TAYLORSVILLE, Miss. (WDAM) - Taylorsville looked well on its way to a second straight state title – 15-1 and the 2018 South State champions.
However, it’s South State victory over Bay Springs didn’t come without a price. The Tartars’ prolific passer Ty Keyes fractured his ankle and would miss Taylorsville’s state championship game. Scott Central would defeat the Tartars 21-7 to claim the class 2A crown.
“It was heartbreaking,” Keyes said. “I wish everything I could to be out there with my teammates but it was God’s plan.”
Keyes returned with a vengeance in 2019 – a stronger and smarter football player. The junior’s 287 yards passing and 3 scores in Friday’s 41-6 win over Mize puts his season totals at nearly 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.
However, the Tartars’ ten victories is the state Keyes cares about most. The once-shy freshman has developed a presence as a vocal leader.
“He’s just growing up man, that’s what it is,” said Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans. “He was 14, 15 [years old] as a freshman so he’s had a few years and he’s adjusted to everything that’s going on. Being a leader on and off the field, being first to work, being first in the weight room, first in film. That rubs off on all the kids and I think that’s his biggest attribute.”
“This year I’m reading the field a lot better,” Keyes said. “I usually didn’t do that a whole lot my freshman year. I’m doing it very good this year.”
A quarterback who passed for over 4,500 yards and 45 touchdowns as a freshman, it’s scary to think Keyes is even more dangerous as a junior.
Much of his success has to do with the playmakers around him. The Tartars’ two-headed monster – juniors Jeffery Pittman and Travis Keyes have combined for 1,312 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.
Six different players have at least 250 yards receiving, led by senior Jabez Griffith’s 32 receptions for 786 yards.
“It’s made my job so much easier,” Keyes said. “We can run it sometimes, we can mix it up and pass it sometimes. It makes our offense very explosive.”
“Seeing the field I think comes with more reps,” Evans said. “The more you do it, the more everything slows down. The game slows down and plays are there to be made.”
Keyes is ready to get back to making those plays in November. After an entire year remembering the state title from the sidelines, Taylorsville’s leader is eager to make another run for it.
“We can go however far we put our mind,” Keyes said. “It starts off in practice. We do good at practice, we’ll lead on to the state championship.”
“I think [Keyes] thinks he has something to prove,” Evans said. “I’ve heard him say he felt like he let the team down by getting hurt. Accidents happen but that’s the way he felt, sitting over there on the sidelines like he was helpless. I think he’s got the burden on his shoulders – he wants to play well this playoff season.”