KEYSER- Go ahead. Print out your 2017 West Virginia AA Football Championship brackets. Sharpen your pencil and write in Keyser Golden Tornado. In 2017, Keyser once again will be a major threat to take home the AA State Championship.
How can I be so confident to make a statement that bold? Simple, Keyser has been in the playoffs every year since 2010.
From the first time I set foot on Alumni Field, I could tell this football squad is good. It doesn’t matter whether you are evaluating High School football in West Virginia, Kalamazoo, or Timbuktu, I guarantee the football teams that compete for a state championship have a blend of these three things:
1) Good Coaching
2) Physical Play
Lets go through the checklist.
1) Does Keyser have a good coaching staff in place?
Absolutely. Head Coach Sean Biser is entering his 14th season at the helm of Keyser’s football program. A graduate from Keyser High School in 1988, Sean has built a powerhouse with his current record standing at 102-49.
With an impressive record to his credit, Sean Biser has assembled a remarkable coaching staff that clearly shows continuity within the program.
Shannon Biser, a member of Keyser’s Hall of Fame, has coached the black and gold with his brother for the past 14 years.
A 1996 Keyser graduate, Corey Shumaker enters his 18th season on the coaching staff having played football for the Golden Tornado.
Derek Stephen played on Biser’s first team at Keyser, and now he is entering his 9th season as a coach and his 5th year as defensive coordinator.
Mike Staggers is a detailed tactician coaching the offense and defensive lines. Mike also played on Biser’s first Keyser team as he enters his 8th year of coaching.
Jermaine Taylor moved to Keyser from Virginia to play for Potomac State. Taylor now enters his 7th year on the Keyser coaching staff teaching running backs, wide receivers, and linebackers.
Logan DelSignore is going on his 4th year coaching the student athletes of Keyser, having played for Biser in 2008 and 2009.
Kris Steckman also enters his 4th season on staff, while Denver Riggleman enters his 3rd year coaching the Tornado. Coaching: CHECK.
2) Does Keyser play physical? The short answer: Yes. I believe this team is defined by its physical play. Here are 3 words to describe the identity of this football team; Physical, Smart, and Disciplined. The scrimmage against Spring Mills offered a small glimpse and some indication of the physical pressure the Golden Tornado can launch on opponents this season.
Physical Play: CHECK.
3) Does Keyser have experience at key positions?
I believe they do. In football, typically the team that dominates the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball will be the team celebrating a win after the game. With that said, its hard to win any games without a competent Quarterback, just ask the Cleveland Browns.
For the Golden Tornado, Brady Ours returns at QB for his senior season. Its hard to miss #40 on the football field given his incredible speed, 6’2 frame, cannon arm, and the long flowing brown hair that spills out the back of his helmet.
In addition to having full knowledge of the offense, Brady Ours is excellent on the defensive side of the football as well. Recently Ours was named to the West Virginia MetroNews First Team All-State preseason team as a DB. An experienced QB with leadership qualities is considered a luxury for any football program, consider Keyser spoiled because they have elite experience at QB and in the secondary as well.
RB Christian Ravenscroft has some experience toting the rock and defensively he will provide senior leadership for a talented bunch of linebackers.
WR/DB Reggie Redman can stretch the field as a deep threat while defensively having the ability to pull off the rare pick 6 at any time.
Senior Tackle Ryan Spencer will anchor the offensive line while senior Marcus Crowl will line up as a TE on offense and DE on defense.
Joining Crowl on the Defensive Line will be senior DT Steven “Scooba” White.
The Golden Tornado special teams will feature senior Kicker Jose Torres, who also plays on the Keyser soccer team.
Recently I sat down with Head Coach Sean Biser to discuss several football related topics about the upcoming season. Here are some highlights of our conversation.
Coach Sean Biser is committed to making sure his players succeed in the classroom as well as on the football field. “If a student athlete is in danger of not making the grades, we make sure to do academic checks on those players who might be in danger of dropping below the 2.0 GPA standard set forth by the rules committee in the state of West Virginia.”
Coach Biser knows a thing or two about the WVSSAC rules and regulations as he currently serves as a member on the Football Committee.
Although a 2.0 GPA is the minimum requirement to remain eligible Coach Biser elaborated on the policy at Keyser, “I have established a 2.5 GPA and below list, and anybody who is on that list, I check grades routinely.”
Academics are probably not often a topic of conversation in a high school football preview, however, having rigorous standards in place can directly impact a football team.
For example, Keyser has several potential student athletes that are not going to have the opportunity to wear the K on the side of their helmets because of academics.
Coach Biser elaborated on the situation, “This year we lost 6 freshman players due to grades and 6 other players for a total of 12 kids. Those numbers really start to add up when you are working with a roster of only 50 kids.”
Goals for 2017
When sports reporters ask questions of football coaches often times they get generic Coach-Speak answers.
However, when I asked Head Coach Sean Biser about season goals, he was not afraid to lay it on the line with a clear and concise statement, “The number one goal I set for our football team every year is to win the State Championship. I don’t care if you were 10-0 last year or 0-10, in my opinion the goal should remain the same; win the State Championship.”
Coach Biser went into further details to explain, “Obviously there are many things that go into accomplishing that goal, you have to have some talent, you have to have some athletes committed to getting better, and you have to have some luck. I’ve never done anything to finish in 2nd place. When I am committed to doing something, I want to finish in 1st place.”
So what is the key to accomplishing the goal of a state championship? “My players know you better come to work everyday. When you come to work everyday, you get better everyday. My thing is this; when you leave work today, you should be just a little bit better than you were yesterday.”
While finishing in first place will be determined months from now, the luck factor is one that is often overlooked.
Simply put, luck is often related to injuries, and injuries can determine the outcome of a season.
Led by Head Trainer Chuck Barrick, Keyser has an excellent training staff which is prepared to handle bumps, bruises, pulls, aches, cuts, and cramps with tape, ice, pads, band aids, water and multiple stretching routines.
Unfortunately there is no quick fix for a player who suffers a season ending injury.
Projection: For the Golden Tornado to achieve their stated goal and win the AA West Virginia State Championship, the injury/luck factor will need to be on their side this season.