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20 • April 17, 2013

The Llano News

Not such a Sweet Ending

Shawn Sweeten’s job before coming to Llano for seven years was in Marble Falls in 2005.

By Art Dlugach Shawn Sweeten is leaving Llano High to become head volleyball coach at New Caney, which is Class 4A and about 45 miles northeast of Houston. Her departure has not led to a nasty split in the athletic hallway, nor has there been any nasty language. The disagreement, though, between parties, has created tension on both sides. The timeline is this: Daryl

Friedrich decided he wanted to leave the post of head girls’ basketball coach and go to the junior high. Request granted. Athletic director Craig Slaughter decided the replacement for Friedrich would also get Sweeten’s title as girls’ athletic coordinator. There would be no change in her volleyball job. Losing the coordinator position, “was a great big shock,” Sweeten told me. “Nothing warranted the action;

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there was no discussion, no meeting,” for Slaughter to explain why he had made this move. Slaughter: “We need to teach basketball more than three months of the year. I’m not trying to destroy volleyball; I want both sports to have an equal chance of success. “Coach Sweeten has done a great job, and I wish her the best.” Slaughter’s problem (at least one of them) involved the weight room, which was used by the volleyball team two days a week during the athletic period. “If there are basketball girls on the volleyball squad,” insisted the athletic director, “I want them practicing basketball skills those two days. They’re not practicing volleyball anyway during those 40-minute periods.” If I had an office, there would not be a sign on it saying, “Art Dlugach, Investigative Reporter.” I did not run back to coach Sweeten for her rebuttal, which would have to be followed by Slaughter’s response to that. Then final arguments. If that’s a fault, I plead guilty. And, there’s this… Coach Sweeten had another reason for leaving and for choosing New Caney. “My husband was transferred from Louisiana to Galveston.” He’s a pilot for Bristow Helicopters. He flies crew and equipment to oil rigs in the Gulf. The Scorebook Sweeten, a UT-Arlington AllAmerican in volleyball in the late 1980s, arrived in Llano in 2006. She led the Lady Jackets to the playoffs in ’08. They

didn’t win that postseason but did beat West in ’09 for the school’s first-ever playoff victory in this sport. They got another bi-district win last fall. Goodbye thoughts “I have known some fantastic girls at Llano,” Sweeten declared. “I created a lot of positive relationships. “New Caney has had many

By Art Dlugach It is not a stunning a n n o u n c e m e n t — w h a t ’s unbelievable anymore?—but it is a surprise. Varsity baseball head coach Mike Ridings will not return for a second season. The Llano News has learned that Ridings has turned in his resignation and that he told the team, April 15, that he won’t be coming back. It appears one reason for his decision is his wife, Karla, is a counselor at Madison High in San Antonio, so their separation has not been easy. Give Karla credit. She makes a number of games despite the lengthy roundtrip, and half the games are on Tuesday night. The coach’s plans are not known. The Jackets were 8-17 overall and 2-5 in district as of the morning of April 16. The positive news is the squad is only losing three seniors and

coaches the last five or six years. They’re looking for someone to stay there for awhile. It’s a huge confidence boost that they’ve recognized my success.” Maybe you didn’t know… The New Caney baseball field is named after Chicago White Sox slugger Adam Dunn, who went to high

school there in the mid-1990s. He spent a brief time at Texas considering getting a chance at quarterback—408 major league home runs later tells us leaving the gridiron was a good idea. And, finally, does coach Sweeten ever join her husband in his helicopter? “Oh, gosh, no!”

Mike’s Ride is a Brief One

Besides his baseball job, Mike Ridings was an assistant football coach for the Jackets. He played on the offensive line at the University of Memphis (known as Memphis State then), 1972-75.

should be much improved in 2014. Ridings has been coaching for close to 40 years, and he

has been an excellent representative of Llano High through his demeanor and knowledge of the game.


The Llano News

The Time of their Lives!

FEARSOME FOURSOME—L-R: Matthew Center, Justin Wyatt, Layton Rabb, and Blake Schulze teamed to win a brilliant 4x400 on the Badger track.

