Junior receiver could be Southmoreland’s secret weapon this season

Wednesday, August 24, 2022 | 6:14 PM

The “X” receiver could be Southmoreland’s X-factor this football season.

Ty Keffer is out for football again for the first time since elementary school and the 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior could be a difference maker on both sides of the ball for the Scotties.

“I have always been a big fan of the X receiver,” Scotties first-year coach Tim Bukowski said. “Ty fits in there well. We want to get him accustomed to playing again. Once he gets some continuity and gets used to some contact, we think he can be dangerous.”

Keffer, a talented basketball and baseball player, said coaches talked him into playing again. One of them was the late Ron Frederick, who died of a heart attack in February, a day after finding out he was going to be the head coach at his alma mater.

Frederick’s presence still looms large around Scotties camp.

“I want to play for him,” Keffer said of “Coach Fred.”

“He talked about me being a playmaker for us. That is what I want to do. I want to be a leader for our receivers. I want to call out the plays for our defense. I was in the stands last year cheering and I missed (football).”

Bukowski knows he can’t hide his new-found athlete. In fact, he embraces the idea of Keffer being a go-to receiver.

“He proved it Saturday in our scrimmage already,” Bukowski said. “He had three touchdowns, two on fades and one where he caught a hitch and broke a few tackles and scored.”

Keffer said returning to football has been like riding a bike. No training wheels here, though.

“Learning the plays is the big thing,” he said. “Once I get that part down, it’s pretty easy.”

Bukowski said Keffer might have the strongest arm on the team, but he is more valuable as a receiver — at least for now.

“He has that baseball arm. Man, he can throw it,” Bukowski said. “We can put him in different spots. The slot, out wide. … It depends on the defensive matchups. We can get creative.”

A carbon copy of his favorite Scotties player, Riley Comforti, Keffer hopes to be the difference maker Comforti was before the 2020 graduate went on to college football at Alderson Broaddus. Comforti has since transferred to Carlow, where he is playing basketball.

“They both have great hands,” Bukowski said.

“I always looked up to (Comforti),” said Keffer, a young 11th grader who turned 16 in May. “I want to beat his (point total) in basketball. I want to be on that wall. I made it for baseball all-section, so that was pretty cool.”

Junior Kadin Keefer is the starting quarterback for the Scotties. He hooked up with Keffer several times in Saturday’s scrimmage.

“Keefer to Keffer,” Keffer said. “That sounds good. Some people mix us up, though.”

Akin to Steelers’ fans clamoring for Pickett-to-Pickens, the connection could be Southmoreland’s top weapon. That is because the running game is a work in progress.

Senior Travon Lee, who was expected to be the main rusher, is no longer on the team, leaving the Scotties foraging for running back depth, perhaps having to lean on a committee.

Does that mean the plan will be to throw it 40 times a game?

“Who knows?” Bukowski said. “You want to be balanced, but it’s going to be tough. Maybe we’ll throw it 30 times.”

Like basketball, where Keffer likes to attack the basket, he wants to pounce as a pass catcher.

“When the ball is in the air,” Keffer said, “it’s mine.”

Bukowski also likes Keffer’s ability to cover a lot of ground in the defensive secondary, where he will play safety.

Keffer said he is working closely with some teammates who also will make up the receiving corps. Juniors Ronnie Collins, Wyatt Richter and Cody Bateman are among them.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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