Zion Powell commits to play football at Bluefield State
By Chapin Jewell
KEYSER - As a sophomore and junior on the Keyser Golden Tornado football squad, Zion Powell had the opportunity to play in two high profile playoff games at the 10,000-seat historic Mitchell Stadium in Bluefield, West Virginia.
At 1:30 p.m. on Friday, in the large group room at Keyser High School, Powell will ink a deal that will ensure he’ll play in plenty more football games at Bluefield’s Mitchell Stadium as a member of the Bluefield State Big Blue football team.
It’s a golden opportunity for Powell, who will join the recently resurrected Bluefield State football program. Rich in history, Bluefield State was voted the Black college national champions in 1927 and 1928. The Big Blue, however, halted football operations in 1980. After a 41-year hiatus, they return to the gridiron and will compete at the Division II level.
Why did Powell choose Bluefield State? Well, to borrow a famous quote from the Godfather movies, they “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”
“The reason I picked Bluefield State is that they offered me something I couldn’t turn down. What I really like about the school is that I’ve been around Bluefield and the people and the community is just nice. The football program is brand new, which is something I’m looking forward to,” Powell stated.
At Bluefield State, in the classroom, Powell will study business, on the playing field; the Big Blue projects him to play safety on defense.
According to Keyser head football coach Derek Stephen, “Bluefield is getting a genuinely good person who plays with great emotion. His level of perseverance is second to none. Coming back from a dislocated elbow as a freshman to get to the level he is playing at shows that. They are also getting a person who is very likable and always brightens people’s day with his personality and demeanor.”
Powell earns high marks in the personality department for sure. But what kind of player is Bluefield State getting? According to Stephen, they are getting an all-around complete player who can contribute in multiple ways.
“They are getting a jack of all trades. Zion can do a little bit of everything. He can run the ball, catch it, return kicks, cover the other team’s best player, come up and tackle, and he can even punt it away as well,” Stephen explained.
According to Stephen, “As a younger player his speed was his biggest asset, however as he grew and got older he added some strength to go along with that speed. He is a very emotional player, and you can see that on the field. He is going to give you everything he has and be all in all the time.”
In his senior season at KHS, Powell contributed greatly to an explosive Golden Tornado offense that amassed 458 points in just nine games, an average of 51 points per outing. Powell averaged an impressive 8.47 yards per carry, rushing 78 times for 661 yards and six touchdowns. As a receiver, Powell scored an additional three touchdowns, earning 281 yards on 21 receptions.
But, that was just the offensive side of the ball. Zion Powell was a major contributor in all three phases of the game. Powell contributed greatly on defense and as far as special teams go, served as both the team’s punter and as a return man.
The football field is not the only arena in which Powell has so solidly represented Keyser High School. In addition to football, Powell competes very successfully for the KHS wrestling and track and field teams. Powell believes his work on the wrestling mat and in track and field, coupled with the way in which he’s dedicated himself in the weight room, will pay dividends as he moves into the next level.
“I’ve been lifting every day. I’ve talked to trainers and have been care of my body. Wrestling really helps me with my hands so I should transition very well,” Powell stated.
Derek Stephen agrees, “Zion’s work in the weight room to get his body in the right shape for college ball is something that he has taken very seriously.”
Stephen also credits Zion’s stepping up into a leadership role at KHS as something that will serve him well at the college level.
“Stepping up and taking on a leadership role, I feel was the biggest thing that he has done to prepare himself for college ball. For most of his career, he was the change-of-pace back, or put in to try and spark a big play, which he did quite often. But, when it was his turn to shine and come to the forefront, he took it and ran with it,” Stephen explained.
According to Stephen, “He stepped into that leadership role and didn’t shy away. It might not have been a role he wanted, but it was a role the team needed him to take.”
Just as Zion has contributed greatly to Keyser with his play on the field, mat and track, Powell credits Keyser High School for contributing greatly to his success and future plans.
“Keyser High School has done the most they could and still continue to support and help me. The teachers are absolutely amazing and have helped me so much. Keyser football and the whole staff are like family. They have pushed me to places I never thought I could go, and I want to thank them for that,” Zion stated.
As Powell looks towards graduation and the conclusion of his career at Keyser High School, he reflects upon his favorite memories and accomplishments.
“My favorite memory would have to be the Bridgeport game, my first carry I raced 77 yards trucking people for the touchdown. My favorite accomplishment would have to be the first Keyser player ever to score at Bridgeport and being named All-PVC running back and linebacker, in addition to being named All-State,” Powell stated.
In addition to reflecting on his favorite memories and accomplishments, Powell is quick to credit his friends and family for the support and encouragement they’ve given him throughout his journey.
“I’d have to say my friends and family, Drae (Allen), Vito (Amoruso), Kayden (Avona), Caden (Biser), Hunter (Van Pelt), Gavin (Root). I really have a lot of people to thank, I can’t list them all, but if you’re my friend, thank you. But my mom and Coach (Scott) Furey have been there from the start,” Powell detailed.
Zion Powell has electrified Keyser crowds for years with his dynamic and explosive style of play. Be it a long run full of jukes, an exciting pass reception, a tightrope kick return for a touchdown, or blowing somebody up on defense, he has been a crowd pleaser and more importantly a gigantic contributor play after play.
Powell’s success is one-part talent and one-part hard work. He’ll now carry his talent and work ethic to Bluefield State and at the perfect time, year one of the resumption of their football program. The Big Blue is gaining a great person and player.