By Art Dlugach LAMPASAS—It was three and a half minutes of great theater, and the final dialogue had Llano High registering one of the most exciting triumphs in its more than a century of athletics. The 4x400-meter relay— Track & Field’s signature event and last chapter in the April 11 district 8-AAA Meet—hosted the high drama, and four Jackets played starring roles. Blake Schulze was first out

of the blocks against five foes. “I tried to step up for my team,” Schulze said. He was running because of a change involving another student’s school violation. “Blake’s job was to keep his teammates in striking distance,” declared head coach Jarrett Vickers. He was last after 400 meters, but the deficit was manageable for a squad which has won 15 of 18 relay races in 2013. Layton Rabb grabbed the baton from Schulze. His 6’5"

frame carries the Rabb legacy—of more than 90 years—in football, basketball, and in track. He might have told the legacy, “You’re welcome to hop on, but this ride’s going to be fast.” Layton praised Schulze’s effort, but acknowledged, “I had to pick up the slack.” And he caught more men than Bat Masterson did. Running a sub50-second quarter mile, Rabb told me: “I didn’t want to let the seniors down—Matthew Center and Justin Wyatt. I

tried to catch the dude in front of me, and I kept on catching them.” When he passed the baton at the halfway point to Wyatt, Gatesville’s lead was only a few strides over the Jackets. How appropriate: passing to Justin. Layton had thrown the speedster a 67-yard touchdown aerial in Taylor in October 2011 in the quarterback’s first start. Wyatt would transfer to a private school in the Metroplex for this school year but returned to Llano High before football was done. It was done for him, however, and baseball didn’t work out, either—but, oh my, are his legs made for track! His body and gallop look like they could be in a Gatorade commercial. In a photo, the synchronicity, the leg alignment, and attack are sports artistry. “I just stayed with him,” said Justin of the Hornet in first place, and he admitted how this ultimate district contest was so important to him in relation to what has occurred in his life in the last nine months. “He ran a 51-4,” reported Vickers. “That’s his personal best for the year,” and he did it in a moment of time for LHS, in a race for the ages. Wyatt’s successful venture was done, as he handed off to

April 17, 2013 • 21 Center. 400 meters to go. Jake Kee, the Gatesville running back who had helped his 8AAA championship squad wreck Center and Llano, 417 in October, was about five meters in front. Is Center the man you want for this challenge? Would you like Ben Hogan with a club in his hand for target golf? Joe Louis facing Max Schmeling in a rematch? Jackie Robinson playing for Brooklyn in 1947? “I had to go fast for my first 150 meters,” related Matthew, to get under 50 seconds for the 400. “I wasn’t running against a team; I was running against myself for my best time.” “If Matt has the lead with 200 meters to go,” Vickers advised, “I’ll take him all day long.” The coach, along with athletic director Craig Slaughter, have so much adrenaline, you feel they probably high-five the paper boy after a so-so toss. You would have thought 50,000 people were in the small stands at the on-campus Lampasas football stadium when Center made his move on Kee. The earth may not have stood still, but Kee might as well have been posing for Rodin. With roars befitting an Olympics, near the 100-150-

meter mark, Matthew’s burst resembled Seabiscuit eliminating the threat from War Admiral. The Jackets had their first advantage. There would be no more lead changes. “Getting after it in the heat of competition, having to chase people,” noted Vickers, “was awesome.” Surprisingly, Jake Kee stayed somewhat close to Matthew, but as I absorbed it all several feet from the gallant Thoroughbreds, who by now in our narrative are approaching the wire, I knew that Llano High, with its myriad of setbacks in the sports arena in recent years, would receive the last hurrah. Center, like Rabb, got his sub-50, and the quartet in Black and Orange ran a spectacular, gold-medal clocking of three minutes, 27.60 seconds—easily its mile-relay best for the year, probably one of the finest runs in school history. “There was no doubt we could catch ‘em,” gasped an exhausted Matt in the makeshift victory circle. “I ran as hard as I could. “You couldn’t ask for a better team.” “They ran their tails off,” praised Vickers. “This is one of my all-time highs.” Llano’s, too, coach.

More District Track

‘Hey, We did Okay, too’ By Art Dlugach LAMPASAS—Isaac Hutto, with his right arm, and Carter Tatsch, with this legs, were golden boys for Llano in the district 8-AAA Track & Field Meet, April 10-11. They advance to the Area round in Stephenville, April 18. Also progressing in the postseason process are two boys’ relay teams (plus the 4x400, chronicled nearby), the girls’ 4x200 foursome, and Cierra Jordan in the shot put and discus. Sir Isaac Hutto delivered a sound whipping of his foes, and he credited one sound with an assist for his superb heave of 145 feet, four inches. “I grunt when I throw,” he told me, fortunately not during lunch. “It makes me throw better, and my friends (watching) grunted, too,” while he threw.

