2018-06-08 / Sports

Keenan faces many changes in 2018

By Josh Cruse

Keenan's Chris Reed returns and will play many positions, including running back, slot receiver, and defensive back.Keenan's Chris Reed returns and will play many positions, including running back, slot receiver, and defensive back.Keenan head coach Sean Gilley said it would have been easy for his Raiders to give up after an 0-6 start to the 2017 season. However, after getting many players back, including quarterback Alajuwan Robinson, the Raiders won two of their final four games and reached the 2A playoffs.
The resiliency shown by his players in the final weeks of the 2017 season and the number of returning starters back are a recipe for optimism for Gilley as he prepares for the 2018 season.
Keenan’s success all begins with Robinson who is a dual threat at the quarterback position. Robinson is also a track star. Gilley is hoping for a breakout year from his signal caller.
Chris Reed will see a lot of time at running back in 2018 but will also play a number of positions, including slot receiver and defensive back. Reed is also a track star, qualifying for nationals in the 4x4 relay and long jump. He is a big, strong player.
Tyreik Allen blossomed at receiver last year and is expected to have an even better season this year. Allen is also the Raiders’ kicker.
Eric Troutman is a versatile player, who can line up at running back or slot. He is a third-year player who will be expected to provide leadership.
Gilley returns three on the offensive line including Myles Branic, John Hannibal, and Antwan Benjamin. Branic is 6’-1” 280lbs and athletic. Gilley expects Hannibal to see more playing time.
On defense, Edwin English will lead the unit as a four-year player. Zion Thurmond will see time at both nose tackle and middle linebacker. He will also be a leader on that side of the ball. Vernon Raysor is a speedy defensive back. His 4.5, 40-yard dash speed is on display on the gridiron and on the track.
Louis Anderson will help out with the kicking duties for Keenan.
While the on-field results didn’t work out the way the Raiders had hoped, there is still plenty of excitement surrounding the program because of a new on-campus stadium, part of the Richland District One bond referendum.
Gilley said having to make bus trips for home games took its toll, and he is interested in what the new routine will be for home games in 2018. The new stadium has generated excitement throughout the community and school, as some kids came out for football for the first time.
Keenan moves to 3A in 2018. Gilley believes the Raiders should have remained in 2A. Keenan went from one of the largest 2A programs to one of the smallest 3A programs in the realignment.
Even with the change, Keenan is not unfamiliar with its new region opponents. Chester and Fairfield Central were two of the Raiders’ first three opponents in 2017. Other familiar opponents in 2018 include White Knoll, Columbia, and C.A. Johnson.
Gilley thinks the experience gained by his players in 2017 will help this season when going up against some of the harder teams.
Gilley isn’t using the tough schedule as an excuse. He expects his team to finish above the .500 mark, compete for a region title, and make the playoffs.
For that to happen, he said, he needs players to show up and continue to get better.

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