by Michael Smith
The last three weeks have definitely kept recent Grain Valley graduate Cole Keller busy.
On May 29, Keller earned all-state honors in the 400-meter run and the 4x200-meter relay at the Missouri High School State Track and Field Championships. Last Saturday, he led the Eagles baseball team to a second-place finish in the Class 5 state tournament.
Even after all of that, Keller had no time to rest. This week, he was practicing for Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association BeYOUnion Kansas vs. Missouri All-Star Game. It’s a football game that featured some of the best seniors in the 2021 class from the Kansas City metro area on the Missouri and Kansas side.
Early on, fatigue may have been a factor for the Eagle graduate as he was sacked three times and lost a fumble in the first half. Team Missouri and Keller didn’t have a great first 30 minutes as it trailed Team Kansas 9-6 at halftime.
However, Keller found his rhythm in the second half and finished by completing 8 of his 13 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 21 yards to help lead Missouri to a 20-12 victory, ending the state’s two-game losing streak in the annual contest.
For his effort’s, Keller was named Team Missouri’s Most Valuable Player.
“It’s pretty cool (to be named MVP),” Keller said. “I don’t know if I deserve it 100 percent. That’s just me being hard on myself. I appreciate the honor and recognition.”
Kansas took a 12-6 lead late in the third period after Adam Young’s 20-yard field goal. A long kickoff return from Staley’s Rajon Hill set up Missouri at the Kansas 9-yard line. Keller took advantage by hitting Park Hill South receiver Eric Avery on a slant route during third down for a 9-yard touchdown pass, to put his team up for good at 13-12.
“Oh (heck) yeah, he’s solid,” Keller said when asked if he was looking forward to playing with Avery before the game. “All the receivers were so talented and were great route runners.”
“He came up to me and said, ‘The slant is open.’ The coach called the play, and I didn’t like the play, so I changed it to a slant. It was a hell of a call and a heck of a catch.”
After Missouri got a stop on defense, Missouri scored on its next possession when Keller ran 27 yards on a read option play that completely fooled the Kansas defense. His big play set up a 17-yard touchdown run from Center running back Nosa Ohamnu.
Grain Valley coach David Allie, who is the president of the GKCFCA, noted that Team Missouri ran a similar offense the Eagles had last fall, making it easier for Keller to adjust to playing in the all-star game.
“They ran a similar-type offense and similar-type schemes that he was used to with us,” Grain Valley coach David Allie said, who was a volunteer at the event. “He made a good read there. He saw the defender commit to the running back and he pulled it and went.”
“He did that for us quite a bit.”
For Keller, playing in the game was a fun experience.
“There’s so much talent out here, even the weak spots are strong,” Keller said. “To be around these guys and be around smart and talented football players definitely elevates your game.”
Added Allie: “I am so happy for him to go out like that in his final high school game. What a career!”