Sorry, it was the best story angle I could come up with. “I will shoot for 150 feet at Area,” Isaac added. I asked coach Clint Easley why he’s so talented. “His wing span and his height (6’4"),” he replied. “He’s strong, not just a bean pole. That’s why he’s good in all sports.” Carter Some of Carter Tatsch’s classmates think he looks like Justin Bieber. I’ll bet Justin’s foot speed doesn’t look like Carter’s. “He ran an awesome race,” said boys’ head track coach, Jarrett Vickers. CT’s time was 22.94 seconds for 200 meters, and that earned him a gold medal. Relays The Jacket boys suffered a rare setback in the 4x100meters, finishing third. That

still was good enough for their season to continue. “I was frustrated after the 4x1,” declared Layton Rabb, and, “that pumped me up (for the next two).” Rabb “ran with a vengeance in the 4x200 and 4x400.” Tatsch, Matthew Center, Justin Wyatt, and Layton turned in an excellent clocking of one minute, 30.34 seconds in the 4x2 to put polish on another gold medal. Last chance When Cierra Jordan stepped into the discus ring for her third throw of the finals, she knew it could be the last time she’d ever see a disc in a competitive moment. “I was scared and nervous,” CJ told me. She should have been. Cierra needed to hurl See MORE TRACK, page 22.

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22 • April 17, 2013

Scalpel Can’t Stop this Tiger asked athletic director, Craig Slaughter, if he had heard how Tiger was doing. He told me, “She must be fine; she’s coming to the meet!” He must have been hallucinating! She shows up at the stadium entry gate looking like she had had lunch at Cooper’s and shopped at Bealls. The family was smiling. I guess so. The girl walking sure beat bronze in the 400. “She got a 12-hour block,” said her mother, Angela. That means a pain killer you can’t find at H-E-B, and when it wears off, don’t be doing a Harlem Shake. Tiger said, “I feel fine.” She looked fine, but she was carrying a pillow. I winced at that, thinking it resembled what ancient warriors would

Tiger left her family and walked (slowly) across the football stadium on the Badger campus. She was strolling toward her teammates. Greetings and hugs followed. Besides “What in the world are you doing here?” there wasn’t much to say. What did she have? Surgery Tiger (R) gets a welcome-back and a to-go cup of coffee? embrace from Taylor Durham. carry (shields, right?) to protect themselves in battle. I guess everyone who leaves the operating room the same day gets a pillow if they feel like a quick nap.

Slaughter, fully alert himself by this point, said, “Tiger’s too tough for her own good.” Basketball’s Aidan Callahan told her, “You’re a trooper; girls are tougher than guys.”

After a round of jokes advising her to get her track uniform on, I asked if she were going to school on Friday? “No,” was her response. That was the first sane remark of the day. Won’t that be an original note to the teacher? “Please excuse Tiger from class. “She had her appendix removed 24 hours ago.” Regards, Dr. Thomas. So, the next time a football player scores a touchdown with 101-degree fever, or a golfer battles the heat and pressure on Sunday’s final round, or a chess player fights off a headache to make a daring move with his Queen, remember the story of Tiger Maddox: following an appendectomy for breakfast, she showed up and took a walk across the green grass at Lampasas High.

Cheaper by the Dozen Tiger Maddox finishes her 400-meter race. Not winning would prove to be last on her list of concerns.

By Art Dlugach LAMPASAS—The next time you hear a coach say: “You’ve got to give 100%.” “Dig down deep.” “You guys need to go the extra mile.” “Win one for the Gipper.” Think of Tiger Maddox. The Llano High sophomore didn’t do any of those things; all she did was show up and may have been the Most Outstanding Athlete at the district 8-AAA Track & Field Meet—the best M-O-A ever, not to win any medals. Tiger ran in the 400-meter race prelims, late Wednesday afternoon, April 10. She didn’t do too well. Most runners

The Llano News

have trouble catching their breath or walking off the challenge of an exhausting effort on the track, no matter the length of the race. A photo of Tiger appeared to reveal she was hurting. Wednesday night, Tiger was bothered by chest-and-ribcage pain. Her family took her to Llano Memorial Hospital, but no one could find anything wrong until Dr. Ryan Morris in the Emergency Room decided on a CAT scan. The scan revealed the need for an appendectomy. Dr. Griffith Thomas performed that surgery at 7 a.m., Thursday, the 11th. Around noon that day, I

By Art Dlugach No big innings except the ones by the home team. No comebacks by the visitors. No repeat of their first meeting for goodness sakes. No errors after the game’s first batter. What does all that mean? A 12-2 torment by Llano’s baseball team against Lampasas. “The kids hit the ball hard,” said head coach Mike Ridings, and, “Isaac pitched another great game.” This one, April 9, was decided quickly. Ralph Marez of the Badgers threw eight balls to Wil Siegenthaler and Holden Simpson to open the Jackets’ first inning. Taylor Sorensen singled in a run, and Isaac tripled home two. Rhett Brooks followed with an RBI double to left field, and after five batters, Llano led 4-0. Brooks, with a head-first

