Eagles’ Keller still a three-sport athlete

Bill Althaus
Grain Valley quarterback Cole Keller (1), who has already received several college offers to play football, is busy preparing for the basketball and baseball seasons as well.

One by one, the players enter the Grain Valley High School gymnasium, ready for another day of conditioning and practice.

There are many new faces as standouts like Josh Kilpatrick, Caden Matlon and Seth Dankenbring graduated off last year’s squad, opening the door for several starting positions.

“We’re going to have four positions that are wide open,” Eagles coach Andy Herbert said, “and one that belongs to Cole Keller, who we’re all hoping is healthy throughout his senior season.”

As if on cue, Keller – drenched in sweat – enters the gym after spending the previous two hours working out with the Eagles football team, where he will be the starting quarterback for the third year in a row.

“Cole is one of those athletes you dream about coaching,” Herbert said. “He’s a leader, a player all his teammates look up to – your most talented guy and your hardest worker. Now, we just have to keep him healthy.”

Keller missed most of his last basketball season with a serious knee injury he suffered late in the 2019 football season.

As a sophomore, he missed eight basketball games with mononucleosis.

Now he’s hooked up with a nutritionist and is looking at a variety of offers from NCAA Division II football programs and ready to have a dream senior season.

“I’ve made some (football) visits and have some scholarship offers, which I am so thankful for,” Keller said. “I’m really excited about our season and going to college and playing, but there are way too many things happening at Grain Valley High School before I start thinking about college ball.

“Football is going great. We lost a lot of talent, but we have some monster talent back this year. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people because last year we had some big-time players, and this year it’s going to be more of a team approach with everyone contributing.”

When asked about heading to the gym following a football practice session, Keller just smiled.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s great to be healthy and able to do everything I could before that injury last year. I want to have a strong football season, then go into basketball healthy and ready to have a full season my senior year.

“And right now, all I’m thinking about is working hard and getting ready for football, basketball and baseball. There are all those questions about if we’re going to have school, if there are going to be fall sports – all that stuff that deals with the pandemic.

“But I can’t control any of that. The only thing I can control is how hard I work. I’m a senior, I want to set an example for all the underclassmen and join the other seniors in really making an impact this season.”

He then excuses himself, walks to center court and leads the team in pre-practice stretching exercises.