High School: Keller

A year has passed, but not much has changed in the North Texas softball landscape.

Plano again enters the playoffs highly ranked nationally and a favorite to return to Austin to contend for a 5A state title. For its players, Friday’s bi-district opener against Denton Guyer couldn’t come any sooner after last season’s loss in the state semifinals.

“They’re so excited to finally get to the playoffs after such a hard district, finally getting to the playoff part,” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said.

The opening rounds of the playoffs could easily be thought as a brief reprieve from the gauntlet the team faced through district play, which included the area’s other highly ranked team, Plano East.

Plano didn’t run away with a district title this season as it did in 2011. It fell twice to Plano East, surrendering the championship to their cross-town rivals by heads-up tiebreaker. All but two of their District 8-5A competitors finished above .500.

However, there will be little time for Plano to catch its breath, with one of the toughest roads to state ahead of them. Denton Guyer finished third in District 7-5A behind strong competitors Keller and Keller Central.

If Plano pushes on to the area round, it could face ESPN Fab 50 No. 35 Mansfield Legacy, then Fab 50 honorable mention Keller in the third round.

“Our region, the North Texas region, in the last three or four years has really stepped up our game,” Zea said. “It used to be just he Houstons and the Austins. Now, I think softball is so strong that definitely someone from our region is going to Austin to represent us well. We just hope it’s us.”

Plano East has a slightly easier path through the introductory rounds of the playoffs, with District 7-5A runner-up Keller Central not an option until the third round.

In 4A, District 9-4A champion Frisco Wakeland could be a serious threat to make a long district run through a majority of Dallas ISD schools, with third-place finisher Frisco as a challenge in the third round. Wakeland took the season series from Frisco, winning 11-6 and 12-0.

Regardless of the district, what every coach has to deal with is a new set of challenges presented from teams across the state.

“They present a whole different set of challenges, but our girls just have to get up there hit the ball and play good defense and we’ll be fine,” Zea said.

Jones' 27 leads MacArthur girls into third round

February, 17, 2012
COLLEYVILLE, Texas -- There’s an element of danger for Alexis Jones’ basketball teammates at Irving MacArthur.

Jones’ bullet passes often catch unsuspecting teammates by surprise. Embarrassment can be only a part of the price to pay.

Her fellow Lady Cardinals couldn’t handle a few potential assists Friday night, but it was no concern as MacArthur breezed to a 64-47 victory over Keller in a Class 5A Region I area-round playoff at Colleyville Heritage.

Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
Jones, a Duke signee rated the No. 3 senior in the nation by ESPNU Hoop Gurlz, led the defending Class 5A state champions in points (27) and rebounds (nine).

“We have to be aware of Alexis passes at all times,’’ said backcourt mate Ayriel Anderson (17 points), a teammate of Jones since eighth grade. “Sometimes her passes are hard to catch with all the spin she puts on it. But that's no excuse for missing one. They are usually right on target.’’

Jones, a left-handed 5-foot-9 point guard, topped her 24-point season average by hitting 8-of-20 field goals (including four 3-pointers) and 7-of-10 free throws.

“If she’s not the best guard in the country, I’d like to see the best,’’ said Keller coach Doug Sporrer. “She can shoot the 3 and she’s quick enough to go past a defender. Most can do one or the other, but not both. That’s why they’re the defending state champs.’’

MacArthur (33-2), No. 1 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A Top 10 and No. 13 nationally in the POWERADE FAB 50, extended a press to force 13 Keller turnovers and build an 18-point halftime lead.

“We tried to get out fast and get a lead because we knew they could shoot the 3s,’’ said Anderson.

“Three-pointers are Keller’s game, and we had to be aware of a couple of their shooters,’’ MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel said. “I thought we played some pretty good defense.’’

Keller (27-7), the District 7-5A co-champion, managed to hit four 3-pointers in the first half, but only three 2-point field goals.

Credit Keller, which picked up the program’s first playoff victory since 1999 in the bi-district round, for keeping the deficit inside 20 points for the game’s final 10 minutes.

“I’m proud of the way we battled in the second half,’’ said Keller’s Sporrer.

Taylor Vincent, a 5-foot-10 senior, led Keller with 20 points. Lindsey Miner, a 5-foot-7 senior, chipped in with 11.

MacArthur’s victory sets up a No. 1 vs. No. 3 third-round playoff meeting against Plano West (34-2). The game is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday at Hebron.