slide into home on a throw to first and subsequent late throw to the plate, became the fifth man to score. Pete Rose never showed such daring. “We all knew the importance of this game,” declared Rhett. It began the second half of the 8-AAA schedule. Hutto was solid, thorough, and not vulnerable to Badger bats. He allowed three hits and struck out six in five innings of the mercy-rule affair. “I felt pretty good,” Hutto advised. “I was using my fast ball and curve, inside and outside, hitting the corners.” “His fast ball was working all night,” added battery-mate Siegenthaler. So was his aluminum. Isaac slammed a two-run home run 360 feet over the fence in center in the second frame. It

was his second homer in his last seven innings of competition. “My hitting has been helped by hitting on the field in practice,” Hutto informed me. “A live arm in workouts is better than the batting cages.” Brooks got the other hit of the inning, and eight men went to the plate. “Rhett let the ball come in and was staying back,” Ridings observed. “When he does this, he’s a great hitter.” Brooks wound up with a double, two singles, and a walk. Sorensen’s double to center drove in a tally in the third for an 8-0 lead. Llano beat Lampasas, 7-4, in the district opener, March 19, but had lost 17-10 in a tournament game in Johnson City, March 2. “This win gives the younger kids and us older ones

confidence,” Siegenthaler, a senior, commented. The Badgers scored twice in the fifth without getting a hit, but Llano responded with four runs in its half to conclude the event. Simpson sandwiched a double off the wall in left around two walks. “Shoot man,” Ridings insisted, “we were swinging the bat. That was good.” Isaac collected his fifth RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly in that last inning, while Kyle Tarter got yet another twobase hit, and that chased two across. A throwing error made the difference a Perfect 10 and closed the concession stand. “I felt pretty good,” responded Ridings when asked if he were worried about losing the big lead. “The kids were up and in control the whole game.”

Team Effort Erases Skid Marks By Art Dlugach The End. Strange words before you know what the name of the movie is. But a good start here, because it means a 6-2 win over visiting Lampasas, April 9, broke a 15game, district losing streak. Llano had not won a league contest since scraping past Taylor, 8-7, in the 2012 opener. “We were on fire defensively,” head coach Brian Cottle said of the Badger confrontation. “We made one meaningless error.” The offense was good, too, and it jump-started the Jacket surge. Lacey Redden and Cierra Jordan opened the first inning with singles, and Claire Williams doubled in the base runners. “Should’ve been out of the park,” Cottle insisted. Courtney Mize doubled in the

third run. “I think they were scared after that,” declared Jessica Wunderlich. Lampasas did ignore fright in the second but only got a run back. “Angela Jackson pitched a really good game,” applauded Jessica, who added, “It was the best I’ve seen her.” Cottle called AJ’s job, “wonderful.” In the fifth frame, Redden got another single, and Jordan picked up her third hit. Wunder’s double to left chased in two runs, and Mize would single in Llano’s last run for a 6-1 lead. Cottle praised the defense earlier. He should have. Williams made stops at third with the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings and fired to Redden at home for one out. Lacey then went to Ciarra

Deats at first to complete the 5-2-3 pair of DPs. Llano did drop a 12-2 decision in Gatesville, April 12 but that could not dim the merits of a contest that erased a winless campaign. “People doubted us,” observed Wunderlich, but, “We showed ‘em.” “We tried not to focus on the losing streak,” noted Cottle “Meltdowns along the way have cost us. We want to ge the girls in the right frame o mind. Physically, we can play the mental side is more important. “We have four kids, who had no varsity experience when the season began. They wan to do well, and they will.” Wunder: “That’s a good win under our belt.”

MORE TRACK, Continued from page 21.

the heavy metal about 100 feet to qualify for Area, the next leg of the playoff ladder. 100 feet would have been about as good as she had done on what “started out to be a bad day.” Jordan wound up, spun, and let fly. After 102 feet, three inches, the disc landed, and she won bronze. “I gave it my all on my last throw,” so, book another room for Stephenville. “It’s the story of her whole career,” throwers’ coach Daryl Friedrich advised. “She steps up her game when the competition steps up.” The next challenge was the shot, and Jordan put the put on a 36 foot, 8-and-a-half-inch flight. That was good enough for silver. “I was exhausted,” she admitted. Taylor made We’re close to the finish line of our story and the 4x200-meter relay race for the girls. Taylor Durham will take us home. Kortney Kelso, Shaylee Jameson, and Ericka Tisdale preceded Taylor Durham’s run. Durham, like Cierra Jordan earlier in our saga, was facing the end of her career. “I knew the others had given their all; I owed it to them to push through.” Durham really didn’t owe anyone anything. She had put in four years of fighting for every loose ball and fighting to lose excess seconds on country roads and on the oval.Each contest— in whatever sport—was Game 7 to Taylor. “I was aware of the importance of the last 200 meters,” she added. “It didn’t matter if my opponents ate track.” I’m not sure I would have phrased it in such a conversational manner, but I guess that describes the situation. Durham missed by a mouthful of getting third, but fourth was okay, too. The top four teams go to Area, so her career lives for another week at least. “The girls performed well,” insisted head coach Pete Rhoades. “I’m disappointed we didn’t qualify as many as I would have liked, but the girls gave me all they had.”

