STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
LLANO — Though the playoffs don’t officially start until Nov. 16, Llano High School head football coach Matt Green has told his players the postseason begins Friday.
The Yellow Jackets (3-5, 0-2 District 13-4A Division II) travel to Hondo (2-5, 1-0) on Oct. 27. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Barry Field, 2603 Ave. H.
Green’s urgency is because Llano is 0-2 in district after playing the top two squads: 45-7 to Wimberley on Oct. 20 and 21-7 to Navarro on Oct. 13.
“You absolutely approach this (contest against Hondo) as a playoff game,” he said. “Your season isn’t over if you don’t win, but we have a one-game season against Hondo. They’ll come out and play well. They play hard.”
The Owls try to establish the run first and will line up in the power-I led by senior running back Jordan Gomez, who has 134 carries for 651 yards and two touchdowns. Hondo wants to run isolation plays to get defensive players out of position.
“Gomez likes to get downhill,” Green said.
The Owls also line up in the veer, and junior quarterback Cole Frazier will read the defensive ends before deciding whether to hand the ball to the fullback or pull it. If he pulls it, he’ll run the option with running backs.
Frazier has 62 carries for 351 yards and five touchdowns and has completed 20 of 54 passes for 320 yards and five interceptions.
Defensively, the Owls use their speed to chase down ball carriers, so a commitment to blocking the backside will be important for success, Green said. The leading tackler is junior linebacker Will Gardenhire with 56.
“They’re very certain of what they’re doing upfront,” he said. “Teams have trouble moving the ball consistently. They give up the big play every once in awhile, but you’re not going to trick them and out-scheme them.”
The weather is supposed to be windy and cool, so controlling the line of scrimmage will be crucial, Green said.
Green said the biggest opponent so far has been injuries. The Jackets are the only Highland Lakes team that hasn’t had a bye. They’ll get it in Week 11 on Nov. 10, but they must first play two more games.
For Llano, senior Ben Walling went back to quarterback because junior Cade Fly hasn’t been available. Walling had played running back before that. Senior running back Mason Greenwood also has been sidelined with an injury.
“We have been thin and banged up,” Green said. “We’ve been trying to get healthy and well. We have enough scheme that we can attack them.”
The good news is the Llano offensive line has played well, which has allowed junior running back Mason Brooks and senior running back Ian Fletcher to get positive yards.
Wimberley made big plays and prevented the Jackets from finding enough offensive consistency.
“They have the ability to throw the ball and they execute well and can run the ball,” Green said. “They were physical upfront. They’re a tough matchup for anybody.”