The teams have met once, with the Lady Cardinals defeating Plano West, 56-51, in a tournament game on Nov. 19.
COPPELL, Texas -- The Keller girls basketball team rode the hot scoring touch of Taylor Vincent into the area round of the 5A playoffs on Monday night.

Vincent scored a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, to help Keller knock down Plano East, 67-59, in the bi-district matchup at Coppell.

Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
Keller (27-6) hit 14 from 3-point range, which were huge keys to its two big runs.

"I don't know how you could shoot it much better," Keller coach Doug Sporrer said. "She's shooting 42 percent on the year. It's amazing. Taylor does a great job and she's had a really steady year so we couldn't be happier with her."

The first run came in the third quarter when Keller strung together several baskets, many coming off Plano East turnovers, to form a 10-2 run. Two free throws off a technical foul assessed to Plano East's assistant coach were also a part of that run.

Keller then put together a 9-1 run during the first half of the fourth quarter, sparked by Vincent's final 3 of the night.

Coming into Monday, Keller had hit 12 3's as a team in its last two games of the regular season.

"We know we have to shoot it well and we spend almost half of practice shooting the ball," Sporrer said. "Sometimes it falls and sometimes they don't, but when they fall, we're a pretty tough team to beat."

Plano East (23-12) pushed its press to the limit in the final two minutes of the game, creating a 10-0 run of its own, but ran out of time before a true comeback could take shape.

Sporrer said it was his team's goal to raise a banner after this season ended. Keller already has two banners won for a co-district championship with Southlake Carroll and a bi-district win.

It was Keller's first bi-district win in girls basketball since 1999 and first district championship since before 1987.

Now, Keller has the daunting task of potentially facing ESPNDallas.com No. 1 Irving MacArthur in the area round if MacArthur advances past Mansfield on Tuesday.

"Play the number one team in the state -- what do you have to lose?" Sporrer said.

2nd-half swoons a trend for Southlake Carroll

October, 3, 2011
Play in the second half has been an issue lately for Southlake Carroll.

The Dragons (5-0, 2-0 in District 7-5A) have been outscored 27-3 after the break in their last three games, including two games where they nearly coughed up huge halftime leads.

Against Keller Fossil Ridge two weeks ago, Carroll led 28-13 going into the third quarter but escaped with the win only by virtue of a failed two-point conversion attempt by the Panthers late in the fourth quarter. Carroll won, 28-26.

It happened again last week against Keller. The Dragons held a 26-7 halftime lead but let the Indians back in the game before surviving with a 26-21 win.

Even with the eye-raising almost-collapses, Carroll is in good position to challenge for the 7-5A title. The Dragons are tied for first place with Denton Guyer and Keller Central and control their own destiny with games against their co-leaders and Coppell ahead of them.

But Guyer may have assumed front-runner status with its 31-7 mauling of Coppell last week, a brutal game for the Cowboys that left starting quarterback Jake Larson on crutches. Carroll closes the regular season at Guyer.

The Dragons play at Justin Northwest on Friday.

District 7-5A football season preview

August, 18, 2011
  • Coppell (13-1, 7-0), lost in DI regional finals. Coach: Joe McBride.
  • Denton Guyer (13-3, 6-1), lost in 5A DII state title game. Coach: John Walsh.
  • Justin Northwest (4-7, 3-4), lost in DI bi-district. Coach: Bill Patterson.
  • Keller (3-7, 2-5). Coach: Kevin Atkinson.
  • Keller Central (5-5, 3-4). Coach: Bart Helsley.
  • Keller Fossil Ridge (2-8, 2-5). Coach: Tony Baccarini.
  • Saginaw (0-10, 0-7). Coach: Mike Peters.
  • Southlake Carroll (10-4, 5-2) lost in DII regional finals. Coach: Hal Wasson.
THE BIG QUESTION: Can Denton Guyer reload after graduating so many leaders?

Denton Guyer won one game in its first two years of varsity play. That was before the class of 2011 made its impact.

Led by QB J.W. Walsh, the outgoing seniors had Guyer competing for a state title on both the 4A and 5A levels for three years. Now that they're gone, observers are justifiably skeptical of Guyer's ability to reload.

But the notoriously confident Wildcats have no doubts. Coach John Walsh has built a program that he believes will contend for years to come, with a little help from a talent pool in the city of Denton that has produced an annual title contender in Denton Ryan.

