office at the high school, 2509 Texas 16 South in Llano, receiving their equipment and locker assignments. Then, they’ll take the practice field at about 4:30 p.m. for the start of training camp.
Though this is head coach Matt Green’s first year leading Llano, he is familiar with the program and many of the players thanks to having a stepson who played for Llano last year. He is looking forward to getting to know the athletes as individuals, which includes their interests, hobbies, and motivations.
Green said there will be open competitions for every starting position. He called that a great benefit to reserves who want to start and noted starters will have to work hard to keep their jobs.
Two projected starters are senior linemen Ray Dixon, who committed to Houston Baptist University a few days ago, and Daniel Sparks, a transfer from Marble Falls High School. The coach said the two have become friends and still enjoy competing against one another in a friendly way. Green said he can’t recall a time, except maybe when he was at Lake Travis High School, where he’s had two linemen who are so talented and have such a committed work ethic.
“They have the potential to be dominating,” he said. “It’s exciting for us as a staff. They have responded to each other. They see the value they bring. That competition ‘I’m going to be the best player,’ it’s neat.”
He added that the temptation from a coaching standpoint is to match the two up because they simply make each other better. But it’s a temptation the staff is fighting, he added.
Green coached Sparks at Marble Falls, where he was the athletic director and head football the past three years, but he is getting to know Dixon better.
“Ray is a worker and leader,” Green said. “It matters to him. He’s a hard worker. He’s dedicated.”
While Green would like to install as much of the offensive playbook as he can, he noted there’s a balance that must be respected.
“The thing you have to be cautious of is overloading kids with too much,” he said. “That has nothing to do with intelligence. I’m pleased with their knowledge of the game and their overall intelligence. But we want to make sure we go on a comfortable pace. We want to go at a pace that’s realistic and put in the best plays and foundational plays for our kids.”
As for the other players, the coach said he wants to see effort, determination, and a willingness to improve.
“I want to see our kids come out and play hard,” he said. “I want to see them learn our schemes and execute stuff.”
He also wants to see the older players “lead and play to their potential” and the underclassmen “come out and respond to senior leadership.”
“If they can do those things, we’ll have a chance to be pretty good,” he said.
The Jackets welcome Smithville at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, to Llano Stadium, 400 Texas 71 East in Llano.