Llano coach rises above competition
October 23, 2012, 3:00 pm by Mark Goodson
By Mark Goodson
LCJ Sports Editor
Craig Slaughter’s energy level is unmatched.
On Friday night, the Llano head coach left the ground in a show of excitement that epitomizes how he coaches.
It wasn’t an official vertical jump, but it was invigorating.
Slaughter could have cleared any hurdle after he watched defensive end Zach Morgan sack Lampasas quarterback Kleg Kennedy for a loss on a fourth-and-goal play to secure a 20-13 victory over the Badgers on the road.
"Zach is a player that sells out on every play,’’ Slaughter said. "He’s a tough kid that is relentless. He’s a guy opponents don’t want to go against.’’
Slaughter’s Yellow Jackets put themselves in the thick of the District 8-3A race with their win over Lampasas.
The Yellow Jackets gained some huge momentum after pulling out the win to push their record to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in district.
This week, Llano catches the undefeated Gatesville Hornets in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Llano. The ramifications are huge. Three teams get in the playoffs in Class 3A and Friday’s winner sits in good shape.
"Last week, was the biggest game we’ve had since we’ve been here and now this week is just that much bigger,’’ Slaughter said. "Winning last week puts us in position to reach some of our goals. Gatesville is a great team with no weakness and they have a lot of those same goals we have.’’
Llano has been in every game it’s teed the ball up this season, excluding a big loss to Liberty Hill.
Three of the four losses are by a combined 17 points.
Slaughter didn’t sleep much last Friday night.
"Six o’clock came early,’’ Slaughter said. "It felt like I had just put my head down. but I’ll take that no sleep again this week.’’
Slaughter said this year’s Yellow Jackets team have shown him a lot.
"I think the kids enjoy playing for us,’’ Slaughter said. "My coaches work hard and everybody plays hard…My wife and I don’t talk much football, but she likes to say, ‘this is a bunch that’s not hard to root for’’’
Llano was 1-9 last year before Slaughter came on board from Sweetwater.
Now, Llano is rolling with emotion and hard-nosed football.
The Yellow Jackets play in one of the toughest districts in the state. They also are the smallest school in enrollment in the 3A district. Llano has 503 students in high school and suit up 34 players on varsity.
Every other school in the district has at least 300 more students than the Yellow Jackets.
The Jackets have relied on a balanced attack and several players that can play on both sides of the ball.
Senior Rhett Brooks has been a touchdown maker, providing plays in the running game and passing game. Quarterback Layton Rabb, a sophomore, has matured in the Llano attack and spreads the ball around to the likes of Deven Mayne, Wil Siegenthaler, Matt Center, Sawyer Stiles and Isaac Hutto.
On Friday, the Yellow Jackets get a chance to show that emotion goes a long way on the football field.
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