KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - After holding the visiting Gainesville Eastside Rams (now 2-0) scoreless in the first quarter, the Keystone Heights High Indians football team gave up three unanswered …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - After holding the visiting Gainesville Eastside Rams (now 2-0) scoreless in the first quarter, the Keystone Heights High Indians football team gave up three unanswered second-quarter touchdowns. The Rams went on in the third quarter to add two more rolling up a 35-point lead. The Indians would hold the Rams to a scoreless final quarter. Even with getting the ball into the red zone numerous times, the Indians could not punch it into the endzone for a 35-0 season-opening shutout loss.
“It was very similar to the issues we were having last year,” said Indians Head Coach Steve Reynolds. “Issues where we were very successful moving the ball, then inside the 25 to 30-yard line, we had some situations, we got behind the sticks. We knew this (Eastside) team was very explosive. We had to make them take their time to play into our hands. We couldn’t sustain and hold the big play.”
With Keystone on offense to begin the game, the Indians had an opportunity to make a statement and get on the board first. Keystone Heights went on the march and used their ground game of running back Cartez Daniels and Trey Jeffries along with the arm of quarterback Baylor Ford to move the ball. With the ball inside Rams territory, an attempt for a fresh set of downs failed. The team was too far out for a field goal, choosing to punt. The back and forth would go on for the entirety of the first quarter.
“I have to open my eyes more and read the plays better,” said Daniels. “I have to look for the signs where I should cut it upfield. I have to watch more films to work on what I did as well as what he (Rams running back Joshua Benjamin) did to help make myself better. I’ll continue running, and just get myself in the best shape possible to continue to improve.”
Trey Jeffries, while not working on the defensive line, was called in several times at fullback to make holes for Daniels. In the second quarter, with Ford under center, Jeffries took a quick inside handoff for one of the biggest ground gains of the evening with a 21-yard clip.
“I just saw the hole to my left and just gunned it,” said Jeffries. "I just took them head-on and tried to not lose any yards.”
On defense, Jeffries did some damage to the Rams as he broke through the big Ram’s front line and got to the quarterback for a loss. Asked as a leader on the team, what they work on this week as the team prepares for another home game, Jeffries said “We just need to lock in. Monday we just have to be honest with each other.” Jeffries said before the coaches came in, “On Monday it tells the truth Monday. The players are all honest with each other about what we can do to get better; and improve.”
Early in the second quarter, it was Rams quarterback Adrian Curtis (279 Yds passing, 5TDs: 80, 60, 40 YD TDs) who connected with tight end Chris Bishop to open the scoring. Anderson showed a great arm and speed out of the backfield when in trouble. While the quarterback was an issue, the other Ram standout was running back Joshua Benjamin who had impressive burst speed. Time and again, Keystone believed they had the run stopped, only to have Benjamin juke and break away for additional gains.
Referring to things to work on in the coming week, Reynolds reflected “I’m not perfect. There was a play where I called it to the wrong side. That’s something I’ve got to get ironed out to make sure we have smoother sailing. Half of this team has salty experience; the other half are pretty young still.”
While not back to the drawing board for the Indians, it will be getting back to learning from the videos and making the adjustments in this early part of the season as the Indians will prepare for 1-0 Fort White Indians at home as Fort White comes off a bye week, and a 19-13 win over Taylor County two weeks ago.