High School Football

Young is poster boy for Crusaders’ high-scoring win

Athlete of the Week Keenen Young

Althoff senior Keenen Young caught 13 passes for 233 yards as part of a historical night for the Crusaders' offense, which had 737 total yards in 54-38 win over Helias Catholic.
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Althoff senior Keenen Young caught 13 passes for 233 yards as part of a historical night for the Crusaders' offense, which had 737 total yards in 54-38 win over Helias Catholic.

Althoff senior wide receive Keenen Young was selected as the Belleville News-Democrat Athlete of the Week.

The honor is a bit of a misnomer, though.

Young is more like the poster boy for a total offensive explosion by the Crusaders, who got several Athlete of the Week-worthy performances in a 54-38 win over Helias Catholic in Jefferson City, Mo. Friday night.

Young's contribution to Althoff's 737 yards of total offense — the eighth best single-game team total in Illinois high school history — was 13 catches for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

That one-game performance alone is good enough to place him at No. 12 on the list of St. Louis-area receiving yard leaders, even among Missouri players who have already completed their third week of action. As it stands, Young ranks eighth.

"There's nothing new from Keenen that we haven't seen before, but Friday was just the biggest explosion he's had," said Althoff head coach Ken Turner. "We feel like we have four or five guys who can go one-on-one with a lot of defenses. It's kind of like whoever they leave alone is who we go to. Friday night was Keenen's night."

Keenen’s night? It looked like everybody's night.

Senior quarterback Jordan Augustine completed 19 of 23 passes for 387 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Malik Easley rushed 16 times for 207 yards (a 12.9 yards-per-carry average) while junior Jaylon Bester ran for 125 more.

It’s those performances Young cites as primary factors in his own success.

"For one, Jordan is a great quarterback — 19-for-23 is amazing and he had 300-something yards? Amazing,” said Young, who averaged nearly 18 yards per catch Friday. “The running game was so good, it was pretty hard for them to focus too much attention toward me. To me, what we did on offense started with the running game. Malik and Jaylon opened the opportunities for the rest of us.

"If I was their defensive coordinator, I don't know what I would have done.”

Turner agreed, saying the game plan going in involved keeping the ball on the ground as much as possible.

“They’ve struggled against the running game in the past,” he said. “They were so focused on it that it opened up the passing game, which allowed Keenen to have a big night."

Friday's victory could turn out to be a signature moment in a prolonged Althoff season. Helias visited Belleville in the second week last year and defeated the local Crusaders 35-7.

Althoff knocked Helias, previously ranked No. 6 in the Missouri Class 4 poll, to 0-3. More than that, Young said, the win revived some of the Crusaders’ confidence, which was shaken by the miscues of a narrow week-one win over Collinsville.

"We had been looking forward to this game because we were really young last season and they put a nice whooping on us," he said. "We knew we'd come back with a good team, but we didn't really click all together last week. We made a lot of mistakes, but feel now like we were a lot better from week one to week two. Confidence is at a really high level, right now."

Young will have a difficult decision to make before graduation in the spring of 2016. As a junior, he was a key member of the Crusaders' basketball team, which placed second in Illinois Class 3A and will mount another championship run this coming March.

Though he said his father would prefer he continued his college career on the basketball court, Young is leaning more toward football. Jackson State University in Nashville, Tenn., which completes at the NCAA-FCS level, already has shown interest.

“I don’t know for sure what’s going to happen next year,” he said. “I’d like to keep playing football. That’s my first love.”

Sports Editor Todd Eschman can be reached at teschman@bnd.com or 239-2540. Follow him on Twitter: @tceschman.