Nov 28 2015
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It was a package deal, and the big-play bundle was bountiful for Llano, which whipped Hondo, 32-20, October 30, and clinched an invitation to the postseason assembly.
The win helped dim the memory of some tough losses, and, with unbeaten Navarro ready to host the Jackets in the regular-season closer, a victory was mandatory to assure Game 11.
“The defense was consistent,” said head coach Craig Slaughter. “Our rock,” he called it, “was so good.” Indeed. The men under defensive coordinator Clint Easley held the Owls to a “balanced” attack which added up to just 219 yards total offense—351 for Llano.
Close to the midway point of the opening quarter, Hondo drove to the Jackets 23 but was forced to settle for a field goal miss.
Two and a half minutes later, Ben Walling threw into the right flat, and Mason Greenwood was more alone than a costume-shop salesman, November 1. It was a 74-yard scoring play. “We knew the linebacker matchups,” said offensive coordinator Jarrett Vickers, “and Jaden Napolez over the middle took the LBs away from Mason.”
“All week long we worked on the play,” added Walling, the southpaw sophomore who was 7-for-12 for 154 yards.
One stop later by the defense led to a tidy, 15-yard punt return by Cody Miller, a senior who was super special as part of Senior Night.
Walling went down the heart of the synthetic turf gridiron for Airon Layton. “He had it,” Layton told me concerning the defensive back, “but I took it back,” for a 48-yard touchdown. “That’s the athletic player he is,” Walling said of the Army man who’s already completed boot camp.
“Ben was able to stay in the pocket,” noted offensive line coach Bobby Williams. He was (understandably) quite proud of the OL.
12-0, 10:08 remaining in the half.
Safety Brent Greenwood came up with a sack of Hondo quarterback Garrett Van Damme, and he broke up a pass on third-and-15. Llano, though, relinquished the ball on a fumble, and the Owls scored to cut the deficit to 12-7 at intermission. Nothing’s easy.
24 minutes remained for the Jackets to protect the narrow advantage and prolong the season.
They did it in style, playing possibly their best half of the 2015 campaign in, without question, the most important third and fourth quarters—it was their finest (half) hour.
Quick stat: Hondo gained about 10 yards after intermission until the game was as locked up as a room on Storage Wars. Easley’s list to take a bow included: “Wyatt Bauman, Hunter Roemer, Blake Dillard, Ian Fletcher, Cameron Hall, Brent Greenwood, John Heflin, Miller, and Layton.”
Also, early in the third, with the Jackets still up by just five, Dillard caused a major fumble near midfield, and Roberto Alcala made the recovery.
Walling, with a lot more to come on the ground, ran for 14 yards to the Owls’ 38. Brent Greenwood then authored a burst of 31, and brother Mason collected the last lucky seven. Ben to Napolez for a two-point conversion and a 20-7 lead with 6:26 left in the third quarter.
You’ve probably noticed Mason getting yards after apparently being stopped. “The mentality is to keep going,” he told me.
Heflin, from his safety position, bulldozed Van Damme for a seven-yard loss late in the third. “Coming down to a win we needed,” declared Easley, “we were getting it done.”
Miller never got it done better than he did by catching a punt inside the 10. Sometimes a no-no. A fair catch is foul to Cody. “Too pumped-up to call a fair catch,” he related. Miller went right, and, “After I put a move on {the man about to nail him}, the blockers did their job.” It was a superb advance of 31 yards to the 39, as the third quarter drifted into history.
“Jose Arredondo, Colton Center, Luke Snitkin, Ray Dixon,” and the Camerons: “Hall and Brumley,” received postgame appreciation from Bobby Williams.
And they all helped Walling puncture Hondo for a 51-yard rush to the six. “The defensive end shot inside; there was a huge hole; the blocking was great.” 89 yards on eight carries, as Ben made folks greedy to see his next two years.
Mason scored from the one for his third TD of the night. He had 68 yards rushing and has 896 for the season.
26-7. 11-14 to a jubilant Senior Walk.
Hondo scored with 7-56 to play. One bit of business was on the date book, and I want to introduce Dalton Dewveall.
Fred Astaire’s foot was never more poetic than the Owls’ onside kick. It took that miserable—if you’re rooting for the receiving team—high bounce to the left. “I saw the ball spinning,” Dewveall explained, “and I got ready for it. I didn’t want to rush it. I waited for it and got it.”
“Sunk their ship,” Slaughter observed.
Mason Greenwood ran for 16 and seven yards, and Walling raced in from the 14.
Before the somewhat misleading 32-20 final, Josh Soliz blocked a Hondo punt.
In the playoffs, it’s either Crystal City, Pearsall, or Devine.
Right now, though, time to enjoy the Gatorade bath Slaughter received at midfield. “Signifies we’ve accomplished something. It was a fun deal.
“We had confidence we could be successful.”