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Athletes of the Year: Scotty Keenan

Sunday, June 20, 2004

(Photo)
Scotty Keenan
SIKESTON - Sikeston High School has had many standout athletes over the years, but there hasn't been one recent memory that excelled in three sports the way Scotty Keenan did this season.

Keenan, who graduated from SHS in May, set records in football, reached the state championships in wrestling and was a vital cog in the Bulldog baseball team's third place finish at state.

Keenan's performances this year made it an easy decision in naming him the Standard Democrat Male Athlete of the Year.

"He's kind of a dying breed in that he's a three-sport athlete," said Sikeston football coach Charlie Vickery. "He excelled in three different sports and I think that's a tribute to him."

Keenan's senior year started off with a bang on the gridiron as he broke two 30-year old school records in the receiving department. He caught 44 passes -- breaking Steve Ferrell's 1971 record of 42 -- and he had 786 receiving yards to break Glen Guttenfelder's 1972 mark of 778.

And it all happened with a first-year starting quarterback in Stephen Miller.

"I don't think anybody, myself included, expected 786 yards and the year Stephen had at quarterback," said Keenan. "When that all started to unwind and happen, that was really something special."

He also led the team with five receiving touchdowns.

"He had a great year for us," said Vickery. "He had outstanding hands. He worked hard to get better and ran good routes. He's really got deceiving speed. He has good size for a receiver and I think that was a big advantage for him because people didn't think somebody that big would be that fast. I think he used all of his abilities to the utmost."

At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Keenan was also a fierce hitter from his free safety position. He recorded 60 tackles and intercepted three passes for the Bulldogs' 4-5 team.

"You take a kid like Scotty, he's got the physical abilities to play different positions," said Vickery. "He knew how to play the position. He was smart, could read offenses well, could pick up on if somebody had run a route a few times. He did a real good job of coverage, was real smart back there, and had the physical abilities to do it."

Keenan then jumped right into wrestling where he had to trim his weight to 171 pounds. He then picked up right where he left off in football as he reached the Class 2 state championships and finished in eighth place in the 171-pound division.

It was his second straight qualifying appearance at the state championships.

"My goal was actually to get in the top six which gives you all-state," said Keenan. "I came one point away from doing that -- I lost my last match 3-2 in the last 20 seconds. I was wanting higher, but top eight is still something to be proud of."

The eighth place finish, although it just missed all-state, gave the Bulldogs valuable team points as they finished 15th in the state overall.

Keenan went 36-9 on the season.

"He was a good leader in practice every day and a kid that could always pick everybody when they were having a bad day," said Sikeston wrestling coach Chris Hodgkiss. "He's just a good kid to have around and a good example for the younger kids to follow. He's the type of kid that doesn't like to lose. He's going to be a champion and he's going to be a winner. He worked hard at it during the offseason with lifting and going to summer camps. You could tell that it paid off during his senior year. He was focused and ready and he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish."

Following wrestling, Keenan jumped right into baseball. Head coach Kevin Self asked him to move to the leadoff spot in the batting order from his customary No. 5 spot from the year before.

Keenan came through for Self and the Bulldogs, proving to be a valuable asset to the team at the top of the order.

Although his batting average dipped slightly from last year to .338, Keenan still turned out to be one of the top leadoff men in the area. He walked a team-high 25 times and he scored 30 runs. He had three home runs, 14 RBIs, four doubles, two triples, six steals and had five sacrifices. In the outfield he had just one error all season, one more than he had all of last season.

Keenan did miss five games when an arm injury surfaced at the McCracken County Wood Bat Tournament after throwing five innings and allowing no earned runs.

Some thought he may not return until district play, but he was back in the lineup after a short stint.

"He had to play hurt a little bit, but his bat stayed strong," said Self. "He probably took more pitches this year in the leadoff position than he's used to doing, but he did a really good job. He had 25 walks, which is almost a walk a game. And you've got to have that out of the leadoff guy. He really stepped into that role and accepted that role. He's pretty versatile. Scotty could play anywhere I asked him to play. Scotty's been a real good player for three years for us."

Keenan's emergence even prompted one area coach to say that he was "one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup."

Keenan helped lead the Bulldogs to a record setting season, posting a school record 27 wins to only two losses, one of which was a 2-1 defeat in the Class 3 semifinals to eventual champion Ozark.

In that game, Keenan drew a key walk in the seventh inning and represented the tying run on third base before the final out was recorded.

"Just getting there was really great, that's what we were going for," said Keenan. "We didn't want to have a big upset like we did with Notre Dame last year. Just getting there and the way we got there with the big win against North County, that was just a great game to be a part of. And then to play another great game against Ozark, we just came up one run short. It was a good season, 27-2 and we had a heck of a team. That's nothing to hang your head about."

Keenan says his athletic career may be over. He will participate in the Lions All-Star Football game in July, but after that will head to the University of Missouri where he will major in business.

But he says he will cherish the memories he had during his senior year.

"It was a great year," said Keenan. "I stayed busy going from sport to sport, but it went by pretty fast. It was a great year, I had a lot of fun and I got to be a part of some great teams with every sport I did."