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The Llano News

Smart Balance Wins Reunion

By Art Dlugach BURNET — It’s pretty simple, right now anyway. If Llano beats Brownwood, November 8, or if Lampasas loses to Burnet, the Jackets are in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. There are a lot of other possibilities, but

may object to what could be lengthy traveling to the smaller enrollments—three times a year maximum—we suggest you join Lance Center online, or you can get a seat in Burnet to see if they handle picking on someone their own size.

Quarterback Derek Kiser threw two touchdown passes for the ‘Dogs, but a better balancing act than what the Wallendas showed us for decades was the difference. “I think they’d be undefeated if they had stuck to a balanced attack,” said Llano

Eliazar Villegas has been after opposing jerseys much of the season. Brock Foster might lose his. Jalen Bauman is airborne. Notice the gray color of the Green and White Bulldogs’ numbers. Go figure. I left my trig, geometry, and Numbers defensive coordinator, Clint algebra books at my mom’s Liberty Hill (4-0) has won Easley. He thinks they had house, so I will not get into the 8-AAA title with Llano, gotten “a little impatient.” the what-ifs. I gave up last Burnet, and the Lions tied at That translates to: throwing night after reaching number 2-2. Gatesville and Lampas- the ball too much. Burnet is 74. as are 1-3. Four teams con- 6-3. I can tell you this: the foot- tinue on in the postseason. Kiser’s arm—he now has ball Jackets have played the Game time 26 TD passes—was certainly Bulldogs for the last time Burnet whipped the Jack- efficient, but his teammates in district competition. In ets, 35-14, on the first night ran for 241 yards—unheard 2014, Llano will be matched of November. The contest of in the post Wishbone era. against Class 3A schools was closer than the score inLlano (4-5) had the first closer to its size. This is for dicates, but I have been told opportunity to score, when football only. my closet has no more room Chance Ware, racing down For those of you who for excuses or explanations. the left sideline, was seen

more alone than Ted Cruz at an ACLU party, but Layton Rabb overthrew him by a yard. “Would have been a nice start, no doubt,” sighed head coach Craig Slaughter. Burnet would score with 3:29 left in the first quarter on a Cody Jones one-yard rush. In the second period, Rabb would author this incredible moment: “Rolls left and right…now goes back left... still has the ball! Now, wants to go back right…now back left!! Throws down the sidelines! What a play! That’s Chance Ware. The Jacket fans can’t believe it! How fantastic was that?!” Johnny Manziel-esque and 34 yards to the ‘Dogs’ 34. In a more conventional manner, Layton threw 19 yards to Isaac Hutto to the Bulldogs’ seven-yard line, and Carter Tatsch scored from the three. “We couldn’t get the ball to Carter enough,” lamented Slaughter. “We have to create more {blocking and space} for him,” he added, and the coach wants CT to have “20-25 touches against Brownwood.” Touches that will produce more than 35 yards on 15 carries. It was a 7-7 tilt with just over seven minutes left in the half, but Kiser and Blayne Parisher teamed for two scores and a 21-7 lead. “Blayne was going up and made a great catch,” Kiser said of the first six on fourthand-10 from the 22. “I knew he’d be there,” the QB advised, concerning the second tally, an 11-yard strike. Burnet had found the end zone twice in two minutes, 34 seconds—the time included a brief possession by Llano. The Jackets had a significant, but not fruitful, drive just before the half ended. After intermission Llano took the third quarter kickoff and reached the Bulldogs’ 44. That’s when Rabb gave the ball to Jalen Bau-

November 6, 2013 • 19

Lance Reven (34) and Wyatt Bauman (5) help jar the ball loose from Derek Kiser, but Kiser was ruled down. Photo by Briley Mitchell. man. He then threw to the lonely end: Hutto. The halfback pass resulted in a touchdown and a 21-14 ball game. “It never worked in practice,” Isaac told me. “We hadn’t connected once, but the coaches said it would work in the game.” It was the team’s second-leading receiver throwing to number one. “JB did a good job,” Hutto noted. “We got excited when it was 21-14,” Slaughter related, but, “they answered.” Yes, under two and a half minutes later. There was a 24-yard pass, Kiser to Brock Foster, but the final 38 yards was consumed by the running of Foster, Trenton Hafley, Jonathan Brown, and Kiser pushed across from the two. Nobody was making excuses that Eli Tiffin, Chance Ware, Clancy Durham, Tristan Lynch, and Tommy Yelvington either did not suit up in pads or went out because of injury during the game. Rabb, who was a morethan-solid 20-of-32 for 252 yards and no interceptions— and he ran for 67 on 10 carries—led the visitors on a march to the foes’ 43-yardline, but a big third-down loss squelched the drive.

