Ty Keyes: Bound to be well known beyond Taylorsville

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Twenty-eight years ago, these eyes saw future Alcorn State and NFL standout Steve McNair boost tiny Mount Olive to a state championship victory. “Steven McNair, remember that name,” my column ended.

Rick Cleveland

This afternoon I saw 15-year-old Ty Keyes lead Taylorsville to a 41-26 victory over Winona for the State Class 2A title.

Ty Keyes, remember that name.

Keyes, a long-limbed, 6-foot-1, 160-pound ninth grader, completed 18 of 25 throws for 333 yards and three touchdowns against a Winona defense that was geared to stop him.

Rick Cleveland

Ty Keyes, sporting his championship gold medal, is interviewed by Hattiesburg journalist Tim Doherty.

“I had seen him on film, so I knew what we were up against,” Winona coach Joey Tompkins said. “He’s a freak. We knew the only chance we had was to get to him before he had time to throw and we just couldn’t get there.

“I’m telling you, man, that kid can spin it.”

Taylorsville capped a 15-1 season by out-scoring Winona 27-13 in the second half. During that 16-game season, Keyes has grown two inches in height and even more as a leader and in confidence.

We can all be glad we’re not buying his pants.

“He’s come a long, long way and he was good to begin with. He’s not a freshman anymore,” Taylorsville coach Chuck Robertson said. “He’s a winner. He’s a great kid. He was the hardest working kid I had in our summer program. He’s just a winner.”

Keys can spin it. He throws a tight spiral and he can throw a 15-to-20-yard dart, or an accurate 55-yard “bomb” that hits his receiver in stride.

When he takes his helmet off, he looks like a 15-year-old kid, not old enough to drive. But when he puts the helmet on and drops into the pocket to pass, he looks like he has been playing this game for decades. He was born in 2002.

Robertson saw Keyes for the first time when the youngster was between the seventh and eighth grades. Robertson never dreamed the baby-faced kid would throw for nearly 5,000 yards not quite two years later.

“I really didn’t think much of him at all then,” Robertson said. “He wasn’t even 5-8.”

Keyes, who also excels in basketball and baseball, says he hopes to grow to be 6-3 or 6-4. At his current rate, he might grow even taller.

The kid didn’t lack for help either. Tycarius Roberts, a shifty, speedy running back, rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Both Roberts and Keyes were the beneficiaries of dominant blocking from the line.

“I’ve got great receivers, too,” said Keyes, who hit seven different receivers with passes, including four who had three catches or more. Letreal Jones, a junior, snagged three for 88 yards and a touchdown.

That said, there was no doubt who was running the show on the field. Ty Keyes: Remember the name.