After a season in which Keller fielded a roster with 48 seniors – 17 of which were starters – spring football drills were an important part of the coming season’s preparations.
“It was an important spring for us,” said head coach Carl Stralow. “We have a lot of new faces that needed to grow up quickly. I’m pleased with the progress and some stepped up and grew into it and that’s exciting.”
Keller plans to reload and develop new talent as it heads into the newly drafted District 3-6A this year.
The Indians took full advantage of each and every one of the 18 allotted practices, including the spring intrasquad game.
“We won the spring game,” Stralow joked. “Everyone worked hard and nobody got hurt. We flew around and played really hard. That’s all you can ask for. We enjoyed watching next year’s team and I’m proud of their effort. They did some good things.”
Of special interest for Keller is the development of the offensive line and skilled positions. Those roles will help the Indians try to match an explosive offense from a year ago.
Four linemen have established themselves while a few receivers, a running back and a quarterback are beginning to emerge.
The skilled players will be replacing two-year starters.
At running back, Liam Ardigo has been a pleasant surprise in terms of his progress.
While the development of the quarterbacks and receivers hasn’t been a surprise to Stralow, the youthfulness of the team will be an area to watch.
“They may have to check drivers’ licenses when we get off the bus at Abilene,” Stralow said in reference to the young squad before playing the first game of the season on Aug. 26 against Abilene Cooper. “But we have a chance of being a really good football team.”
Until then, the athletes are involved in six weeks of strength and conditioning.
Stralow said the team is athletic but just lacks the size except for a few positions.
Players such as defensive end Spencer Misko is 6-5, 250 and growing. He recently committed to play at Oklahoma State, possibly as a tight end.
There may not be the number of FCS, Div. II and III players signing from this year’s squad as last year, but Stralow said it’s a great group of kids he has as he enters his fifth year at Keller.
“We have good players who have been successful and they’re hungry. We may take our lumps at times but we’ll bounce back,” Stralow said.