The 2011 season will go a long way toward projecting Guyer's long-term outlook. With just seven starters returning from a team that came a scoring drive short of winning the 5A Division II title, the Wildcats need their next group of leaders to emerge.

Sophomore Jerrod Heard takes over for J.W. Walsh under center. While he certainly won't have the symbiotic relationship with Guyer's offense that the head coach's son had, Heard may be an even better athlete.

And plenty of Division I talent returns to help him. WR Conner Crane, a Stanford commit, gives Heard a top-flight target. Sebastian Williams leads a deep group of RBs. And Guyer's defensive front should be as nasty as ever with DE Dan Kottman, LB Dominic Ramacher and DT Cody Hennessee returning.


QB Jake Larson, RB Gavin McDaniel, DB David Busby, Coppell; WR Allen Young, QB Draze Lawliss, DL Dominic Stewart, Justin Northwest; LB Chandler Watkins, QB Davis Webb, WR Cameron Martin, Keller; OL Simon Goines, DB Zach Sanchez, QB Tanner Tausch, Keller Central; DT Aaron Curry, QB Sheldon Nuese, WR Adonis Ramos, Keller Fossil Ridge; QB Kyle Webb, WR Eddie Nuno, OL Peter Lopez, Saginaw; QB Kenny Hill, LB Will Davis, WR Peyton Williams, Southlake Carroll.


Head coach Bill Patterson guided Northwest to the playoffs just one year after the team went winless. ... Saginaw didn't fare as well as Guyer did in its first year in 5A. The Roughriders didn't win a game in 2010. ... Guyer wasn't the only Denton team to lose in a state title game. Denton Ryan fell to Austin Lake Travis in 4A DI.

  1. Southlake Carroll
  2. Coppell
  3. Denton Guyer
  4. Justin Northwest

Rangers draft three area high school products

June, 8, 2011
The MLB draft wrapped up with rounds 31-50 on Wednesday, and the Rangers wound up taking three products of Dallas-area high schools.

The Rangers selected right-handed pitcher Nicholas Sawyer on Tuesday in the 29th round. Sawyer graduated from Hebron High School in 2010 and spent the last year at Howard College in Big Spring, Texas.

Right-hander Kaleb Merck, a Keller High product who pitched the last two years at TCU, was the Rangers' 43rd-round pick.

In the 45th round, the Rangers selected Fort Worth Southwest lefty Brandon Finnegan, who is committed to TCU.
DENTON, Texas -- The bottom of the order for the Plano softball team came up huge in a 5-4 victory over Keller in Game 1 of its best-of-three regional final Thursday night at Pioneer Field at Texas Woman’s University.

Down 3-0 going into the top of the fourth, Plano rallied for a five runs with two outs, four of which came from Plano’s 6-9 hitters.

Plano began the inning with two singles from six and seven-hole hitters Jill Holub and Tori Seasor, followed by a dropped pop fly off the bat of Katie Hart that allowed a run to score.

The last hitter in Plano’s lineup, left fielder Chelsea Sartor, stepped in and drilled a liner back up the middle to score Seasor from second.

“I knew it was our time and we had two outs and we hadn’t scored the first three innings and we need a rally going,” Sartor said. “I did what I could and I laid off the outside pitches and did what I could to get the single.”

Leadoff hitter Kristen Miles kept the rally going with a single past diving Keller shortstop Carly Allerheiligen. The seeing-eye single scored Sartor from second.

Plano was given what would be the game-winning run on an error at second off the bat of third baseman Erin Lowell. The grounder took a long second hop that could not be controlled by Keller second baseman Azia Branson, scoring Miles from second.

Keller pitcher Katie Ramsay was hit for all five of the Plano runs, none of which were earned, and picked up the loss.

Plano head coach Cynthia Zea said her team is fond of the middle innings, after everyone has seen the opposing pitcher's stuff at least once. Zea also said she appreciated the work of the men in blue Thursday night.

“We had great umps tonight that if it was a strike, we didn’t have any crazy strike zones,” Zea said. “So they knew that they could wait on a strike and I could hit the ball, and that makes you a lot more comfortable as a hitter.”

Plano starter Katherine Batey didn’t quite live up to her coach’s nickname of “Ice” Thursday, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on 11 hits with no strikeouts, but she did what she needed to get the job done after nursing a sore arm this week, Zea said.

