Vista Ridge at Killeen Football

Killeen High's Kadarius Marshall runs into the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown against Cedar Park Vista Ridge on Thursday at Leo Buckley Stadium.

Playmaker.

That’s the kind of athlete Killeen football’s Kadarius Marshall aims to be.

“When you need that person to make the big play,” Marshall explained, “I want to be that person everybody depends on.”

He did just that in his first two varsity games.

On Aug. 31, Marshall capped a 17-play, 99-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown to put the Roos ahead of Stony Point in the middle of the fourth quarter in Killeen’s season opener.

But the sophomore running back was just getting started.

In the Kangaroos’ home opener Thursday against Vista Ridge, Marshall led the Killeen offense, rushing for a total of 192 yards and four touchdowns.

That’s just the first step toward his season goal.

“At the end of the year, I’m trying to have at least 1,000 yards so I can at least be one of the top five running backs,” said Marshall.

Part of that motivation comes from his favorite professional running back.

“Before every game I watch Marshawn Lynch,” he said. “As soon as somebody tries to take him down, he just never stops.”

Perhaps Lynch was the inspiration for Marshall’s 38-yard touchdown as he dodged through the Rangers defense and into the end zone to put the Roos ahead 29-6 in the middle of the second quarter.  

But Marshall also gives credit to his team for helping him start the season with back-to-back dominant performances.

Varsity jitters got to him in the first quarter of the Stony Point game as he had an early fumble.

“At first it was kind of scary,” Marshall explained, “I messed up a couple plays, but my team told me not to get down, and after awhile I just got the flow of the game and started taking care of business.

“They saw something in me and I started to see it in myself.”

Marshall played on the junior varsity last year before head coach Neil Searcy moved him to the varsity at the start of spring.

“You’ve got to work hard, and if you work hard, you’ll have a starting spot,” Marshall recounted Searcy telling him back when spring weight training began. “And I worked hard in the weight room and then we moved onto the field and I worked hard there.

“It just all paid off when I played Friday.”

Considering he transitioned to the varsity at the end of his freshman year, it was both a shocking and exciting promotion for the young athlete.

“When I first saw it, I couldn’t believe it,” Marshall said of seeing his varsity locker for the first time. “I just couldn’t stop telling people. When I told my mom, she was even happier for me than I was.”

It was his teammates’ support that made the transition so seamless.

“Everybody said, ‘’Sipp, you’re going to help us,’” Marshall recalled, noting when he first arrived in Texas from Jackson, Miss., his teammates quickly bestowed the nickname shortened from his home state. “You’re probably going to be one of the key players on the team.”

With the athleticism he brings at running back for the Roos, many would be surprised to learn that Marshall hasn’t always played that position.

“When I first moved down here, I was playing receiver at my old school,” he saidd. “But when I moved out here, they moved me to running back and it turned out good.

“I like it way better than receiver. I love playing running back.”

But Marshall wouldn’t even be playing football if it wasn’t for his grandfather, who could see the talent in his grandson when he was 9 years old.

“I was playing (football) in the back yard with my friends and my Granddad told my momma that I was good,” Marshall said. “And then it went from there.”

There’s also a family connection to his jersey number. Ever since his grandmother died, he’s chosen to wear No. 5 to honor the day she passed away.

“Ever since I told my Granddad that I was going to start wearing No. 5, he’s felt better about me playing football,” Marshall said.

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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