It was quite a season for Dayne Keller.
The Newburgh, Indiana, quarterback was ranked as the 69th best player in the country by Youth 1 before taking the first snap for Castle South Middle School.
And once the season started, Keller showed why.
A shoulder injury prevented the eighth grader from putting up eye-popping statistics, but Keller still managed to lead his team to a second-place finish with a 5-4 record.
“I don’t even know what my stats were, to be honest,” Keller said. “Overall, I was just happy with the improvement by the team. I thought we got better as the season went on and I’m pretty proud of all the them.”
Castle South was in first place late in the season before a tough 6-0 loss knocked them out of the top spot. The rocket-armed Keller threw a 50-yard touchdown pass on the first of the game but it was called back on a blocking penalty.
Keller was happy with his final season of Middle School football.
“I thought I improved myself over the season,” he said. “I think I became more of a leader. I tried to lead the team all season and I thought I did pretty well.”
Now, Keller can start preparing for football at Castle High School.
His goal remains the same – win the starting quarterback job as a freshman.
“I know it’s a huge responsibility, but I think I can take over,” Keller said. “I’ll make sure I’m ready for it.”
Keller is going to train with Coach Will Hewlett and NFA/QBA for the fifth year in order reach his goal.
“I’ve learned a lot from Coach Will and going to NFA camps,” Keller said. “This off-season, I’ll just try to work harder and keep training with Coach Will and when I get to high school try to compete for a position.”
Keller got a jumpstart toward high school this season as he often operated out of the no-huddle, spread offense. Castle High School runs the same offense, so the transition should be smooth.
“Just knowing the formations is something that really helps,” Keller said. “Knowing the play calls and right ideas. Knowing when to do something and when not to do something. We ran the spread and no huddle a little this year. It’s very fast and we throw the ball a lot. I really love it. I think it’ll be great.”
While he is currently playing basketball for Castle South Middle School and Castle High’s feeder team, Keller is not going to forget about football over the winter.
“Whenever I’m sitting around at the house, I like to go outside and throw the football,” he said. “And I like to keep up on doing little things, ball-handling drills and things like that.”
When he gets back to NFA/QBA training, Keller knows one area of his game that still needs some work.
“I need to work on my footwork, taking a three-step drop and getting back a little faster,” he said. “Or just work on doing a three-step drop. Try not do my oversteps and just stay with the fundamentals are other things I’ll work on.”