Mel Maxfield brings expertise to Keys

Keys head coach Mel Maxfield talks to his players after the Cougars completed spring practice Friday at Keys High School.

PARK HILL -- Mel Maxfield is learning all over again.

Keys' new head football coach is well-established, but he's in unfamiliar territory and surrounded by new faces.

Maxfield, hired by the Cougars last month, ranks among the winningest coaches in Texas high school football history.

Now, he hopes to bring the same formula of success to Keys.

The Cougars, now on their third head coach in as many years, went 3-7 last season under Mitchell Crittenden after going 6-5 and advancing to the Class 3A Playoffs the the year before under Chris McMullen.

Maxfield's previous head coaching job lasted just one year in Monahans (Texas). He guided Amarillo High School to a 65-29 record over the span of eight seasons prior to his stop in Monahans.

Over a 37-year career, he's posted a 249-114-1 record, which also includes lead roles at Forney and Burleson. He led Forney to a state championship game appearance in 2000. Maxfield was honored in 2016 with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Tom Landry Award.

Maxfield's expedition to Oklahoma is unorthodox, considering his glory south of the Red River.

"I applied for jobs all over Texas and I was a little disappointed that I didn't get more action than I did," he said. "I know my age probably didn't help things, but I thought my record spoke for itself. I think I'm ranked 15th all-time in wins in Texas. I gave myself a time frame so if I didn't get a job in Texas I'd start looking at some border states."

The Cougars, who just wrapped up spring practice last Friday, are certainly thankful.

"I took the job, moved up here and got settled and hit the ground running," Maxfield said. "I couldn't believe that we could do spring football at this classification. We didn't get all 10 workouts in but we got seven in and we got things established to where I've got a feel for what the kids are like. I'm real pleased with their effort, their football knowledge and their coachability. I'm really looking forward to progressing with this bunch."

Keys has solid numbers returning on both sides of the ball and the Cougars will keep their same principles on offense with the Wing T.

"I'm a Wing T guy," Maxfield said. "I think the carryover was close enough. I think we've got our offense down but of course we're still a work in progress. We run the sweep. We run the trap. We run the bellies. We run the bootleg. That's a good start with that offense. We'll eventually add some option to it, but one thing I've always felt, the more guys you've got going both ways the less you need to do on both sides of the ball. For me, it's find something you believe in, work on the basics and get real good at those things and go from there."

Back to lead the offense is sophomore-to-be quarterback Lane Tayler, the multi-dimensional Bryce Sanders, who will be a senior, and fullback Aaron Smither.

Maxfield stresses the importance of offensive line play and the Cougars appear to be well-equipped up front.

"I think we have a good chance to be pretty good up front," he said. "We've got to be more consistent coming off the football and more consistent with our pad level, but that'll come with more practice. My opinion is the offensive line is the most important part of a football team, especially with our approach because we like to control the football."

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