STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The Jackets (2-2, 0-0 District 13-4A Division II) face the Bulldogs (3-1, 0-0 District 13-4A Division I) on Friday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Field, 1000 The Green Mile. Listen to the game on KMPN 95.9 FM or at KBEYFM.com starting with a 7 p.m. pregame show.
“It seems like I say it every week, that this is the best team we’ve faced at that school in a long time,” Jones said about Llano. “That’s a good Jacket team. It’s a very good Jacket squad coming here.”
Since it’s Burnet’s homecoming, the 2017 court will be announced at 7 p.m. with the new king and queen being crowned before kickoff.
Burnet is currently riding a 14-game winning streak over Llano. The last time the Jackets defeated the Bulldogs was in 1998. But Llano is on a two-game winning streak with both victories coming on the road: Lago Vista (51-15) and Brady (45-0).
Llano is led by sophomore quarterback Cade Fly, who has completed 57 of 104 passes for 924 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Junior Mason Brooks has 26 carries for 218 yards and two touchdowns, and senior receiver Aaron Watson has caught 14 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns.
What caught Jones’s eye is Llano’s ability to move the football in a variety of ways, making them difficult to defend. He noted the offensive line has pass protected and run blocked well with the effort led by senior linemen Ray Dixon and Daniel Sparks.
“They have backs that can run big and wide receivers who can get the ball,” Jones said. “They’re capable of running it in a number of ways. We’re going to have to be rock solid on defense.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs rely on senior nose guard Seth Carpenter, who is known to cause havoc because of his strength to fight off blocks and disrupt quarterbacks. In addition, the Burnet linebackers and secondary have enough speed to chase down ball carriers and force punts.
When it comes to Burnet’s spread offense, defenses must find senior receiver Sterling Galban, a Texas Tech University commit, who has 25 catches for 221 yards, and senior running back Ian Carter, who has 70 rushes for 554 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Chandler Galban, Sterling’s younger brother, has completed 55 of 85 passes for 571 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions.
Llano head coach Matt Green said what makes Sterling Galban a threat is his quickness.
“He’s very dangerous in space,” he said. “He has a very good connection with his brother, and they really lean on Carter. He’s fast. He’s powerful. He has good moves and top-end speed.”
Jones said the Bulldogs must account for Llano defensive linemen Dixon and Sparks.
“They come off the ball to knock you backwards,” he said. “Their linebackers are physical and athletic. The secondary can go get the ball.
Green believes the team that controls the line of scrimmage will be victorious.
“If our defensive line can put pressure on the quarterback, it’ll complicate things,” he said. “They’re trying to run the ball and relieve pressure off of him. We have to be smart about being overly aggressive.”
One aspect worth noting is the Bulldogs have 22 one-way starters, something the program is committed to doing because it helps with fatigue, Jones said.
“We think it can be an advantage,” he said. “If you have 22 starters, you can play with fresh legs. It helps you a lot more, especially in the third and fourth quarters.”
Until Lago Vista scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter during the game Sept. 22, the Jackets had scored 83 unanswered points dating back to Sonora, their Week 2 opponent.
“It was a big win for us,” Green said. “We needed that win. I really felt like our kids practiced well all week. I wanted to see us start well.”
The Lago Vista game became lopsided on two plays in the first half. The first was a fake punt by Llano near midfield that went for 32 yards en route to a touchdown.
“Being a head coach for six years, you know when the time is right (for a trick play),” Green said. “I knew it was the right time, and we had the look we wanted. The kids executed it perfectly.”
The other big play occurred right before halftime. Llano wanted to score at least a field goal before intermission. Fly dropped back to look for an open receiver, but one receiver ran the wrong route. Instead of forcing a pass, Fly decided to tuck the ball and run with it for 14 yards.
Fly finished the game by completing 13 of 21 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns.
“He is really making good decisions,” Green said. “He’s checked us into plays. He’s progressing and doing well. He’s strong and fast, and he’s starting to learn how to read the defense.”
Another scoring drive covered 99 yards in 16 plays, which impressed Green.
Senior running back Mason Greenwood had 11 rushes for 95 yards and a touchdown and three catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while junior running back Mason Brooks had nine carries for 68 yards and a score.