WARR ACRES — Jonah Llanusa's name might not be a familiar one yet. But it's going to be.
Choctaw's 6-foot-1, 180-pound junior quarterback rushed for four touchdowns and 75 yards, while throwing for another 170 yards to lead the Yellowjackets to a 45-28 win at Putnam City on Thursday night.
“He's a special kid,” said first-year Choctaw coach Todd Dilbeck. “He's just a junior, and he's just now learning the offense. When he gets it down, it's gonna be something special.”
Of course, the defense deserves just as much credit for Thursday's victory, keeping the Putnam City offense out of the end zone the entire second half. PC had 259 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but the Pirates' only second-half points came off interception and kickoff returns.
Crowding the box to slow the PC rushing duo of JaVone Knox and Denzel Dean, Choctaw limited the Pirates to just 76 second-half yards.
“We just made some adjustments and went to our base,” linebacker Derrick Briggs said. “We were getting seven or eight guys in the box instead of running so many defensive backs in the back.”
With the win, the Yellowjackets are 2-1 on the season — in other words, the same number of games they've won the last two seasons combined.
“Our head coach and the staff have done a tremendous job,” Briggs said. “They've helped us out in every area. There's more excitement than ever. Everyone in the school is excited about the program.”
Freshman running back Tyrel Bell had 46 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries, helping to give the offense balance while Llanusa carried the load. Choctaw totaled 319 yards on just 56 snaps, playing with an offensive line that had to do some midweek shuffling after an injury.
Athletic with a good arm, Llanusa is the ideal dual-threat quarterback for the spread offense Dilbeck and offensive coordinator Ty Prestidge had so much success with at Mustang over much of the last decade.
But the Yellowjackets are still a work in progress in terms of building a consistent winning program. They haven't won more than three games since 2005, and the playoffs are a distant memory.
“The program is going up, for sure,” Llanusa said. “We've doubled our wins from last year already.
“It's just hard work so far. We came off a loss last week and knew we had to bounce back in a big way.”