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Getting Healthy: Keystone Ends Regular Season on High Note With Impressive Win Over Moniteau

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It’s been weeks since Tyler Albright and Kyle Nellis have practiced.

Nagging injuries have dogged the Keystone stars for most of the season. It even cost Nellis a pair of games and most of another.

But now, they are healthier than they’ve been since early in the season.

(Pictured above, Tyler Albright, left, and Kyle Nellis)

And it showed on Friday night in a 57-12 road win over Moniteau in the regular-season finale.

Albright caught three touchdown passes and ran for another and Nellis rumbled for 153 yards and three TDs in the convincing victory.

“Me and Kyle, especially, were struggling with some injuries this year, but we wanted to start to get it going this week,” Albright said. “We wanted to be able to go into the playoffs on a roll and keep it going.”

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Albright started the scoring with a 17-yard run and then caught TD passes of 34, 2 and 5 from sophomore quarterback Drew Keth, who has gotten better and more comfortable each week after assuming the starting role when Rayce Weaver went down with a season-ending elbow injury several games ago.

Albright, who went over 1,000 career receiving yards, has also been hobbled and hasn’t practiced much. He also didn’t play defense against Moniteau on Friday night.

“Neither of those guys have practiced in a while, so it’s just nice to be getting them back in there,” said Keystone coach Todd Smith. “They both ran well tonight. Both have been battling injuries and it was a great effort by our guys.”

Albright had a statistically interesting night, finished with four receptions for 56 yards and also rushing four times for 56 yards.

Meanwhile Nellis looked as nimble as he has for weeks since injuring his ankle.

Nellis, who had 107 yards by halftime, scored on runs of 28, 46 and 30.

The senior running back went over 1,000 yards this season and also passed his father, Jason Nellis, on the all-time rushing list at Keystone.

“It does mean a lot,” Nellis said. “I really wish I could have played in the games I missed — I think it would have helped us a lot. We’ve had a lot of games this year where we’ve had to battle some adversity and sometimes we didn’t pull through. It’s more of a statement tonight to have this big win.”

Nellis also hasn’t played defense since his injury.

He and Albright may return to that side of the ball next week in the first round of the playoffs.

(Keystone coach Todd Smith talks with his team after the win over Moniteau.)

Keystone (6-4) wasted little time in putting away Moniteau (2-8), leading 14-0 after the first quarter and 41-6 at the half.

The Warriors, though, ran on the Panthers, piling up 334 yards rushing in the game.

Hunter Stalker had a big night with 214 yards on 20 carries. He scored on a 7-yard run to open the second quarter that cut the Keystone lead to 14-6, and then on a 75-yard run — on a first-and-43 play after three straight penalties — in the fourth.

“We were able to move the ball,” said Moniteau coach Bob Rottman. “But if we didn’t score every time, we were falling behind.”

Keystone racked up the run yards in bunches, as well. Aidan Sell also went over 100 yards on the ground, finishing with 114 on 11 carries. The Panthers gained 362 yards rushing and 430 total in the game.

Sell has emerged as another weapon in the backfield after starting the season at tight end. He broke his hand in the final scrimmage and played with a cast for half the season.

“I think we would have found him earlier if he wouldn’t have had the cast on,” Smith said. “He runs hard in there and has given us a third option.”

Keth has also shined.

He didn’t play quarterback until this season and had just two junior varsity games under his belt before being thrust into varsity action.

Keth was 5 of 6 for 68 yards and the three TDs against Moniteau.

“He’s getting confidence and he’s really coming along,” Smith said. “He’s just a great kid who works hard. He looks right at you and wants to do the right thing all the time. You wouldn’t be able to tell that kid has only been playing quarterback for like five games.”

Keystone (6-4) will open the Class A playoffs next week against an unknown opponent. Smith is hoping to get a home game.

He’s also hoping to end a long drought for the program.

The last time the Panthers won a playoff game was in 1989.

“They went to the title game that year,” Smith said. “Kyle’s dad was on that team.

“I’m just so proud of this group,” Smith added. “I’ve been coaching for 30 years and this is just one of the hardest working, nicest group of kids that I’ve ever been around. You just want to keep it going because you still want to be with these guys.”

There was scary moment late in the first half when Moniteau quarterback Trent Beachem scrambled to his left and was tackled from behind.

He lay on the grass as medical staff attended to an upper leg injury that required the sophomore to be taken off the field on a stretcher and later transported by medical helicopter to a local hospital.

“We’re all praying for him,” Rottman said. “When we’re done here, we’re going to go check on him and sit with him for a while.

“It’s a tough game,” Rottman added. “Football is one of those sports where you work and work. You go through the month of August, heat acclimatization, football camp, leading up to that first game — all work. It’s not fun practices, unless you’re a little crazy. It takes a special kid to play football. You work your butt off for 10 games.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.