By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
While top-ranked and defending Division II-4A state champion Lake Travis emphatically slammed shut the book on Killeen's 2008 playoff run, the door for the future has been left open.
"It's a blessing to come this far," said two-year starting cornerback Tamarcus Brown between sobs after losing 71-9 to Lake Travis in the Division I-4A state quarterfinals on Saturday.
Added two-year starting offensive tackle Rhontae Scales, "We left open a door. That door was closed when I got here. As a team, we opened the door for the underclassmen."
Other than Scales, who will sign with Texas A&M in February, the offensive line was untested at the beginning of the season.
But they got into the playoffs, and from there, set out on a record-setting season.
In his debut varsity season, sophomore quarterback Michael Cummings was the first at Killeen to both run for more than 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000. His 18 rushing touchdowns tied John Allen Cook's 1958 school record and he was Killeen's first 1,000-yard rusher since Columbus Givens did it in 2004.
And Cummings nearly had company.
Sophomore Jaquail Hasksins, who started just four games and missed the last two with an injury, finished his season with 942 yards and eight touchdowns, including a then-school playoff record 167 yards against Austin Crockett.
Haskins' record lasted two weeks. Junior LeMarquis Jones, Killeen's No. 3 back, broke it with 221 yards against Gregory-Portland.
"All that goes to (offensive line) coach (David) Gaskamp," Scales said. "He told us that we're big and we're fast. We should be able to do something with that. Our strength is the running game and that's because of what he does with the O-line."
In the playoffs, as the competition stiffened – 2006 Div.ision I-4A state champion Alamo Heights and perennial playoff team G-P – the Roos running game only found success.
Their 409 rushing yards against Austin Crockett shattered the 1971 record of 375 yards in a playoff game and they topped the 1944 playoff scoring record of 40 when they put up 42 against G-P.
But the Roos' playoff success wasn't limited to just the output of the offense. The defense was just as much a key to the December run.
During the regular season, Killeen allowed opponents an average of 307 yards and 25 points a game. They gave up less than 20 points and just 283 yards a game in their three playoff wins.
"We got tired of everybody talking about our defense wasn't that good," Brown said. "We had to shut them up."
That defense allowed Lake Travis 621 yards, but forced five turnovers, including twice picking off Texas-bound quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who had only three interceptions all season before Saturday's game.
They picked off Alamo Heights' Oklahoma-bound quarterback Drew Allen three times in the area round and posted 11 takeaways this postseason alone.
They had 17 during their 10-game regular season.
"The seniors have raised the bar at Killeen High School," coach Sam Jones said after the loss. "These sophomores and juniors have to take it up a notch. We played a great state championship team twice this year. Maybe we can get to the level they're on."
Fifteen years passed between their last state quarterfinal appearance in 1993 and this year's. It took 15 years and a lot of lumps to re-open that door.
Inside that door there's a sign. It's in the field house, it's written beneath the 1991 state championship marker in the parking lot and it's plastered all over the hallways of Killeen High School.
It reads, 'Roo pride is justified.'
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.