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Whatever it takes

Hurdle, run over or go around — junior Collin Keoshian will do it all

Posted: December 3, 2008 10:33 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Collin Keoshian was the Heritage League Most Valuable Player in 2007. He rushed for 2,253 yards. He's followed it up with a stellar year as a junior, running for 1,889 yards.

 

Collin Keoshian has been stitched up four or five times this year, by his father's count.

The last time would be the last time for his mother. DeeDee Keoshian just couldn't deal with it anymore. It was too hard for her.

The football wars had taken their toll on the junior football player from Santa Clarita Christian.

The fifth time a professional did the stitching, allowing Keoshian to continue.

After Santa Clarita Christian's 26-21 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man finals Saturday over Windward High, a Wildcats player approached Keoshian's father and the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, Craig Keoshian.

He then reached out to Craig and handed him what could no longer be stitched - the other half of Keoshian's white road jersey.

The jersey has been tattered so much by Keoshian's style of play that it was finally destroyed.

Its last stand came during the Cardinals' upset victory over Windward, when Keoshian - a bruising running back at 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds - ran through the Wildcats' defensive line with players grabbing at him.

That style of play has characterized Keoshian football.

It's also made Keoshian one of the best 8-man players in the state.

The Cardinals play Faith Baptist at 7 p.m. Friday in the Division I championship game at Canyon's Harry Welch Stadium.

Faith's head coach, John Rasmussen, might have one of the best understandings as to how important Keoshian is to the Cardinals.

"I've been coaching 8-man football for 26 years. He's one of the greatest 8-man running backs I've seen in 26 years," Rasmussen says.

Keoshian tallied 2,253 rushing yards last season, first in the state among 8-man runners.

He has followed it up with 1,889 yards this season, averaging 9 yards per rush.

And the 17-year-old has done it in spectacular fashion.

"You have to do whatever it takes to get there," Keoshian says.

He has done whatever it takes so often that his plays have become part of Santa Clarita Christian football lore.

In the single-wing spread offense SCCS uses, Keoshian is part running back, part quarterback and part lead blocker.

He is adept at all three.

In the second round of last year's playoffs, opponent Avalon took a 35-29 lead in overtime.

Facing elimination and with the ball on the Avalon 15-yard line of fourth down, Keoshian took a sweep toward the sideline.

The Avalon coaching staff implored its players to grab him on the run, but Keoshian reared back, then passed to teammate Steven Borden for a touchdown in the end zone that won the game.

He hurdled so many players on the run that it's hard to choose which was his best vault.

It takes Craig and head coach Garrick Moss a couple of moments to think of the one.

Against Windward, Keoshian leaped over a player and gained an extra five yards that cemented the victory late in the fourth quarter.

And the pancake blocks are too many to name.

He catches well, too.

NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision schools look at his frame and think he might be best suited as a tight end.

One play typifies that notion for Craig, a former safety at Fresno State.

In a game against San Diego Lutheran Sept. 22, 2007, Borden threw a bullet pass to the back of the end zone. Craig recalls the throw being behind his son and Keoshian catching it by the nose of the ball.

Keoshian is also a defensive force as a linebacker.

Through the Cardinals' first 10 games this season, he made 133 tackles and eight interceptions. Keoshian has returned those interceptions for 270 yards.

He's had a couple of hits that opponents have had a hard time standing up after.

"Clean their clocks," Keoshian says with a broad smile about the big hits. "I love it. That's why I play football."

But the rough-and-tumble nature of football is a dichotomy of Keoshian's general nature.

He usually helps his opponents up. His hits are clean. And he has a genuine humility that opponents and coaches notice.

If there's a knock on him, Moss says, opponents say he's too nice.

"He's always smiling, patting people on the back," Moss says.

Craig is biased, of course, but when asked about character flaws, he can't come up with any.

"Um, boy, you know what? He um," then he pauses. "I don't know off hand. He's such a good kid."
He doesn't talk back.

He protects his three sisters.

It's difficult for people to understand that someone could have so few flaws.

They're hard to find.

It's better to look for them on Keoshian's jersey.

On Friday, he goes into the championship game with a red home jersey that's also been tattered.
The goal is for the uniform top to stay in one piece.

The other goal is for Keoshian to go on a tear.


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