“We didn’t make them work hard enough,” acknowledged Slaughter. Down two scores, a Rabb 27-yard gallop to the Burnet 14 in the fourth quarter was the beginning of a last gasp. A Chase Mardis sack was huge, but on fourthand-17 from the 21, Layton went to Isaac—it would be the seniors’ final hope to escape from Bulldog Stadium with one triumph. The oddsagainst aerial to the end zone slipped through the extended finger tips of Hutto’s hands with 7:38 on the clock. “I should have made the play,” Isaac said with class. “He put it in my wheelhouse.” Hutto caught seven passes for 118 yards. A Foster TD closed out the scoring. Kiser and his senior teammates had a victory in their final confrontation on what has become a storied stadium. Postgame Easley: “The kids never gave up.” Slaughter on Brownwood: “Our last district game; let’s go have a good one.” Hutto on Burnet: “It’s a tough loss; we came in fighting; we wanted it so bad. It hurts so much.”

Running with the College Crowd

Marcos Vallejo is the first boy from Llano High to play sports at a Big 12 school. Number two is Matthew Center, who is a freshman on the UT football roster. Photo by Art Dlugach. By Art Dlugach WACO—Marcos Vallejo is not winning every Saturday—well, most Saturdays—like he did at Llano High, but his Texas Tech boss is not complaining. “I am so proud of him,” said Red Raider head coach, Jon Murray. “He’s worked incredibly hard, has a great attitude.” None of that surprises most of you who know Marcos, LHS Class of 2012. I got to see him dash around the Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships, November 2. He ran his PR (personal record) time of 24 minutes, seven seconds. That’s for an 8K—just under five miles. Average mile:

4:51. Marcos, a sophomore, finished 27th in a field of 81. He was third on his team, and five contribute to the scoring. “I went out too fast,” he explained. “I went with the competition.” Coach Murray agreed with the observation, and, in effect, added, “He’ll learn.” “I’m getting used to 8Ks,” Vallejo declared. “I’ve done some strong workouts.” In high school in Texas, the boys run 3.1 miles. Marcos won all four of his cross country district championships as a Jacket, and he also captured at least one gold medal on the track in four district meets—plus winning regional gold twice,

and he won two bronze medals at Mike Myers Stadium. “He’s beating people he wasn’t close to in high school,” advised Murray. “He’s the team captain, despite being pretty young. The team recognizes his leadership ability.” Next year, Marcos should also be number one in time among the Red Raiders. “I don’t know if I’m ready,” he responded to that, knowing it’s a “problem” far beyond the current finish lines. Vallejo, with his family on hand on a beautiful, but slightly windy, morning in Waco, got to—again—congratulate his teammate, senior Kennedy Kithuka. All he did was gallop away from everything but a Toyota, and he decimated his previous Big 12-record time with a 22-16 clocking. Kithuka is the reigning NCAA gold medalist. “It’s good having him, to see how good he is,” Marcos stated. “I forget he’s national champion,” but he does “provide motivation.” Another Red Raider, senior Ezekiel Kissorio, naturally called, “Easy,” was 10th in Waco. None of the rest of the Tech runners was very close to Vallejo, and the team was fifth. Oklahoma State won the conference title. Final strides “Expectations are high for Marcos,” insists Murray. “He shows leadership because of his work ethic. We’re in good hands with him.”


20 • November 6, 2013

A Memorable Goodbye

THANKS, SENIORS! (L-R) Back row: Angela Jackson, Cheyenne Swenson, Kayla Rodriguez, Amanda Morgan, Samantha Lawrence, Autumn Sanderson, and Courtney Faircloth. Front: Averee Abney and Cierra Caffey. By Art Dlugach There was one final moment of glory for the Llano High volleyball Jackets, who scratched and clawed for elusive glory most of the 2013 season. Llano won one game—on a stage of utmost drama—from unbeaten district champion Liberty Hill, October 29. The Panthers

The Llano News

won the match three games to one, losing just that set and another to Gatesville, as their only blips on a 10-0, 8-AAA campaign. “I’m happy for the girls,” said Jackets’ head coach, John Black. “They played hard in Game 2; they were intense with lots of emotion.” There should have been

both elements on hand for the proceedings, as nine seniors saw the clock race to their last seconds of high-school volleyball playing-time. Game 2 Llano jumped out to a 6-1 lead, but Liberty Hill, ranked ninth in the state in Class 3A, regained the command it showed in a 25-15 victory in

