Playoff run gives Klein high hopes
By L. SCOTT HAINLINE
Klein transformed a 4-3 tied-for-second-place finish in District 13-5A into a berth in the Division II state semifinals last season, and the Bearkats believe they can do even better under new coach Shane Hallmark.
It is a challenge to be a senior and play for a new coach, and in a new system, but it's a good challenge," quarterback Michael Edel said. Coach Hallmark and I are on the same page, along with the entire team, and the goal is to be playing in December for a state championship.
Sometimes, when a new coach takes over, it takes a while to win, but that's not the case with coach Hallmark. He's come right in ready to win, and anything less than playing for a state title will be a disappointment."
Edel, who had always been a quarterback before spending most of last season as a wide out and cornerback, continues to settle back in under center.
It feels great," he said. Everything is coming back to me, and every day I get more and more into a rhythm."
Making it even easier is offensive line returning starters Thomas Yetter and Parker Simmons, and talented newcomers up front in Taylor Sims, Adam West, Max McGinley and Joey Reistroffer.
The big guys run the offense," Edel said. They are the most important part of making everything happen."
Hallmark, who left a successful Hightower program to take over at Klein, is in complete agreement.
The offensive line may be our strongest position," he said. We have good depth up there and some really good players."
One of Hallmark's first priorities was building up his pass catchers.
Klein was predominately a running team, so we've really focused on developing the wide outs and tight ends," he said, and we feel real good about how everything has come along."
Chris Loving (6-4, 230 and a standout basketball player) and Darnell Sullivan are turning into a dynamic duo at tight end, and wide receivers like Andrew Santacrose, Alex Faissal, Ricky Carter and Ryan Jackson are also making a name for themselves.
Tailback Keshawn Hill (5-10, 190, 4.4) is another major weapon, and his abundant athleticism was on full display at the 2010 University Interscholastic League Track and Field Championships where he placed third in the 5A long jump and triple jump.
Keshawn is a big-time player who can run the ball and catch passes," Edel said. It's a great feeling having him in the backfield."
Hallmark adds: Hill committed himself to the weight room in the spring and summer, and you can see it's paying off."
Klein's defense is driven by a veteran secondary that includes returning starters in safeties Eric Rowe (Utah) and Kyle Noakes, and cornerback Phillip Holeman.
There's tremendous depth at linebackers with Ben Weaver, Jared Simbles, Chase Derrick, Taylor Black, Mitch Nau and Brooks Villarreal, and on the defensive line in Ross Winship (Rice), DeVonte Smith, Tyler Roche and A.J. Johnson.
There's is a lot of talent, but a lot of it hasn't been under the lights on Friday nights," Hallmark said. They still have to get a handle on the speed of the varsity game, and that will be an important part of our scrimmage and early games."
The Bearkats' only scrimmage begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Jersey Village, and in predistrict action, they start out visiting Aldine at 6 p.m. on Aug. 28 at Thorne Stadium and Katy Taylor at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3 at Rhodes Stadium.
Their first home game at refurbished Klein ISD Memorial Stadium is at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 with Kingwood, and the 13-5A opener is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 against Klein Forest (after an open week on Sept. 17).
We have 53 seniors, but a lot of them played on the junior varsity last year," Hallmark said. They're good players who played on very good teams (Klein JV teams combined for a 17-0-1 finish in 2009), but they have to used to the varsity game."
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