Taylorsville's ability to throw and catch is unmatched, especially in the division of 2A football. Since bursting onto the scene as a freshman in 2017, highly-touted Tartars' quarterback Ty Keyes has completed 640 passes for 11,848 yards - 125 of those passes resulting in touchdowns throughout three seasons.
Now let's focus on what often gets overlooked: Taylorsville's rushing attack, in particular, this year.
At this point in the season last year, Taylorsville accumulated 2,392 yards on the ground in 14 games, compared to 2,685 in 14 games this season. The Tartars eclipsed last year’s rushing total Friday night in a 47-30 win over Philadelphia, two games shy of its total played in 2018.
"From week-to-week, our offensive line has gotten better and better and better," said Taylorsville head coach Mitch Evans. "And our backs too. This year is the first year our main two backs have received the majority of carries. The better our backs and offensive line become, the more it shows up in our games."
Junior Jeffery Pittman and senior Travis Keyes combined for 163 yards on 21 carries and five touchdowns in the Tartars’ quarterfinal win.
“The second half was the difference in the game,” said Evans. “Our offensive line played great. And when Pittman and Keyes got an opportunity to run the ball, they did great. They made plays for us.”
Pittman crossed the goal line three times in the second half on runs of 7 yards and 33 yards, as well as a short run that put the game out of reach late in the fourth. Keyes two scores came in the first half on runs of 14 and eight yards.
“Everybody knows our offense is Ty Keyes, and he is a great player. He should get all the accolades and the things that he gets towards him. But, they forget about our offensive line. They forget about Jeffery [Pittman]. They forget about Travis Keyes and the run game,” said Evans after the game on Friday. “But, we've had it all year. If you look at the stats, we run the ball more than we throw it; every game just about.”
Pittman led Taylorsville in rushing yards with 113 yards on 15 carries. Keyes finished with 50 yards on just six carries.
“Our offensive line blocks well for us game-in and game-out,” said Keyes. “It makes the rest easy for us.”
Together, Jeffery Pittman and Travis Keyes receive the honor of being named Sports601's Powerade Co-Players of the Week (Week 14) for the Jasper, Jones, Smith, and Wayne County coverage area.
Taylorsville (13-1) will host the reigning 2A Champ Scott Central (11-2) this Friday night in the MHSAA Class 2A South State Championship. This will be the third time both teams have played in a year’s span.
"We played them for the state championship last year and then the first game of this season," said Evans. "I've preached to our guys all week that to be the champs, you must beat the champs, and right now, Scott Central is still the champ until someone beats them [here in the playoffs]."
Taylorsville defeated Scott Central in Week 1 of the season, 32-12, in what many called a "grudge match."
"That first game, as you know, is like a coaching tool," said Evans. "Most of your corrections come after that first game. Scott Central is a better team then they were [in Week 1]. They're a physical bunch and well-coached. Coach [Devin] Cooper does an outstanding job of getting those guys ready to play."