Tahlequah Daily Press

May 31, 2013

New faces in Keys’ backfield in 2013

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— PARK HILL — Cody Cole and Trevor Eubanks heaped a lion's share of the offensive responsibilities on their shoulders in 2012. Keys' quarterback (Eubanks) and tailback (Cole) easily accounted for more than 75 percent of the Cougars' production during a 7-4 campaign.

Now, 2013 is around the corner and Keys is having to transition into life without both.

So, the obvious question hovering over spring practice is: who steps in and fills those roles as Keys prepares for its season opener against Claremore-Sequoyah in early September?

First up, quarterback.

Eubanks was thrust into the role after Jake Phillips graduated following the 2011 campaign. At that point, the Cougars transitioned to a run-heavy offense with Eubanks being a fleet-footed signal caller who teamed up with Cole quite often in the option game.

Next in line behind Eubanks is Garret Willis, the son of head coach Gary Willis.

"We have Garret there right now," said Gary Willis, who is on the verge of his 12th season in charge at Keys. "Just mentally, he's been around football since he's been born, so the mental side is what has him ahead at that position right now."

Further down the depth chart will be a combination of Riley Radomski and Rylan Davenport.

"Both could start at quarterback," Willis said.

Attempting to take over Cole's spot at running back will be an effort by committee. It's a group, though, that Willis is fired up about.

"We're real excited about our running backs," Willis said. "We have about four or five that are all equal in talent. They're all good quality, and they're all around 175- to 180-pound kids."

Cole rushed for 1,200-plus yards in 2012, and he saved one of his best performances for last with a 199-yard effort in Keys' blowout win over Spiro in the first round of the playoffs.

"We'll have Dakota Matlock, Josh Ferguson, John Haeberle, Chance Welch," Willis said. "We have a string of them, and I'm probably leaving some of them out. Also excited about Elijah Allison, who can join the backfield and play running back."

It's quite evident that Keys' quarterback and running back tandem will look drastically different in 2013. But with Willis' endorsement, the Cougars' offense should continue to hum right along this year.