Prep football

Keator a calming presence on Chesterton's offensive line

2013-10-31T17:00:00Z 2013-11-01T04:37:06Z Keator a calming presence on Chesterton's offensive lineJim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
October 31, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

Great anticipation didn't precede Matt Keator's arrival in Chesterton's lineup last season.

A little-used JV player as a sophomore, he was pressed into duty at center -- never mind he hadn't played the position in a game before -- when starter Grant Zakhar was lost with a torn labrum the week before the opener.

"I played some center at option camp when we didn't have a lot of people," Keator said. "I was a fill-in for practice and it went from there."

Keator started the first game in 2012 and hasn't left the lineup since, a string of games that will reach 22 in tonight's Class 6A Sectional 2 final at No. 1 Penn.

"The neat part with Matt is I've been around him his whole high school career," Trojans coach Mark Peterson said. "He's a heck of a football player and a great kid. He sets our fronts, makes adjustments. You've got to love somebody who's able to do that. It's like having a coach on the field."

That was particularly crucial this season, when Peterson moved up to head coach and Rob Kania came on to coach the offensive line.

"He bought into everything we wanted to do from day one, which made it easier for me, starting late like Pete and I did," said Kania, who coached and played at Penn. "He knows the game. He makes the right calls. Not a lot of teams pull their center. He has the athleticism to get up to a linebacker, to kick out ends. I have a biased opinion, but I think he's one of the best centers in the area. He just doesn't miss a block."

At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Keator isn't built for power blocking, but in Chesterton's read option attack, his lateral mobility is an asset.

"In high school, the quicker, lower man wins," Keator said. "I'm not the biggest guy. I do have quick feet. I can go right, left, turn. A lot of it falls on the technique the coaches teach. (Kania) does a good job of keeping things simple."

At the same time, Kania gives Keator the freedom to 'audible' on his blocks if he sees something different.

"There are multiple ways to block a play," Keator said. "He tells me the way (he says) isn't always the best way, so do what you're comfortable with. If you do it well, you might as well go ahead. My junior year, I absorbed a lot from the seniors I was around. Now I don't think twice about it. We've got a high-tempo offense and I just go with the calls I make."

Last season, Keator benefited from battling immovable nose tackle Eric Madry five days a week in practice.

"When a kid like Madry is struggling with Keator, that's a great attribute, and he's built on it," Peterson said. 

Now Keator is the fulcrum of a veteran line that has powered an offense which has generated plenty of yards, if not always points, this season.

"In our wins, we only had three, four turnovers," said Keator, the recipient of only one holding penalty this season. "We could really be a 7-3 team. If we go out and play Chesterton football, eliminate the stupid mistakes, I truly believe we can play with anybody in the state."

Whether it's tonight or a point later in November, the last game may be the end of football for Keator, who has played since fourth grade. An aspiring engineering student, he may consider walking on at Colorado School of the Mines, where his sister Melissa is a student. Peterson believes the Division II school would be a good fit.

"I'd definitely give it a shot," Keator said, "but I'd rather get a good education."

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best girls cross country team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News