STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
LLANO — The Llano High School football team hasn’t been able to enjoy a home win yet in 2017, but the Yellow Jackets hope to change that on homecoming Oct. 6.
The Jackets (2-3, 0-0 in District 13-4A Division II) want to give their fans a lot to cheer for when they welcome Austin’s Eastside Memorial (0-3, 0-0 District 14-4A Division I) to Llano Stadium, 400 Texas 71 East in Llano. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
“We need to get that monkey off our back,” said Llano head coach Matt Green about the Yellow Jackets two home losses to start the season. Smithville defeated Llano 35-21 on Sept. 1. Llano lost 42-28 to Sonora on Sept. 8. “We want to play well at home. I expect us to come out with confidence and, hopefully, play well for the home crowd.”
Green said the Panthers of Eastside Memorial are an improved team from last season, noting the roster has doubled in the past 12 months. More players mean more competition for starting spots and better depth.
“They’re fast, they have a lot of speed,” he said.
While Eastside Memorial opened the season with a 62-0 loss to Marion, the Panthers played Austin Lanier closer in a 22-8 loss. Austin Travis shut them out 27-0 on Sept. 22.
“They played Lanier tough and played Travis tough,” Green said. “They have been competitive in both games.”
Eastside Memorial has a run-based offense that resembles a single-wing look though the quarterback stands in the shotgun.
“They do stuff you don’t see often,” Green said. “They utilize two formations but do ten or twelve things in each. They get the ball to a variety of backs.”
Defensively, Eastside Memorial sets up in a 3-4 look to pressure the quarterback from multiple angles and force a turnover or get a sack.
Llano enters the game after losing 31-21 to Burnet on the road on Sept. 29 to snap a two-game road game win streak. The Jackets beat Brady 45-0 on Sept. 15 and Lago Vista 51-15 on Sept. 22.
Against Burnet, Llano trailed 7-0 after Bulldogs senior receiver Sterling Galban caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Chandler Galban, his brother, with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Offensively, Llano had two turnovers, penalties, and dropped passes that ended drives in the early part of the game.
“It’s unfortunate,” Green said. “We had opportunities in the first half to be ahead.”
The second half began with an 85-yard touchdown for Burnet when Galban returned the opening kickoff for a 14-0 lead.
Llano sophomore quarterback Cade Fly answered on the next drive with a 6-yard touchdown to trim the deficit to 14-7, but the Jackets wouldn’t get any closer.
Fly also found junior receiver Brooks Keele on a 17-yard touchdown, and junior running back Ben Walling added a touchdown run.
“Burnet was a good football team,” Green said. “Our kids learned a lot from it. They learned you can’t turn the ball over three times and expect to win. You can’t give a good team a half. I do credit our kids for fighting back. We were right there the whole night.”