Keller Looks Great in Winged Helmet!
Keller and Coach
San Ramon Valley's -- and Michigan commitment -- quarterback Sam Keller and Monte Vista's signal caller Kyle Wright squared off for the second time in a month this past Saturday night, this time for the North Coast Section 3A title at the Oakland (Network Associates) Coliseum in front of 16,000 fans. Those expecting the drama and excitement of their last meeting ( a last second 46-44 squeaker) were let down as Monte Vista ran away (literally) with the 35-14 victory. No last minute heroics on either side. "They were just the better team" was Sam's gracious statement to yours truly right after the game. While obviously disappointed with the loss, Sam was nice enough to chat with me for a little bit.
Sam's San Ramon Valley (SRV) team dons the Winged Helmet, though their colors are Yellow and Green. I asked Sam if he was looking forward to wearing the real colors associated with that helmet design and his eyes brightened up with a big "Oh yes, I can't wait! It's time to move on, and I'm ready to get going". Sam also told me, "I'm heading back to Ann Arbor this coming (Dec. 13) weekend for my official visit, and I'll be there during my Spring Break as well." I really enjoyed our brief chat. Sam's is a nice kid along with being one heck of a quarterback.
The last time they dueled, my write-up compared these talented quarterbacks. This time my focus is going to be strictly on Sam. I've seen him play three times this season, one blowout win for SRV, one hugely close-fought battle, and this last game, a never-in-doubt loss. In all three games Sam impressed me with his leadership abilities, his coolness under fire, and his mechanics as a QB. As I've stated in past reports, nobody I've seen at the high school level has as quick of a release as Sam. He also has pinpoint accuracy. So much so that when a ball was overthrown I asked Roger Theder, the former Cal coach who tutors both Wright and Keller, if he taught him to do that; his response: "Only to throw the ball away!"
This was the first SRV game I saw in which Sam had to bring his team back from a huge deficit. He was up to the task, not losing any composure. The offensive line just couldn't stem the Monte Vista (MV) onslaught on the quarterback, and Sam was sacked nine times. It seemed to me that MV made the correct adjustments from the previous game, and SRV had no answer.
Monte Vista jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead. On the first drive of the 2nd half they made it 28-0. Most players would throw in the towel, but not Sam and his SRV teammates. After Monte Vista's score Sam marched the team 57 yards down the field, including converting on two fourth and long situations, and scored to make it 28-7.
After the SRV defense held Monte Vista to a three and out, SRV's Angelo Richardson returned the ensuing punt back to the Monte Vista 12. On the very next play Keller rifled a pass to Corey Stringer -- and all thought another classic was in the making.
However, Monte Vista returned the favor with a quick tochdown that all but sealed the coffin for SRV. But Keller wasn't done yet. Again Sam marched his team down to the Monte Vista 7. On third and goal the Monte Vista defense sacked Sam, as they had quite a bit on this night, and the fourth-down try went incomplete.
Keller finished the night 19-29, for 260 yards and no interceptions. Well short of his performance on Nov. 15th, but a very solid performance under the circumstances.
I spent the first half with Roger Theder. Roger said both Sam and Kyle "make the throws the NFL quarterbacks make now." He also said, "I don't think there is any throw these kids can't make." I asked him what the differences were between Kyle and Sam, Theder said "Sam stays in the pocket a bit longer than Kyle. I think he can run just as well as Kyle but he doesn't take off as quickly as Kyle, which can be worked on." He also told me Sam works with the coaches on play calling: "Sam calls half the plays out there."
As far as the Michigan recruitment of Clayton Richard, Theder told me, "Sam is not concerned with Richard at all, he is looking forward to being a Wolverine. The Michigan coaches are coming out this week and Sam is going back there this weekend."
I had a brief chat with Sam Ramon Valley coach Dave Kravitz and he said, "Sam is a leader, no question about it. That kid is a leader." Sam finished the season with over 3000 passing yards and is in line for first team all East Bay Athletic League (beating out Wright!).
Yours truly is really looking forward to seeing Sam Keller wearing the real Winged Helmet for the next four years!
Keller's looking good
in a Winged Helmet!
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