While it’s really easy to look at a 1-9 record and see nothing but despair, that doesn’t exactly tell the story of the Keller Indians’ 2016 season.
Yes, 1-9 is a bad record, belonging to a team that definitely did not hit par. However, closer losses to similarly struggling teams with a relatively young team should give more hope for this year than pessimism. The Indians only lost by two to McKinney, were within two scores of LD Bell, and lost by three points to a good Midland team.
The Indians began to struggle more heavily later in the season, outside of an overtime win over Weatherford (their only win of the year), they were beaten very soundly by every single other team. Scores like a 31-3 loss to Fossil Ridge and a 50-31 loss to Haltom show us a team that struggled heavily, but after some growing pains, might have a chance to make the playoffs and upset some of the heavy hitters in 3-6A.
DE Spencer Misko, RB Camron Jones, QB Dillon Smith, WR Brady Marek
Kansas State-bound Spencer Misko is at the head of the key losses list. He had a first team all-district year in his senior campaign, and his ability to set edges and get after the passer is something that won’t be the same for next year’s Keller team.
Keller will lose lots of experience on the offensive side of the ball as well. Shifty running back Camron Jones and stalwart quarterback Dillon Smith will graduate, and the Indians’ second leading receiver, Brady Marek, will join them as well. This trio was dependable, especially Camron Jones, who moved from WR to RB after an injury to Liam Ardigo.
QB Sloan Henry, SB Michael Anderson, RB Liam Ardigo, DL Grayson Williams, S Khari Watson
Here’s where we can begin to see the hope for Keller: Sloan Henry has a great arm, and got good gametime experience last year. Michael Anderson, the Indians’ leading receiver, is back. Liam Ardigo should be good to go after an ACL injury cut last season very short. Grayson Williams, the 3-6A newcomer of the year, is back to anchor the middle of the defense. Roving over the top is Khari Watson, who had an excellent junior year. Taking all of these players into account, Keller still has plenty more, including an offensive line that returns nearly everyone and an experienced WR corps.
It’s tough to predict things this far in advance, but I feel very safe calling this now: Keller will be the most improved team in 3-6A next year, bar none. This is a young team with experience in key places that will pay dividends. Keller will not only challenge for a playoff spot, they’ll be one of the odds on favorites to win one and maybe play a few rounds deep come time for district competition.
3-6A is going to be treacherous in 2017, and it’ll be because of teams like Keller that might see massive improvement from this year to the next.
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