At 1-5, the Killeen Kangaroos were struggling to get their footing underneath them. Then, the Roos rolled off four wins in a row to earn the third playoff spot in District 8-6A. For head coach Neil Searcy, it was a team that “embraced the underdog role” and clawed their way into the postseason.
Their season ended the following week, as the Kangaroos lost to DeSoto in the bi-district round, but it was the first playoff game for Killeen since 2012. With a playoff appearance and positive momentum surrounding the program, the question is how will the Roos follow it up in 2017?
RB Isaac Tolbert, DE Shakim Wright, LB Jalil Bethel, CB Carlos Wilson
Killeen loses one of their top playmakers on offense from 2016 in running back Isaac Tolbert (513 yards, 4 TDs). The senior was voted first team All-District in 2016 and replacing him will be an important part of the offseason plan for Searcy and his coaching staff.
The majority of the big impact losses will be on the defensive side of the ball. Up front, Shakim Wright finished with 51 tackles (10 for loss) but it was the stability that he brought to the team that made up such a difference. The first team All-District defensive end also overcame adversity off the field and his play was inspiring for both himself and his team.
In the back seven, linebacker Jalil Bethel leaves as the team’s leading tackler from 2016 (112 tackles and Carlos Wilson (51 tackles, INT) served as a team leader in the secondary that came up with big plays, especially when the Roos went on their four game winning streak to end the regular season.
QB Marcellus Johnson, WR Montego Muckelvaney, LB Chris Ingram, LB Vrashon Walker
Coming back, the Roos are excited to have their quarterback Marcellus Johnson back for his senior year. The dual threat at quarterback (1,287 yards passing, 10 TDs, 671 yards rushing 5 TD) should continue to improve and take further command of a talented offense. He’ll have one of his top targets back in Montego Muckelvaney as the first team All-District selection looks to build off of his solid junior year (44 catches, 782 yards, 7TD).
Defensively, the linebackers will be a key part of the Killeen defense. Bethel is gone, but Chris Ingram is back after being named the Defensive Newcomer of the Year in District 8-6A. The rising junior filled in after Vrashon Walker was lost to an injury early in the season. Walker also comes back for his senior season and the pair should provide some stability and playmaking in the middle.
After the last few years of struggles, head coach Neil Searcy has the Roos trending in the right direction. This was a team that looked like they started to figure it out late in the year and being able to win close games helps with a team’s confidence.
Belton and Waco Midway still appear to be headlining District 8-6A, but the Kangaroos could be right there again to pick up another playoff spot.
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