Game of the Week: Cheylin's size creates problems
Published on -10/1/2012, 12:43 PM
By CONOR NICHOLL
REXFORD -- Bird City-Cheylin High School senior Joshua Keltz is 6-foot-7, 225 pounds and the son of veteran Cougar coach Max Keltz. He has been surrounded by the Cheylin football program his entire life and his older brother, Caleb, was the Cougars' former all-state quarterback. Keltz, one of Cheylin's team captains, exudes a calm demeanor similar to his father.
Senior Ruben Razo is 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, the Cougars' fire hydrant-esque nose guard and fullback. Razo brings a constant smile and energy and is known on the team for his dancing skills. He struggled with football earlier in his career and left the program.
Keltz and Razo have changed positions this season -- and have been key players for the Cougars, including solid performances in Friday's 36-6 road win against Rexford-Golden Plains.
Keltz picked up a team-high 4.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks. Used as a pass-catching end for the first time in his career, Keltz collected two catches for a team-high 47 yards.
He also averaged 33.3 yards on four punts, including a 43-yarder that went out of bounds inside the Golden Plains' 15-yard line.
"It's a matchup problem, it really is," Golden Plains coach Travis Smith said. "We are not very big. Even if we would try to spread somebody out, especially with him -- without being able to double him, which we tried to do a lot tonight -- we just couldn't get it done. Physicality of the game, especially the second half. We just didn't match it."
Keltz helped the Cougars shut out Golden Plains in the second half and delivered the fourth strong defensive game for Cheylin this year. Cheylin (3-2, 2-1 in Eight-Man Division II, District 6) has outscored opponents 112-104 against the classification's ninth-hardest schedule, according to preppowerindex.com. Cheylin is tied for 39th in the 50-team classification in scoring offense, but is 10th in scoring defense.
"We get to the ball pretty well, and our defensive front is pretty strong," Coach Keltz said. "We emphasize defense a lot, because our offense has been sputtering, and we just kind of have to stop them if we want to win."
Razo had three carries for 16 yards, caught a 13-yard pass and opened holes for 210 rushing yards and 328 total yards. He also assisted on a tackle for loss and recorded a quarterback hurry.
"He means quite a bit, because he gets the job done, and he is fast enough to get to the ball, and fast enough to break right through," Josh Keltz said.
As a freshman and sophomore, Razo didn't finish the season. Last year, he started at nose guard all year for an 8-2 team that won a second straight district title.
"It's been great," Razo said. "Freshman and sophomore year, it was just not my thing. I was just pretty small, so I was scared, but junior year, I got built up, and I was just ready. I knew I was ready, and I just wanted to help the team, and the school out."
"He just caught on," coach Keltz said. "Last year, he was very strong. This year, he is definitely one of the kids that gets us places."
Coach Keltz wasn't pleased how Cheylin, long-known for smash mouth option football, was running the ball earlier this year.
The Cougars averaged just 141 rushing yards per game in the first four weeks. Cheylin had 90 total rushing yards in two losses to Atwood (22-14 in Week 2) and a 50-6 Week 4 defeat to Wallace County, ranked No. 2 in Eight-Man, Division II in the statewide media poll. Starting senior tailback Adam Orten is out for the year with an injury.
Keltz made several backfield changes for Golden Plains, including moving Razo to fullback. Razo said he had the "biggest smile" on his face when the coaches told him he would move to fullback.
"Just getting a head start and just hitting people," Razo said. "It's just the physical of it. You don't have to stand there and wait for the play to be over. You're the play. You have to go and block and do pretty good."
Razo helped Cheylin enjoy its second-most total yards of the season.
During the game, "I heard him saying that he had a couple pancakes or something," Cheylin senior quarterback Kenan Reeh. "He was stoked this week in practice when they told them that he was going to be fullback. ... He has the size and he is in good enough shape for a big guy that he can fill out that position the rest of the year."
Keltz had a solid 2011 with 40 tackles, two sacks, 13 pancake blocks and one catch for 36 yards. During the summer, Keltz lifted weights and improved.
"That big of kid, takes him awhile to get to that point," coach Keltz said. "He is just getting a little more coordinated, a little more athletic."
Plus, Cheylin made Keltz a pass-catching threat, a position he enjoys. He has 10 catches for 150 yards and two scores. He is second to junior Walker Janicke is catches and receiving yards and tied for first in receiving TDs. In the first month, he delivered 41 tackles. As well, he already has four sacks this year.
"(Dad) expects a lot from me, and in return, he makes you better athlete," Keltz said.
After the game, Cheylin took a quick bus ride to the Golden Plains' gym and locker room to change. Keltz had a slight smile, while Razo wore a beaming grin and did a quick shimmy as he walked to the gym.
"It's nothing against anybody," Razo said. "We were just happy, and I just wanted to dance. I am the dancer of the team. They were like, 'Dance,' (and) I'm like, 'OK, fine.' "