3A football Quarterfinals information-Edna vs Llano
By Michael Brooks
With the win over Blanco last week, Edna advanced to the fourth round of the playoffs for the sixth time in school history, the most recent time being 2018.
When any team advances to the fourth round, all eight teams still playing are elite, but with Edna matching up against Llano, they will be facing a team that is a mirror image of themselves.
Edna (12-1) and Llano (13-0)
These teams are about as evenly matched as you can get statistically. Edna has scored 515 points, while Llano has scored 504. Defensively, Edna has allowed 136 and Llano 128.
They have four common opponents in Industrial, Goliad, Randolph, and Blanco. Both teams won all four games with Edna defeating Industrial 46-0 and Llano won 42-17. Edna defeated Goliad 21-7 and Llano won 21-0. Edna beat Randolph 16-7 and Llano won 21-14, and Edna beat Blanco 36-22 and Llano won 17-6.
“I know Llano is a senior ball club and they have a lot of experience,” Edna Head Coach Jimmie Mitchell said. “Their quarterback is a good football player, their running back is good, their receivers are good and their defense flies to the football. So yeah, they’re a good team. We are going to have to play well.”
Running the offense for Llano is quarterback Briggs Green. Green has thrown for 2,260 yards and 30 touchdowns, against only five interceptions.
On the ground, Llano has amassed 3,656 rushing yards. Leading the way is Carson Kuykendall. Kuykendall has gained 1,773 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns. Running back Miguel Hernandez also brings 1,005 yards rushing.
The number one receiving threat is Jackson Dillard who has 882 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns. Ross Prokop is the second option with 579 yards.
The Edna offense stacks up well against Llano with the arm of Jaiden Clay and a stand-out receiving corp. Edna also has the speed and power out of the backfield, and a strong offensive line protecting the backfield.
“We have a great coaching staff,” offensive lineman Dylan Buehring said. “This week, we have to study film, come out here (to practice) and bust our butts. The line has had a couple of rocky games, but overall I feel like we have done a good job. We are trying to make it to State, but we have to go game-by-game."
On paper, both defenses are spectacular. Mitchell is counting on the team being as stout as ever, despite missing a few key pieces.
“We’ve got a few injuries,” Mitchell said. “Losing Jaykub Reyes was a big blow and our center will still be out, but our back-ups did well last week. Campton Hicks, our safety, is going to be a game-time decision. We have a lot of kids who aren’t playing right now that probably need to be, but the team is not just one or two kids, it’s the whole group. We’ve been having to overcome adversity all year, so hopefully we will be able to do it again this week.”
On defense for Llano, Fitz Kennedy leads the way with nine sacks. As a team, Llano has 37.5 sacks for the season and 89 tackles for a loss.
“We have to play physical up front,” defensive lineman Chris Robinson said. “That is the biggest part of the game. We’re big and they’re big. We have to do our thing. Play our gap, our responsibility.”
Making accurate passes will be key for Clay, as Llano has pulled in 27 interceptions this year.
Mitchell explained Llano is great at pressuring the quarterback and, as a result, there have been a lot rushed passes that have been picked off.
So, what do the Cowboys have to do to win?
“We have to cut down on the penalties,” Mitchell explained. “The penalties will kill us and the turnovers will kill us. The last two weeks we’ve won the game but it has been sloppy because of those things. We’ve had four touchdowns in those last two games called back because of penalties, and we fumbled once on the one yard line. So, if we can do that, I think we will have a good chance to win the football game.”
Playoff games can oftentimes come down to a field goal and Cowboy kicker Harrison Smiga said his leg is up to the task.
“I’m feeling good,” Smiga said “I feel like if I’m needed, I can do it. I know I can trust my blockers to get things done and I trust my holder.”
Smiga said the hardest part about kicking is trying not to think when he is getting ready to kick.
Edna will have a send off on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. beginning at the high school and running through Edna as they head to San Marcos.
Edna has advanced to the State Semi-Finals four times with the most recent being in 2014. Llano has advanced to the State Semi-Finals once, in 2020.
Things won’t get any easier when the winner of this game moves on to the State-Semi Finals. Next up will be the winner of Frankin and Columbus.
Franklin (13-0) and Columbus (12-1)
Franklin has scored 613 points and allowed 260. Columbus has scored 543 points and allowed 156.
Franklin played an extremely tough schedule and came out unscathed. They defeated two very good teams in their pre-district schedule and then took down Lorena, Cameron Yoe, and Little River Academy academy before taking down Hallettsville and destroying a very good Hitchcock team in the playoffs.
Franklin has the experience too, as last year they went a perfect 16-0 en route to a State Championship.
Columbus played a much easier pre-district but also had a gauntlet to run through in district and the playoffs. Their lone loss was a five point defeat at the hands of Hitchcock...the same team Franklin defeated 53-18.
Whitesboro (11-1) and Brock (9-4)
Brock has scored 515 points and allowed 260. Whitesboro has scored 558 and allowed 225.
Brock lost the first four games of the season. Two loses came to teams that went two and three rounds deep in the playoffs, and the other two came to teams who remain undefeated. Since then, Brock has ran through opponents, including a four point victory over Whitesboro.
Last year Whitesboro fell to Brock in this same round, while Brock went on to lose the State Championship game.
Malakoff (12-1) and Grandview (11-2)
Malakoff has scored 600 points and allowed 127. Grandview has scored 616 points and allowed 154.
For the last two years, Malakoff has lost in the third round of the playoffs. Grandview has fallen in the Area playoff round the last two years, but played for a state title in 2019.
The winner of this game will play the winner of Brock and Whitesboro in the other State Semi-Final game.