Wednesday, October 06, 1999

Koester leads Elder charge

Big tailback brings added dimension to No. 1 Panthers

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tailback Kyle Koester has led No. 1 Elder to a 6-0 record.
(Josh Biggs photo)
| ZOOM |
        Many defensive players have tried to stop him, but all have failed. Elder tailback Kyle Koester has picked up yards on every carry this season, a rarity for backs at any level.

        A bruising, 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior, Koester has rushed for 783 yards on 121 carries (a 6.5 average) in five games. He has scored 10 touchdowns.

        “Kyle doesn't have a carry this season where he didn't gain at least 1 yard,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “I know when we give him the ball, he'll get something.”

        Elder has been primarily a passing team for most of the last decade.

        Today it's different: Most opponents gear their defenses toward stopping Koester while also trying to guard against the pass.

  • When: 7:30p.m. Friday.
  • Where: Elder Stadium, 3900 Vincent Ave., Price Hill.
  • Tickets: $5.
  • Records: Elder 6-0, 1-0 GCL; Moeller 3-3, 1-1.
        “When I saw how great (Elder quarterback) Collin (Carey) threw the ball in the first game against Walsh Jesuit, I didn't think I'd get the ball much this season,” Koester said.

        “Elder has always been a passing team, but more so when when coach (Tom) Grippa was here. Coach Ramsey seems to mix it up a little more.”

        Carey has completed 46 of 80 passes for 836 yards and 10 touchdowns.

        But Friday at Elder Stadium, Koester will be the major focus of a Moeller defense that has been tough against the run.

        In six games, the Crusaders have allowed only 514 yards rushing (85.6 average) while giving up 777 through the air.

        “Our remaining schedule (Moeller, St. Xavier, Oak Hills) is tough, and I don't think Kyle will have any more 200-yard games,” Ramsey said.

        Back when Koester was in grade school, Ramsey knew the back would improve the Panthers' running game.

        “Kyle dominated the Western Conference while playing for Our Lady of Lourdes,” Ramsey said. “He had a great year as a freshman and led the team to the GCL championship.”

        Very few sophomores get an opportunity to play varsity, but Koester was an exception. He was moved up during the preseason as the blocking fullback.

        “I was just happy to start, and it didn't make any difference if I ever got the ball,” Koester said. “I was excited when I moved to tailback and got a chance to run with the ball.”

        Koester was elevated to the tailback position in the third game last year against Western Hills, after Nick Papania and Mike Datillo both went down with season-ending knee injuries.

        “As a fullback, Kyle was a great blocker and a good receiver,” Ramsey said. “Playing fullback isn't a glamour position, but we have kids lined up to do it.”

        Ramsey is amazed at Koester's ability to read the defense, follow the blockers, find the running lanes, cut back and get through it quickly.

        “Kyle punishes people,” Ramsey said, “The biggest difference this year is that he's more physical and much stronger. When guys try to tackle him, he drags them 2 or 3 more yards.”

        This added strength is the result of Koester's dedication to lifting weights and running five days a week during the summer.

        “I also played (junior-varsity) baseball and basketball,” Koester said. “But I gave both sports up during the summer to concentrate on football.”

        Koester has learned quickly that without blocking from the fullback and line, his success would be limited. He's always singing the praises of such support players.

        Although he's only a junior, Koester is being besieged by college recruiters interested in getting the inside track on an athlete who Ramsey believes will be an outstanding college fullback.

        “Ohio State likes Kyle, and he's perfect for the fullback position,” Ramsey said. “He reminds me of Marc Edwards from Norwood who went to Notre Dame (and is now a Cleveland Brown).”

        Koester has several other attributes Ramsey admires.

        “Kyle gets stronger as the game goes on,” Ramsey said. “He's very competitive and doesn't like to lose. He has that typical Elder mentality but takes it a step farther.”

        While Elder's offense is expected to move the ball against Moeller, the Panthers defense may be the key against a diversified Crusaders attack.

        Tailback Marcus Blanks (174 carries for 994 yards) is Moeller's major offensive threat. Quarterback Brian Reisert is another weapon, having completed 48 of 93 passes for 783 yards.

        “Moeller has beaten us the past two years,” Ramsey said. “This is always a tough game and one they need to win to stay in the playoffs.”


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