“She didn’t get her normal rotation of practice like she normally does,” Zea said. “So really tonight was the first night where she got going again. It was good to get her back in rhythm and still come away with the win because I think she’ll be stronger tomorrow than she was today.”

No matter who might struggle in Plano’s lineup, Zea said she believes her team’s biggest strength is picking each other up.

“That’s what’s great about this team, we don’t have a superstar. We have nine kids that, any night, one could pick up the top [of the order],” Zea said. “The top could do well and then next night the bottom could do well. That’s what I think makes this team so hard to beat.”

Plano now has the chance to take the series and punch its first ticket to Austin in school history Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Texas Woman’s University. Game 3, if necessary, is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m. at TWU.


Softball: Regional final playoff results

May, 22, 2011
Regional final softball results for Regions I and II.

Previous round results: Bi-district | Area round | Region quarters | Region semis

  • The Woodlands d. Tomball (2-1 series)
    1. The Woodlands 5, Tomball 3
    2. Tomball 9, The Woodlands 8
    3. The Woodlands 9, Tomball 7
  • Waco Midway d. Burleson (2-0 series)
    1. Midway 2, Burleson 0
    2. Midway 4, Burleson 0
  • Celina d. Lucas Lovejoy (2-0 series)
    1. Celina 10, Lovejoy 6
    2. Celina 7, Lovejoy 6

Hockey players suspended for roles in brawl

April, 14, 2011
The Texas Amateur Hockey Association issued suspensions to Keller's Braxton Mills and Arlington Martin's Jeff SoRelle for their roles in a brawl during the Silver Division state championship match last month.

TAHA suspended Mills from all USA Hockey activities for two-and-a-half years, while SoRelle is banned for two years. Both high school seniors have until April 24 to appeal the decision, and the suspensions may be reviewed after one year upon application for reinstatement.

The suspensions stem from an ugly altercation toward the end of the championship match March 27 at Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch. Keller won in a blowout, 9-3.

An elbow penalty by Martin's Blaine Key along the end boards turned into a mass of players pushing and shoving. SoRelle came out of the penalty box to lay a blindside hit on a Keller player against the boards.

SoRelle was then punched by Mills -- who skated full speed from the other side of the rink -- and suffered a concussion and a broken jaw. Mills had been sent off the ice earlier in the game and re-entered to issue the retaliation, AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League commissioner David Ambler said.

The emotions involved with a 9-3 Keller blowout in the Texas Amateur Hockey Association Silver Division state title game Sunday got the best of players for both Keller and Arlington Martin, resulting in an ugly altercation in the last minute of the game.

An elbow penalty by Martin’s Blaine Key along the end boards at Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch turned into a mass of players pushing and shoving. An Arlington Martin player, Jeff SoRelle, came out of the penalty box to lay a hard, blindside hit on a Keller player against the boards.

SoRelle was then punched by a Keller player, Braxton Mills, who skated full speed from the other side of the rink. Mills had been sent off the ice earlier in the game and re-entered the rink to issue the retaliation, AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League commissioner David Ambler said.

“Nonetheless, there wasn’t a whole lot that went on after that,” Ambler said. “I think everyone was kind of in shock of everything there. Things seemed to be calmed down quickly after that. The referees were doing their job. Security was trying to keep things down on the fan/spectator side.”

Both coaches did a good job keeping the players that were on the team benches from entering the ice once the altercation began, Keller hockey club president Kevin Wicks said.

SoRelle and Mills are seniors and have been suspended from all USA Hockey-sanctioned events until an April 5 hearing is held, Ambler said. Any sanctions on the coaches or clubs will be handed down after a ruling has been made by the state committee at the April 5 hearing.

Keller finished the regular season as the third least penalized team in the Metroplex and Mills had only taken three minor penalties throughout the course of the season. Martin, on the other hand, finished the most penalized team in the area. SoRelle had only tallied eight penalty minutes in the regular season.

Fighting in Metroplex high school hockey is very atypical and Keller had not had one player suspended throughout the season due to a fighting major, Wicks said.

“It’s unfortunate that our first ever state championship is being overshadowed by this incident. However, I understand, due to the nature of the incident and the fact that there is pretty graphic video, that it’s natural people will want to know what happened,” Wicks said.

Martin team officials could not be reached for comment.

