NEW MARTINSVILLE - A band of brothers are hoping to share the excitement of capturing a state championship.
The Magnolia High School football program features three members from the Keller family who are preparing to embark on Friday's Class AA state championship game against Ravenswood. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at Wheeling Island Stadium
Senior Traeh Keller is the all-state linebacker who is playing his 51st varsity contest as a Blue Eagle. Junior Jayson Keller doubles as the team's starting running back and cornerback, while freshman Drew Keller is the linebacker in waiting.
Photo by Kerry Patrick
The Magnolia football team features three brothers. Pictured, from left, are freshman Drew Keller, senior Traeh Keller and junior Jayson Keller.
"It would really be awesome for all three of us to get the ring the same year," Jayson said.
The Keller boys, who are the sons of Jimmy and Robin Keller, grew up together doing what any typical kids do at their age. Basketball in the driveway. A pickup game of football. Or even playing baseball. They even had their encounters against each other in video games such as "Call of Duty."
Regardless of the competition, it was always good-natured. A friendly rivalry of sorts. And it remains that way on the football field. When someone makes a key tackle, the other is there to greet him with a high-five.
"With some brothers, you might see some animosity, but there is none between these kids," Magnolia coach Mark Batton said. "Traeh and Jayson just feed off each other."
Traeh has been recognized as a first team, all-state linebacker the past two years. He has accumulated more than 120 tackles each year since his sophomore season.
Whenever coaches watch game film and want to know where the ball is, they just look for Traeh. His football I.Q. is extremely high.
"I'm out there on an island, and every time I look in it seems Traeh is on top of the pile," Jayson said.
Jayson is not classified as a linebacker, but his position in the Magnolia's defensive scheme requires that he play like one.
"Last year, we tried a few players there and Jayson was really the one who stepped up," Batton said.
Because of Jayson's value on the defensive ball, he was used sparingly on the offensive side as a sophomore. This year, he has come into his own as a ballcarrier gaining 1,278 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns.
"Jayson has always been able to get the job done," Traeh said. "I was confident in him.
"At home, I have to put up with all of his bragging. Actually, I'm kidding because he is pretty modest."
Drew is still biding his time as a reserve, but his older brothers know he will step up when the time comes.
As for this week, the Blue Eagles are preparing for a Ravenswood squad which features the versatile Cole Starcher at quarterback. Traeh and Jayson understand their role is to contain the elusive senior.
"I'll have my eye on him most of the time," Traeh said.