The Keys High School football team has known nothing but success in it short lifetime.

In the four years of its exsistance of the high school the Cougars have qualified for the playoffs in each one and Head Coach Gary Willis expects his 2006 team to continue the tradition.

"We plan to go out and win the district championship. We have made the playoffs every season. We have been around and we hope to take it to the next level and travel a little deeper in the post season this time around," Willis said.

The Cougars are coming off a 10-2 season and are moving up from Class A to Class 2A but with the starters they have returning are expected to continue in the same mold as teams in the past because of the talent and work ethic on hand.

"Our attitude and work ethic is as good as it has been. If that continues we will only get better as the season progresses," Willis added.

Leading the offense this season will be senior Jayson Steeley. Steeley is moving over to play quarterback after playing wide receiver and running back in 2005 where he picked up over 1,000 total yards as a junior.

"Jayson is a very good athlete and he has a strong arm. One the best players I have out, if not the best," Willis said.

Also getting snaps at quarterback will be junior Chance Ross and sophomore Ryan Nolan with freshmen Cole Welch and Lane Trammel also in the mix.

Moving into the top running back spot, in the one back set, is senior Micheal Morrison. Morrison rushed for over 600 yards and eight touchdowns while splitting time in 2005.

"Micheal is a very strong and powerful back that has the speed to make the big play," Willis said.

He will be backed up by sophomore Jake Neal while freshmen Cody Young will also be available for duty if called on. Senior Robert Enkey will start at fullback while sophomore Justin Keys and freshmen Taylor Murphy will compete for playing time behind Enkey.

When not providing backup at quarterback, Ross will man one of the wide receiver spots while junior Justin Parks will play flanker.

Seniors Spencer Carson and Joe Castro, junior Josh Fisher, sophomores Billy Worthington, Aaron Eubanks and Justin Douillard along with freshmen Casey Taylor, Dillon Springwater, Kaleb McCarty, Bo Ellison and Cody Martin will be catching passes in Willis' offense.

Returning at tight end is senior Nathan Kuhns who will start and get support from junior Kyle Combs.

Both are over six foot tall making them good targets for Steeley.

Sophomore Colton Harbuck along with freshman Taylor Swanson will also see playing time at tight end.

Senior Tyler Nipper will start at one of the offensive tackle spots while junior Taylor Hodge will start at the other.

The sophomore tandem of Rob Ryals and Chris Girdner will man the offensive guard spots with senior Kyle LeMasters at center.

"This is the best offensive line we have ever had. They are all good athletes and have worked hard in the off season. They come to play football everyday," Willis said.

Senior Danny Perez will be the chief backup on the offensive line while sophomores Skylar Lenard, John Yount, Kenley Nipper, Heath Bryan and Jarrick Snyder and freshmen Austin Maize, Derrel Scavone, Estevan Guzman, Zac Rajpari, Dominic Weaver, Cody McCristian, Ronnie Adams, Zack Fowler, Paul Newberry, and Bobby Summerlin will also play on the offensive line.

Willis feels the defensive line will be one of the teams strengths.

Starting at the strong side defensive end spot will be Keys, Ryals at defensive tackle, LeMasters at nose tackle and Kuhns at weak side end.

"Justin is one of the hardest working kids I have. He has excellent technique and can really impact the defense." Willis added. "Rob is Justin's work ethic twin. They are both sophomores and very good kids. Kuhns brings a lot of experience as a third year starter. What else can I say but they are just a really good group."

Girdner and Hodge will provide the support on the line.

Others playing on the defensive line include; Lenard, Tyler Nipper, Perez, Guzman, Snyder, Yount, Rajpari, Kenley Nipper, Weaver, McCristian, Adams, Fowler, Newberry and Bryan.

Neal and Fisher will share time at sam linebacker while Combs will play the mike postion.

Enkey will play the weakside with Morrison starting at the fourth linebacking spot.

Swanson, Springwater, Murphy and Scavone will be the backups at linebacker.

Others playing linebacker include; Maize, Welch, Harbuck, Summerlin and Robbins.

The secondary will also be a team strength with Parks and Ross playing corner back while Steeley will play free safety.

Others playing in the secondary include; Worthington, Taylor, Martin, Springwater, Douillard, Eubanks, McCarty, Trammel, Carson, Young, Castro, Ellison and Kirk.

The district that Keys resides in, 2A-8, is one of the toughest in the class.

"Colcord, Adair and Tahlequah Sequoyah along with us will be the upper part of the district. But you never count out John Hanna at Kansas and Westville should be better." Willis said. "On the state level with teams like Cascia Hall and Eufaula dropping down from 3A and Vian moving up from Class A along with powers out west it will be an interesting season. There is a whole of kids and coaches working their tails off to get to where we also want to be."

The goals for the Cougars are simple but a lot hard work away.

"We plan on winning the district championship, make a deep run into the playoffs and be practicing on Thanksgiving Day. We don't talk about a second or third round playoff game. We talk about going all the way. With hard work and if things fall into place anything can happen," Willis added.

Keys will open the season Sept. 1 on the road at Gore.


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