Both school districts declined to comment on the incident because the hockey teams are clubs not affiliated with the school districts. High school hockey in Texas is not a UIL-sanctioned sport.

“Since it is so unusual for this type of incident to happen, I think they’re all just trying to get through it and hope that it dies down and when we have our year-end banquet in a month they’ll be able to really celebrate it then,” Wicks said.
Southlake Carroll head coach Teri Morrison makes no secret of her team’s goal of getting past the area round of the playoffs this year.

The Lady Dragons have been bumped in the second round the last three years.

But they don’t talk about it. The team addressed it at the beginning of the year and has since focused on the game or practice at hand.

So far, that approach has worked as Carroll (22-5, 8-0) has a 2 1/2-game lead on the rest of District 7-5A.

“You want to focus on the next game,” Morrison said. “You take care of that area round in the offseason. We focused on the offseason on the what we could do as a team versus the teams that knock us out.”

Led by its quickness on the perimeter, Carroll's defense is holding teams to less than 40 points per game. Offensively, Carroll uses a balanced attack with Kayla Reinhart (11 points per game), Janelle Jenkins (9.6) and Sierra Maykus (9.2) leading the way.

Part of Carroll’s problem getting out of the second round has been matchups with 5-5A and 6-5A –- two of the best girls basketball districts in the state.

It’s no different this year. Should Carroll win 7-5A and make it to area, any number of state powerhouses could be its opponent, including Duncanville, Mansfield Timberview, Cedar Hill, Irving MacArthur, Colleyville Heritage and Euless Trinity, which has beaten Carroll twice already this year.

“What our district looks like and what happens in the postseason is completely different,” Morrison said. “We have to focus on what we can to be that type of team to get past that second round. I love being in the best region in the state.”

Carroll plays at second-place Keller on Friday.

Five teams bunched up at top of District 7-5A

January, 12, 2011
There are plenty of contenders for the District 7-5A title, but a favorite has yet to emerge.

Coppell (17-6), Keller Fossil Ridge (13-6) and Southlake Carroll (13-8) are tied for first with a 3-1 district record, with Justin Northwest (18-5) and Keller Central (12-11) a game back at at 2-2.

The logjam at the top was created in part by struggling teams at the bottom. Keller, Saginaw and Denton Guyer have combined for just two district wins.

If not for a blown lead against Carroll, Coppell would be in sole possession of first, having beaten Fossil Ridge and Northwest. Northwest knocked Coppell out of the playoffs in 2010.

Northwest beat Carroll but fell out of a tie for first after a 50-32 loss to Central on Tuesday.

Carroll and Fossil Ridge look like strong contenders to return to the playoffs after missing out on the postseason in 2010.

Carroll is getting it done with defense, giving up just 51 points per game. Guard William Brown leads the Dragons in scoring with 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Max Berman averages 12 points per game, while Grant Jolly adds 10 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

Coppell hosts Keller Central on Friday, Northwest hosts Saginaw, Carroll hosts Guyer and Fossil Ridge hosts Keller.
KELLER, Texas – Coppell running back Cam McDaniel picked a flat team up on his shoulders, and the playoff-bound Cowboys ran over Keller on Thursday, 56-16, to remain unbeaten.

McDaniel scored five touchdowns for the Cowboys, one on an 80-yard punt return at the beginning of the second quarter. He rushed 20 times for 265 yards and four touchdowns.

[+] EnlargeCoppell High School's Cam McDaniel
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comCoppell running back Cam McDaniel rushed for four touchdowns and scored another time on an 80-yard punt return.
“[McDaniel is] a beast,” Coppell head coach Joe McBride said. "He’s a great player. Cam is passionate. He comes out here with crazy passion and we lean on him hard to do what he does.”

Coppell (9-0, 6-0 District 7-5A), No. 2 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A area rankings, followed the punt return by recovering an onside kick. McDaniel scored on a 37-yard run on the first play after the recovery, bringing the score to 14-0.

Keller (2-7, 1-5) found the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a very weird 54-yard touchdown catch by Paul Poyser. Flags flew as the ball was snapped and the Coppell defense stood in place, apparently believing the call was against Keller. The Indians kept with the play, as Poyser caught the pass and ran up the sideline for the score. Keller declined the penalty on the confused Cowboys, and it was 14-6 after a failed two-point try.

