Leopards' Keeley has another impressive game
By CONOR NICHOLL
La CROSSE -- La Crosse High School senior Kip Keeley is a straight-A student, one of the top football players and all-around athletes in northwest Kansas and a leader for the 12-0 Leopard team that is ranked No. 1 in Class 2-1A in the statewide media poll at 10-0.
The combination helped Keeley recently earn another honor: Wendy's High School Heisman finalist. Last year, La Crosse's Austin Webs was the state's Heisman boy winner. The award combines athletic achievement with grades, leadership and community service.
"The other day I was looking at all the kids who were the school winners, and the list went on and on," Keeley said. "I was looking at names and I recognized some of them. Those are kids with great character. Just to be mentioned on that list, let alone move on to the top 10 means a lot."
Keeley, the son of former La Crosse head coach and current defensive coordinator Bill Keeley, had another impressive game in a 35-6 first round playoff win against Brookville/Ell-Saline on Friday. Keeley rushed 16 times for 86 yards and a TD, caught four passes for 60 yards, had a sack and a batted pass on defense. dropped a punt to the Ell-Saline 5-yard line and collected a 21-yard punt return.
The sack came late in the third quarter and was on a classic Keeley play. Keeley ran straight through a wide open 'B' gap -- in between the guard and the tackle -- and immediately tackled the Ell-Saline quarterback for a 6-yard loss.
"He is savvy," said fourth-year coach Jon Webster a La Crosse graduate. "He has been around football for so long. I remember when he was little coming out to practice. He doesn't know anything but football. He is a football junkie and just sees the field well, and he sets up his blocks well. He is smart and just understands the game. It's just like having another coach on the field. He is just a tremendous young man even outside of the football atmosphere, and it's great to see kids like that succeed."
Another home game
Last year, La Crosse advanced to the first state title in school history and finished 12-1. However, the team had just four home games, seven road contests and two neutral site contests. In the playoffs, the Leopards had a first-round home game, then had to travel to Meade and Plainville before state.
That has changed this season. La Crosse had a new track and new facilities and will have its second home playoff game of the season Friday when they host Oakley (7-2) in the second round.
"New stadium and all, I was kind of hoping that we would get a couple home games," Kip Keeley said. "Bring the crowd in and let them experience it. (Last Friday) was really cool playing out there with the crowd, and the new lights and the new stadium and everything. It's just nice for the senior season to have another home game. It's going by fast so every chance I get to play in front of this home fans, it's awesome."