OlySports.com and TAGS Awards & Specialties Premier Player: Kobe Key
The River Ridge Hawks are flying high this season, sitting alone in first place of the 2A South Puget Sound League standings and senior dual-threat quarterback Kobe Key has been the steady hand at the helm. His outstanding play over the past two weeks and throughout the season has earned him the OlySports.com and TAGS Awards and Specialties Premier Player Award this week.
With six returning starters from a 9-2 team, there were questions marks for this Hawks offense coming into the season. How would they replace star running back Michael Key and SPSL offensive MVP Chris Leiba? Without much experience, who would step up and lead this team?
But those questions were quickly answered in their 39-8 season opener defeat of Aberdeen. Kobe Key passed for 144 yards and two touchdowns and his returning presence along with an experienced offensive line allowed newcomer running back Gustavo Diaz to emerge with 135 yards and two touchdowns and an easy Thursday night win.
“It’s a continuation of the job he did last season,” said Hawks head coach Steve Schultz. “He makes the offense go. The offense runs because he is at the helm.”
Two weeks ago Key passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another in their 35-14 dismantling of previously unbeaten Orting on the road. Last weekend, he passed for two touchdowns and rushed for one more against an over matched White River squad in a 40-6 win at South Sound Stadium. That win, plus Washington’s upset of Fife, left River Ridge as the only unbeaten squad in the 2A SPSL.
For the season, Key has thrown for eight touchdowns and rushed for six including a 103 rushing yard, three touchdown performance in a 26-19 redemption against Franklin Pierce, the one team that tripped them up in the regular season last year.
“I come out, just make the right decisions and setup every play,” said a reluctant Key when pressed to talk about himself. “We have a great line, great running backs and a great defense to give us the ball back.”
Diaz has emerged as a their go to running back and teamed with his quarterback Key, they have turned into a great 1-2 punch for the Hawks. But 10 different players have scored offensive touchdowns with Key serving as the catalyst and spreading the ball around. He has also recovered a fumble on defense and served as the team’s kicker at times.
“Combine leadership with athletic ability with wanting to win and wanting to play for his teammates,” said Schultz. “He’s incredible.”
The Hawks travel to second place Washington this weekend with a one game advantage on Washington, Fife, Steilacoom and Franklin Pierce in the 2A SPSL standings. The road gets a little tougher for the Hawks here on out with three of their last four games against one of those second place teams.
*** About the OlySports.com and TAGS Awards & Specialties Premier Player award: The Premier Player award will be handed out every week (the male and female award will alternate weeks) to a Thurston County high school athlete. Brandon Sparks of OlySports.com will choose each award and all inquires can be directed to him at email@example.com. Coaches can also email Brandon with nominations. The award winner will be chosen every Monday and awarded on Wednesday or Thursday throughout the school year.