McDaniel got the last word of the half, scoring on a 21-yard run with only 25 seconds remaining.

A passionate halftime speech from McBride got his players into gear, and the Cowboys never looked back in the second half.

“You can’t take this game for granted," McBride said. "You just can’t walk out here and think people are going to let you just win.”

McDaniel responded to McBride's halftime speech by scoring on 20- and 49-yard runs in the fourth quarter.

“Well, we got our tails chewed out,” McDaniel said. “We’ve got a head coach that’s committed to winning. And our team's committed to winning for the most part. We just came out a little flat tonight, not as motivated as we usually are. Not because Keller is not a good football team. Maybe it was a Thursday game or having school tomorrow, but we definitely looked flat.”

Coppell backup quarterback Tyler Landis made his mark on the game, scoring on a 33-yard run with 3:16 left in the fourth.

Keller was able to score two more times in the game on a short-yardage field goal and a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Tyler Park.

With one game left for the Cowboys in the regular season, McDaniel and his teammates have only one goal in mind.

“We want to be undefeated,” McDaniel said. “No Coppell team has been undefeated outright district champion. We expect to win every game we go into, and we’re just ready to go.”

Keller could be trap for undefeated Coppell

October, 27, 2010
Before the season started, Coppell head coach Joe McBride said his team was struggling to find an identity.

Now, the Cowboys (8-0, 5-0 District 7-5A) sit at No. 2 in the ESPNDallas.com Class 5A top 10 thanks to one of the area’s best defenses.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Mullins
Travis L. BrownLinebacker Brandon Mullins leads a Coppell defense that is holding opponents to fewer than 10 points a game.
That defense-first mentality began last season for the Cowboys, and McBride said he made sure to emphasize to his players this season that they will be a defense-minded squad again this year.

“We told them, ‘You’ve got to keep it up,’” McBride said. “We’re going to win championships with defense. I don’t want to be one of those teams that wins 56-54 and all that stuff. We are going to play good defense.”

Coppell has held opponents to 277.9 yards and 9.4 points per game.

Defensive back Bennet Okoktcha, a Wisconsin recruit, and linebacker Brandon Mullins, who has committed to Syracuse, lead the defense.

“The real key to being successful is being disciplined, playing right and everyone playing as a group, and if we do that we’re able to be successful,” said Mullins, who has scored two touchdowns this season.

Coppell’s perfect record will be put to the test against Keller (2-6, 1-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Keller ISD Athletic Complex. McBride said Keller has everything in place to make this a trap game if his team does not come out ready.

“They’re probably the best team that has struggled in the win category that I’ve seen,” McBride said. “They really do a lot of stuff well. They have a lot of linemen returning. Offensively they're pretty potent and defensively they play disciplined. So they just scare you.”

That Keller offense is run by dual-threat quarterback in Tyler Park. Park has thrown for 1,364 yards and nine touchdowns and leads the team in rushing yards with 200 and has two touchdowns on the ground.

Park can check to two big-play receivers in Cameron Martin and Reed Cheatham, who each have more than 500 yards receiving and have combined for eight touchdown catches.

The Keller defense, which has allowed an average of 185.5 yards rushing per game, will have its hands full with Coppell running back Cam McDaniel. McDaniel has rushed for 1,186 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Keller Central is on track to make the playoffs for the first time in school history out of a top-heavy District 7-5A.

Key wins over Keller and Keller Fossil Ridge have allowed Central (5-2, 3-1) to surface to fourth place in 7-5A behind Coppell, Denton Guyer and Southlake Carroll.

Central still has to play Coppell and Carroll, but with just three games remaining and a two-game lead on the rest of the district, a win over Justin Northwest in two weeks would likely clinch it for the Chargers.

Improved play on offense is a big reason why Central has already surpassed its highest single-season win total. The Chargers average more than a touchdown per game more than they did in 2009.

Running back C.J. Kirk has 856 yards and 11 touchdowns on the year. Quarterback Tanner Tausch, who took over under center with three games left in 2009, has provided some stability at the position, throwing for 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“Our kids are motivated to try to get someplace we’ve never been before,” said Bart Helsley, Central's head coach since the team’s inaugural season in 2004. “You always hope there’s a good chemistry with the kids. We started to see some of that in the spring and the summer and felt pretty good about it and knew it was one of the most important things for us to be better, to have good team chemistry.”

Central plays at Carroll on Friday.