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Keyser focusing on finishing in practice and games after 5-5 season

KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser’s ten-year streak of playoff appearances came to an end last fall when the Golden Tornado finished at 5-5. KHS posted wins over playoff teams in RCB and Moorefield. But a two-point loss to Class AA No. 3 seed Point Pleasant and an overtime loss to county rival Frankfort kept Keyser outside the top sixteen. Head coach Derek Stephen says a main focus in training camp is to complete every task in the hopes for better results late in games.

“We’ve got to be able to finish drives, to finish blocks and to finish games,” Stephen said. “One of our main things this year is to finish. That’s the big thing we are going to work on this year is finishing everything, whether it be a snap, a drive, a run, a block, whatever it be. We are going to work on finishing for sure.”

Several veterans and multi-year starters return for the Golden Tornado. Senior Gabe Ryan led the team in tackles last fall.

“He gives you a guy on the line that isn’t afraid of anybody and isn’t going to back down from anybody. He brings a presence not only on the field but in the locker room and in the weight room. He commands everybody to give their best.”

Fellow senior Caden Youngblood finished second in stops and he is expected to provide leadership in the middle of the Keyser defense.

“He’s another one, another senior leader. He is one of the smartest kids. I think he scored a 1,300-something on his SATs. He’s a smart, bright kid. He is able to read plays and diagnose plays a little quicker than some of the others.”

Quarterback Seth Healy returns to lead Keyser’s traditional run-heavy offense. He accounted for eight total touchdowns in 2021.

“He played a little quarterback for us last year but he helps us more on the defensive side. He comes through and again, he is a multi-year starter. He has been here through the ups and the downs. He has seen what we are capable of doing. He is another one that has picked right up and is helping lead the team.”

Stephen has posted a 12-7 record in his two seasons since taking over for Sean Biser. Keyser has one of the largest rosters in the state for a Class AA team with over sixty players in camp.

“I think we have 62, 63 out this year, which is about 10 to 12 more than we had last year. The numbers are slowly coming up. What we are going to try to do is build on the hundred-plus years of Keyser football, keep the numbers up and keep the tradition going.”

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