Kleg Kennedy is stuck in Brandon Scott’s shadow. But, if he has his way, it will not be for long.
During his senior season, Lampasas dual-threat quarterback Scott was named District 25-3A MVP after accounting for 16 touchdowns and almost 1,400 yards of offense, in addition to his roles as starting punter and safety. His combined efforts helped the Badgers earn their first district championship since 1989, while elevating Scott into small-town superstar status.
Although Scott departed for Hardin-Simmons to begin his collegiate career, unfair comparisons linger in Lampasas, and they continually ring in his replacement’s ears.
“I heard all summer, ‘Are you going to be a Brandon Scott?’” Kennedy said. “That is all I heard. I’m just hoping I can live up to what he left behind.”
Admittedly, Kennedy cannot replicate Scott’s jackrabbit speed and elusiveness, but perhaps more importantly, he cannot duplicate Scott’s supporting cast or the quarterback depth he possessed. Just two offensive starters remain from last year and backup quarterback Logan Irvin will miss the majority, if not the entire season, due to a knee injury suffered during Lampasas’ first scrimmage.
With the offense needing to rebuild quickly, Kennedy feels as if the city’s hopes of repeating are resting squarely on his shoulder pads at times.
“It is a lot of pressure,” the junior said. “It is a position where if everything is going good, everybody loves you, (but) if something goes wrong, everybody hates you. It’s a lot of pressure, and when we lost Logan, that put a lot more pressure on me, but that is part of being a leader and being part of the team.”
While the 2011 team left a small window for regular-season improvement after losing its lone game to Leander Rouse prior to district competition, Kennedy hopes the extra victory occurs during the postseason. Last season, the Badgers were eliminated from the Class 3A playoffs in the area round, falling to La Vernia 36-21, following the program’s first playoff victory in 13 seasons.
Kennedy understands, though, the Badgers have a lot of developing to do before contemplating playoff potential.
“Coach (Jimmy) Randolph used an example, you can’t just take a pecan tree and plant a new pecan tree and expect it to give off pecans the first year,” Kennedy said. “You’ve got to let it grow.”
The analogy is fitting for both parties as Randolph can relate with his quarterback’s current situation.
The program’s former defensive coordinator replaces Joey McQueen, who endeared himself to the community in part because he inherited the Badgers when they were on a 20-game losing streak and transformed them into district champions in three seasons.
“He’s going to do us a great job, but he’s not Brandon, he’s Kleg,” Randolph said, “just kind of like I’m Jimmy and not Joey.
“He’s going to be able to do a whole lot more than a lot of people think. Kleg is a pretty good athlete. He will be more than up for the challenge.”
And by the time the season is over, perhaps Kennedy will have cast his own shadow.