Game 1, and led 14-10. No problem. Amanda Morgan struck for the fifth point of a 7-0 run. Lacey Redden took care of the next one with help from Angela Jackson. Claire Williams authored a dump-over for the 17-14 advantage. “I thought Llano played phenomenal,” declared the Panthers’ veteran head coach, Gretchen Peterson. The broadcast voices for the visitors said the Jackets were “in a zone.” A Redden serve helped make the tally, 19-15, but Liberty Hill roared back to closet six of the next seven points for a 21-20 lead. This set the table—literally—for senior Cheyenne Swenson to make a surge to the scorer’s table to keep a rally alive. It was one of her finest moves in months and months of valiant efforts in a Black and Orange uniform. The Jackets got the point, and this time reporter Chuck Licata said: “It was one of Liberty Hill’s opponents’ top plays of the year.” Llano, though, trailing and facing game-point, kept the match going as Redden de-

livered a kill. All square at 24. “We put pressure on them,” insisted Black. He acknowledged there were times of being passive, but he also noted: “We were the aggressors {at first}, and when we got passive, we were the aggressors again.” Morgan found a space in the Liberty Hill defense for a 25-24 lead, but the scoreboard would also read, in Llano’s favor: 26-25, 27-26, and 28-27. The Panthers had answers for the first three, but, with Jackson serving, an out ball ended this long, successful journey at 29-27. “They did a great job,” Peterson stated about Llano. “I was very impressed.” Her team claimed the last two games by the same score of 25-13. That won’t be what the seniors have to recall at reunion time. Kayla Rodriguez, Samantha Lawrence, Autumn Sanderson, Courtney Faircloth, Averee Abney, Cierra Caffey, and Jackson, Morgan, and Swenson were the honored guests at Seniors’ and Parents’ Night.

The Past “The record was not what we wanted,” Black mentioned. “It was not up to my expectations.” The Jackets had a losing mark in non-district, mostly against bigger schools, and were 2-8 in 8-AAA. “When the seniors have been with another coach their whole career,” Black added, “change is sometimes a little tough.” He replaced Shawn Sweeten, who was at LHS, 2006-2012. The Future “I’m excited,” the coach contends. “We’ve got good junior varsity and freshman players, and how they develop will determine a lot.” Fine veterans, Christy Vassar and Williams and Redden return in 2014. “The more touches we get before August {2014},” Black advises, “the better we will be.” That means maybe some spring ball, and summer play is practically a must. “Our intensity waned a bit; we have to work on that,” so it is there, “all the way through the season.”

