STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
LLANO — The Llano High School football team will put its three-game winning streak against Hondo on the line when the Yellow Jackets host the Owls in the 2018 season opener.
The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31, at Llano Stadium, 400 Texas 71 East.
During the teams’ three previous contests, Llano has outscored Hondo 110-65 and won last year 30-24.
Hondo will line up in the Power-I, led by quarterback Cole Frazier, with the intention of running the football. Frazier was the second-leading rusher on the team last season with 872 yards and nine touchdowns. He passed for 678 yards and two touchdowns.
Look for the Owls to be anchored by lineman Carson Oefinger and line up in two-tight end sets.
“It’s a true triple option,” Llano head football coach Matt Green said.
The strength of the Hondo team is in its front seven.
“They’re big, fast, and physical,” Green added.
The defense is led by middle linebacker Will Gardenhire, who had 127 tackles, six sacks, and two interceptions in 2017, and sophomore outside linebacker Trey Dickens, who had 106 tackles and three sacks last year. They are joined by defensive lineman Carlos Lewis and Oefinger.
They’ll have four down linemen and three linebackers. Green noted three of the defensive linemen are returning starters as are Gardenhire, who stands 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 200 pounds, and Dickens, who is 6-1 and 195 pounds.
“That’s a huge deal for a defense,” Green said. ”They’re big linebackers who can play at any level in high school.”
Llano will counter with its trio of seniors: quarterback Cade Fly, running back Mason Brooks, and receiver Brooks Keele.
Fly threw for more than 1,700 yards and connected for 16 touchdowns last season while rushing for another 350 yards and nine touchdowns. Brooks ran for 681 yards and accounted for 35 percent of the team’s carries. Keele scored eight touchdowns and had close to 500 yards receiving.
The Jackets enter the regular season with some momentum after crushing Manor New Tech in a scrimmage Aug. 23. Llano scored two touchdowns in the controlled portion and four in the live portion, which is more like a quarter for a regular game.
Green noted New Tech is a new program with some juniors and seniors.
“They’re very tall and big and fast,” he said. “They had youth and inexperience. We were pretty dominant. They had size and weight and speed.”