TAYLOR COUNTY— On September 29, Kaden Keener made Taylor County Middle School (TCMS) football history when he broke a record that was set more than 20 years ago.
During the 1994/1995 Knights football season, the late Matt Moats earned the career rushing record at TCMS, tallying 1,652 yards.
Moats’ impressive record has lived on for 26 years but was recently broken during the Knights’ matchup against Tygart Valley on September 29, when Keener ran in a 95-yard touchdown.
With that run, Keener surpassed Moats’ rushing record, reaching 1,805 career rushing yards, which has only and will only continue to be added to as the Knights’ season has not yet wrapped up.
This run also broke the record for the longest run from the line of scrimmage in the history of the TCMS football program, which was previously set in 1992, by Jeremiah Jones for a 92-yard run.
Keener’s 95-yard TD run is also now the longest touchdown run in TCMS history, as his run passed the previous record of a 92-yard touchdown, set by Sherman Royster in 2003.
Last Wednesday, before the Knights kicked off, Keener was recognized for his outstanding accomplishments, and was joined on the field by Moats’ brothers, Mike and Mark Moats, along with his sister, Chrissy Peters, who help present Keener with his awards.
In addition, TCMS Athletic Director Allan DePiano presented Keener with a special cased football boasting his photo and rushing record.
Keener noted he was aware that he was close to breaking the rushing record, however, the other records he broke came as surprise.
And while he did know he was inching closer to holding the record, that never became the focal point of his play.
“Coach Bobby (Beltner) told me I was close to breaking the all-time record, but I didn’t know about the others,” he explained. “I just play, and don’t worry about that part.”
Keener has been playing football since he was five years old, and over the years has developed such a passion for the game that he says he does doesn’t see it as work.
“I love to play football, so I don’t see it as work,” he shared. “I like it that much; I think it is fun, and I want to get stronger and better.”
And while doing what he loves may not seem like work to him, that doesn’t mean Keener hasn’t put blood, sweat and tears into becoming the athlete that he is, giving it his all, and knowing he has trained hard to accomplish what he has. But while he does recognize the effort he has put into the sport, Keener remains humble and also credits his teammates, coaches and others who have made a special impact on him.
“I thought that it was pretty good that I had so many yards. I know that I have worked hard for it, but so have my teammates,” Keener commented.
He also gave thanks to his TCMS coaches, Bobby Beltner, Logan Beltner and Damon Waters, who have helped him see that the off-season is the most important time to work to get better, saying that is something that has helped him excel.
“Kaden is such a humble young man. He works hard all the time and the records that he has broken are pretty amazing,” B.Beltner said. “I have said many times the last two years that I am sure glad he’s on my team.”
Beltner went on to say that be believes great things are in store for Keener in the future and believes he will be breaking another record this Wednesday.
“Off season work pays off, and that’s big part of Kaden’s success,” he disclosed.
In addition, rather than being caught up in the glory of receiving his own awards, Keener presented special certificates to each of his lineman, once again showing great humbleness in saying he couldn’t have done it without them.
Keener also shared a special sentiment about his parent Hartsel Keener, noting that he has been one of his biggest supporters and encouragers through it all.
“Hartsel has been the best person for me because he taught me how to play football and also pushes me to do my best every game,” he expressed.
Now, with just one regular season contest left for the Knights before hosting the conference championship, Keener shared that is his goal to help his team earn the title for this season, which would be the perfect ending to his time as a TCMS Knight.
Next year, Keener hopes to be a part of the Grafton High School football program and hopes to win a state championship during his time as a Bearcat. He shared that he is looking forward to being with past teammates, making new friends and hopes to help the team with a lot of Friday night wins!
Further in the future, he revealed that playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes in college would be a dream come true.
Keener’s work ethic, determination, passion and heart are admirable and have made him a true inspiration to his younger teammates, and the advice he wants to share with them is, “Always give it your all, and remember to have fun while you are on the field.”
The staff of the Mountain Statesman would like to congratulate Kaden on all of his hard work and his amazing accomplishments, and also wish him the best of luck during his next chapter!