Cross Keys High School’s varsity head football coach John Bowen is hoping to stop what has become a major negative factor for the school’s varsity gridiron program — a revolving door to the head coach’s office.
Bowen is the school’s third head football coach in several years.
Cross Keys, which is playing a non-region schedule this year, will open its home football schedule Thursday at Adams Stadium against Douglass with kickoff at 5:15 p.m.
The turnover regarding the Indians head coach has impacted not only the football program itself but, just as important, the players, Bowen said.
“I am trying to instill good work habits for football in our players and, with that, develop within them a commitment to our football program,” he said.
Whatever Bowen has done seems to have already had a positive impact in many areas of Cross Keys’ game plan, offensively and defensively.
However, his plan may have manifested itself in the team’s offensive line, especially from a size standpoint.
“I would venture to say our offensive front would average about 270 pounds,” Bowen said. “However, it is not only the size of our players on our front line which is impressive, but their attention to detail and developing skill level has also been quite nice to see.”
The offensive front is anchored by junior guard David Velazquez who, at 6’-3”, 270 pounds, has the size and is quickly developing the skills to play college ball.
“David will certainly be a vital element of our offensive front and has good quickness for a guy his size,” Bowen said.
Senior Calvin Farley will occupy a number of important positions this year for the Indians, again on both sides of the ball.
“Calvin will be one of our primary ball carriers and will also be a key for us defensively, playing defensive end as well as cornerback,” Bowen said.
Another player who the coach sees as getting a great deal of work this year, offensively and defensively, is senior running back and defensive cornerback Mark Weaver.
Another mainstay on the team is tight end, defensive end and placekicker David Maldonado.
As far as his offense is concerned, Bowen said that element of his game plan continues to evolve.
The Indians will likely feature multiple defensive sets, including a 46, which is highly unique among high school football programs and is used primarily for pass defense.
When asked what McNair High School senior first baseman and the varsity softball team’s leadoff hitter Katerra Johnson brings to his team, head coach Marcus Salter described her in seven words.
“She is a sure run for us,” he said. “She is patient at the plate and I can rely on her to put the ball in play.”
The 17-year-old second year starter, is one of the captains of Salter’s team this year and, entering the Lady Mustangs game last week with Blessed Trinity, was hitting a brisk .400.
At 5-foot-1, she may not be the tallest first baseman in the county, but Johnson well makes up for it with her capacity to stretch for any wide or errant throws to first.
“She can reach out and catch just about anything thrown her way,” Salter said. “She is flexible and very agile and is a dependable a defensive player as she is at the plate.”
Johnson said, in softball, like baseball, first base “is where the action is.”
“That’s where I want to be, where the action is because, at first base, you are part of just about every play,” Johnson said.
Entering the Blessed Trinity encounter, the Lady Mustangs were 1-1.
If there is any doubt regarding Johnson being a role model on and off the field, one needs only look at her academic achievement. She also leads in the classroom with a 4.0 grade point average.
“That is the main thing about Katerra, she leads by example and not only sets the pace for us but is a very unselfish, team-oriented player,” Salter said.
Although she had not played much organized softball before she tried out for the McNair team last year, Johnson said she always had an interest in softball. She said many of her friends played the game and she enjoyed it because of its individuality.
“Softball, like baseball, is a team sport and being able to play as a team and work together to accomplish team goals should always be first and foremost in each player’s mind,” Johnson said.
“However, myself, and everyone else on the team must perform to their best ability on an individual basis, making plays on defense and getting hits to be in scoring position on offense if the team goal of winning games is to be achieved.”
Staff / Bill Baldowski From left, McNair senior quarterback Christian Holmes and senior runningback Shaquile Hickson work on perfecting their football exchange before practice last week as they prepare to meet Therrell at Panthersville Stadium Friday.
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