Duke’s Theft for the Ages Baylor to the Texas 19-yardline. 29 seconds remained on the clock. There must have been panic and passion and pandemonium in the souls of the capacity crowd. Dave Campbell, then sports editor of the Waco Tribune-Herald, wrote, “65,000 hearts stood still, as Don Trull threw deep.” “I was rushing Trull,” David McWilliams told me. “I saw the pass, and Elkins was wide open.” Unbelievably, McWilliams was thinking, “Would they go for one or two?” Campbell: “Elkins flashed into the Texas end zone, his Don Trull was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1963, Baylor’s highest rendezvous with the touchfinish until Robert Griffin III won in 2011. Roger Staubach claimed the Heisman down pass and immortality only a tick away.” in ’63 as a junior. McWilliams: “All of a sudBy Art Dlugach tion. The following autumn Ever Played.” den, here comes Carlisle!” ANYWHERE IN THE was worse: 4-6. No consolaThe Season John Bridgers: “Carlisle SWC—It is the 1963 foot- tion. The Bears opened with a made one of the best defenball season—50 years ago 1963 27-0 victory over Houston, sive plays I have ever seen, this minute. Royal was now 6-0 vs. the then lost to Oregon State, 22as he came flying over and TCU didn’t do that well Bears. “He didn’t give pep 15. literally picked the ball out (4-5-1), but Abe Martin was talks,” insisted McWilliams. On October 12, in the afof Elkins’ hands. still the coach. “He expected you to be ready ternoon, number-two Texas “We would have gone for And who do you think to go out {and perform}, and trounced number-one Oklatwo on the extra point.” was at Rice? Yes, Jess you wanted to play good.” homa, 28-7, in Dallas. 90 Campbell: “Carlisle, diving Neely—1966 would be his Sports Illustrated was one miles to the south, under the desperately, caught the pass,” finale. of those that had Texas num- lights, Baylor defeated Arand, “smote the Bears.” Hayden Fry didn’t have a ber one in its preseason poll. kansas, 14-10, to initiate the And a BU junior named great campaign in ’63 (4-7), The ‘Horns lived up to that, 1963 Ballyhoo on the BraDlugach. but he would lead the Mus- getting past Tulane, Tech, zos. I interviewed Bridgers after tangs to the ’66 Southwest and Oklahoma State by a Note: The night before the madness ended in glory Conference title. combined 104-14. those two games—yes, a Frifor one side and throbbing A&M (2-7-1), under Hank Lou Maysel, in Here Come day—SMU upset Navy and heartbreak for the other, and Foldberg, finished last in the the Texas Longhorns, said Roger Staubach in the Cotton I opened with, “It was a great SWC, but, oh, did they pull early writing marked the Bowl, 32-28—the Midshipgame.” This dignified man, off an almost! team “as one of the quality men’s only regular-season who would teach Sunday Frank Broyles, a year away aspirants of college foot- loss. from 11-0, led Arkansas to a ball’s mythical crown.” While the Longhorns were school the next morning, remere 5-5 in 1963. Emmett Augustus “Duke” next beating Arkansas, Rice, plied: “No, it was not.” In the J.T. King and Texas Tech Carlisle was the quarterback and the Mustangs by a comwere also 5-5. and a pretty good defensive bined 13 points, Baylor was It all came down to John back—but defense wasn’t a handling the Red Raiders by Bridgers and Baylor vs. Dar- big consideration for “most” four, A&M by four touchrell Royal and Texas. of the season. downs, and TCU, 32-13. “No question the 1961 Tackle Scott Appleton of Nov. 9, 1963 team was the best-ever, tal- Brady was an All-American; We join our finalists with ent wise,” lineman, David legendary guard-linebacker both unbeaten in SWC play. McWilliams, told me. He Tommy Nobis, a sophomore, Overall, top-ranked Texas is lettered, ’61-’63. “We beat was All-SWC, and so was 7-0, and the Bears are 5-1. everybody badly,” he added. running back, Tommy Ford. 50 years ago this Saturday Indeed: the Aggies came the Baylor wide receiver Law- at Memorial Stadium—not “closest,” losing “only,” 25- rence Elkins—called an yet DKR—in Austin. 0, in ‘61. end in those days—was an It was no wild-scoring afEverybody was beaten All-American, and the man fair. Tom Stockton scored a but Texas Christian—which who threw him the ball, Don touchdown for the ‘Horns in pulled off a remarkable 6-0 Trull, recently joined Elkins the third quarter. It was 7-0. upset. in the College Football Hall Lou Maysel wrote that Outscoring foes, 303-66, of Fame. Trull-to-Elkins worked interthe Longhorns finished 10-1 “We were ahead of our mittently in the fourth period, and ranked third in the nation time with the offense coach but an interception seemed to by The Associated Press. UT Bridgers brought from the settle the issue with 2:14 to was 9-1-1 in 1962 and con- pros, throwing a lot of pass- go. However, Stockton fumference champion again. es,” said Trull. bled the ball back. Baylor Baylor was a disappointing Bridgers had been with the had 1:53 to take a giant leap 6-5 in ’61 but won the Go- Baltimore Colts when they toward its first-ever appeartham Bowl—at the famed won the 1958 NFL title over ance in the Cotton Bowl. Polo Grounds—24-9, over the Giants, 23-17, in overQB Carlisle was now in the Utah State. Small consola- time—“The Greatest Game game as a safety. Trull led

Duke Carlisle (11) grabs the interception against Baylor, 50 years ago, Saturday, November 9. Lawrence Elkins (26) was going for his 13th catch of the day. For him, an unlucky moment. last half century, I’ve never tried to console an athlete or a coach after a loss. Next up Stunned Baylor was surprised by average Kentucky, 19-7, in front of a cozy, dazed audience in Waco the following Saturday. The Bears regrouped to get past Rice, SMU, and LSU in the Bluebonnet Bowl to finish 8-3. Texas shutout TCU, 17-0, but—remember “almost”?— the Longhorns squeaked by two-win A&M, 15-13, benefiting from a very close call that went against the Aggies. High Cotton Navy head coach Wayne Hardin said: “When the challenger {his guys} meets the champion, and the challenger wins, then there’s a new

champion.” Royal’s reaction: “We’re ready.” Carlisle, back on offense, threw two long TD passes to Phil Harris, and Texas walloped Navy, 28-6. UT was 11-0 and national champion for the first time. The Middies lost twice in the 1963 season: both times at the Cotton Bowl. Texas had indeed been ready, and the Longhorns would win two more national titles with Royal as head coach. With Baylor doing so well these days, I’m okay with that sad but super moment in Austin 50 years ago. Pretty much okay—but don’t tell me it was a great game.