• July 24, 2014

Spring Football: 5 Questions at Killeen

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Posted: Friday, May 20, 2011 4:12 am

1. Who will take control of Killeen’s offense now that three-year starting quarterback Michael Cummings is headed to Kansas? Since being given the reins prior to the 2008 season, the Kangaroos’ offense was Cummings’ team, even when the senior suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 8. His successor — likely sophomore Devarri McCray or freshman Garrett Gaskamp — will be the one that steps up and takes Cummings’ same ownership, Killeen coach Sam Jones said.

“It just depends on which kid decides to step up and say, ‘This is my team,’ and take it on from there,” Jones said. “The good thing about both of them is one of them is going to be a sophomore and one’s going to be a junior, so it’s not like a one-year deal, but they’ve got to be ready.”

McCray is considered the front-runner because of his limited experience last year, completing 13 of his 22 attempts for 123 yards filling in for Cummings and senior No. 2 quarterback Quinton House late in the season. Gaskamp has had a promising spring, Jones said.

Sophomore Harker Heights transfer Rasheed Dashiell, who was vying for the Knights’ starting position before the 2010 season, is also in the mix, but is still learning the system and will be required to sit out the first three games because of the UIL’s transfer policy.

2. Can a running back like two-year starter Ja’Quail Haskins be replaced? Haskins had his career-year when the Roos needed it most, running for 1,550 yards and 20 touchdowns and taking on the offensive workload when Cummings was sidelined.

While a talent like Haskins, who’s committed to Army, is a once-in-a-while talent, the Roos’ cupboard isn’t bare.

Deontre Huey returns for his second season and will be the Roos leading returner (37-197, 2 TDs). Reserve back Will Matthews (14-94) also returns and Jones said Victor Scott may be the most physical of the three.

“I don’t think we have that (Haskins) type of back, but I think we have three quality backs that one’s physical, one’s still got the jitters (Matthews) and 40 yards, 50 yards with (the ball), they’re as quick as Ja’Quail.”

3. Can the offensive line, which returns three starters, afford the backfield enough time to grow and mature? Behind returning all-district starters Chase Anderson, Dante Patrick and Akeem Harrison, who’s just a sophomore, the Roos averaged 394 yards per game, including 222 yards on the ground. Anderson and Patrick are Division I-caliber players, as is 6-foot-3, 205-pound newcomer Reggie Harris, who could’ve started last year but wasn’t released from his previous school. Also returning is junior Jack Patton, who saw time at center when Anderson missed with injuries.

“I think our offensive line is as solid as they’ve been in a long time,” Jones said. “I don’t think we have a Rhontae Scales (Texas A&M) or a Jonathan Rush (Oklahoma State) type of line, but I think Harris is pretty close. He’s not 6-7, he’s 6-4. ... I think they’re going to be a pretty good group of offensive linemen when it’s all said and done.”

4. Despite not returning a lot of starters, the Roos’ defense does have some experience coming back, but who will take over the leadership of that defense now that Royce Asi is graduating? There are returning starters at every level of the Roos defense and returning experience at almost every other position, but Asi’s leadership and physicality are not replaced by simply putting someone in his linebacker position.

Linebacker Justin Acker and defensive tackle David Kouadio were both second-team all-district selections last year and defensive end Artrez Price was an honorable mention. All three will undoubtedly be counted on to take various responsibilities other than their gaps.

5. How do you replace the leadership of so many standouts that were three-year contributors? While only Cummings was a three-year starter, Asi, Haskins and Nicholas Parks were all there, all key when the Roos made their 4A state quarterfinal run in 2008. Without those key components, the Roos now must move on.

Quarterback is the biggest hole, but mainly because Killeen’s identity has been so closely linked to that position in Cummings’ tenure.

“Those kids came into the program just like these kids,” Jones said. “(The new Roos) have an opportunity to win on all levels ... it’s their turn to step up just like it was Michael’s, just like it was Ja’Quail’s. ... It’s eliminating the mistakes and giving our quarterback a chance to grow. That’s going to be the key to Killeen High.”

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