Catholic High coach Del Greatwood didn’t have to ponder very long when asked to describe senior star Will Keegan.
“Dynamic,” Greatwood said. “He’s just dynamic. He’s like greased lightning at times. That’s the only way I can describe him.
“He’s a one-track player for goals. If you want a goal, he will put it away all day long. He can score all day long.”
Putting the ball into the back of the net is what Keegan does best, and there’s nobody in the area who does it as well, or as often, as he does.
The reigning News Journal Player of the Year finished the regular season with an area-high 39 goals. He added three more in the District 1-2A tournament to head into tonight’s Region 1-2A contest against Florida High with 42 goals.
“My goal for this season was to get to 35,” Keegan said. “I think I knew that I could produce this well, but it’s still a surprise to score as much as I have. I was confident, but I didn’t think I could actually pull it off.”
Keegan reached his goal with two weeks left in the season. He’s still got a ways to go to reach the school record of 53, set by Nick Williamson. But with his ability to score in bunches, no number is out of the question.
“Last season, he scored 27 in 26 games,” Greatwood said. “That’s right at a goal a game. At our 20th game this year, he was at 39 goals. He’s just a strong player with the ball. He’s so strong off the mark.”
Defenses have resorted to selling out to try to stop Keegan this year. He’s seen double-teams, and even triple-teams in an event to keep him from scoring.
It’s rarely worked, though, as Keegan has scored in all but five games this season.
He’s had three four-goal games and a career-best five-goal game against South Walton.
“From the start of the season, I recognized his ability,” Greatwood said. “For me, as a longtime player and coach and lover of the game, I will give him the best chance that he can get to maximize himself and his abilities.
“I’m pleased that we found the right formula to use him correctly. He has been a treasure for me this season. At the end of the day, he’s done it all for the school. He’s got a strong character.
“I think he’s got a strong family behind him and I think that keeps him on track.”
Greatwood wasn’t the only one to notice Keegan’s ability from the outset. After making waves as a junior, Keegan entered his senior year immediately on the radar as he was named to the NSCAA All-Region team.
Keegan is believed to be the first player from Pensacola to be named to the All-Region team.
“It was definitely an honor to get that kind of recognition,” Keegan said. “It’s a credit to my teammates who I definitely couldn’t do any of this without.”
Keegan and his teammates rolled through District 1-2A play to enter tonight’s game against Florida High as the district champions. The Crusaders finished 16-6 in Greatwood’s first season as head coach.
“I think we surpassed a lot of expectations,” Keegan said. “I think we’ve definitely tested ourselves this year. We played some of the bigger schools and even though we lost, we played better against the bigger schools than we have in the past. It’s a major confidence boost for us that we can hang with the good teams.
“If there’s been an adjustment period (with coach Greatwood), it’s been small. It was a seamless transition.”
Keegan should also make a seamless transition into college soccer. He’s currently holding a few offers to play at the next level. But that can wait, as Keegan and the Crusaders have their eyes on postseason play.
“He’s a straight-up guy, he knows exactly what he wants,” Greatwood said. “He’s straight up with all the other students. He’s serious to the point where people think he’s quite blunt.
“He’s got a strong character, very determined, extremely athletic. He’s going to do well in whatever he chooses to do.”