MOMENTUM: Keys gearing up for 2021 after strong finish last year

·3 min read

Jun. 10—Keys had plenty of momentum going into the football offseason.

The Cougars won three of their final five games, including a pair of playoff games, under first-year head coach Adam Hass in 2020.

"When our season ended I kind of expected a little bit of a hangover, but to my surprise it was different from that," Hass said. "Whenever we came back from Christmas, everybody was already amped up for 2021. It's carried over through spring and now in the summer."

The Cougars started summer activities Tuesday in a 7-on-7 passing league at Stilwell that also included Westville.

Hass didn't have a good beginning after his hire. COVID-19 hit and ended any standard offseason. There wasn't a spring and there wasn't a passing league.

"We've had a good offseason up to this point," Hass said. "I think having an offseason this time is going to be big time for us. Spring ball was big for us. We're obviously ahead of where we were last year because we didn't get this opportunity a year ago. We're super excited about where we are, and hopefully we can build on it."

Hass has a lot of experience returning in year two after guiding Keys to a 5-8 overall record last season. The Cougars knocked out Hugo and Cascia Hall in the playoffs before having their season come to an end in a 52-14 loss to Beggs.

The Cougars return two of their top three rushers on offense in running back fullback Colby Nottingham and quarterback Lane Taylor. Nottingham rushed for 559 yards and had six touchdowns, and Taylor had a team-high eight rushing TDs and 518 yards.

Taylor, who will benefit from a passing league, completed 61 passes for 550 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions as a junior.

"Lane is a big part of a strong senior class we will have this year," Hass said. "Nobody's going to outwork him. He's a true competitor and he's been putting in the work this offseason."

Senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Parker Sinclair has impressed Hass throughout the offseason.

"Parker's been training hard and has broken two school records in the power clean and 40-yard dash for a big guy," Hass said.

The top returnees on defense include Austin Davis, Levi Troyer, Garrett Glory, Cooper Hamilton, Tyler Petree and Drew Morgans. Davis led the team with 62 tackles in 2020. Troyer followed with 54 tackles, and Hamilton posted 42 tackles and led the team with four interceptions.

"We have a good senior class this year," Hass said. "We've got a whole bunch of kids who have really progressed and we've got some young kids who are going to step up as they get more reps. We've still got some youth. Our freshman class last year has some decent size, so we have some guys. We just need to keep progressing.

"Having spring ball and being involved in a passing league is going to help us progress. Now, we're in a situation where we're going to be able to do some different things that we just couldn't do last year. We're going to be able to add some things or tweak some things on both offense and defense."

Hass has two new assistant coaches in offensive coordinator Justin Brown and Josh Harrington. Brown was previously the head coach at Salina, and Harrington, who will coach outside linebackers and H-backs, comes over from Bristow.

The Cougars will have four more passing league sessions before getting ready for fall camp in August.