Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm / Updated at 2:15 am
Metro’s Sayles, Keely twins sign letters

Casey Sayles’ most recent phone call from Ohio coach Frank Solich was mostly business.

“I talked to him last night,’’ the Bobcats’ recruit from Omaha North said Wednesday. “He asked what time I was faxing in my letter (of intent).

“I told him I’m excited to be a Bobcat.”

Sayles was the only Metro Conference football player to sign Wednesday with a Football Bowl Subdivision school. The defensive end and tight end helped North reach the Class A championship game for the first time and he made the All-Nebraska team.

Four more in-state players, all on the All-Nebraska first team, have scholarships from FBS-level teams. They are Josh Banderas of Lincoln Southwest (Nebraska), Nathan Bazata of Howells-Dodge (Iowa), Jake Schlager of McCook (Colorado State) and Christian LaCouture of Southwest, who graduated midyear to enroll at LSU.

The 6-foot-3 and 260-pound Sayles will be tried first at defensive end for the Bobcats, who were 9-4 and won the Independence Bowl under Solich, a former Husker head coach. Defensive tackle also is a possibility, Sayles said, which would mean putting on 20 pounds.

In a release, Ohio defensive coordinator Jimmy Burrow said, “Casey is a very athletic big guy. ... His size, speed and quickness is everything we’re looking for in that position.”

Among players who signed with Football Championship Subdivision schools were the Keely twins, Stacy and Eron from Omaha Northwest, who are bound for South Dakota State.

“Wherever one of us is, you’ll find the other,’’ Eron said.

The Keelys are believed to be the first players from Northwest to sign with an FBS or FCS school since Taylor Gehman, who graduated in 1999, accepted an offer from Nebraska. The twins also were recruited by Nebraska and Missouri for track and field. Stacy Keely is the returning state gold medalist in the boys high jump.

Each listed at 6-8 for basketball, they played wide receiver for the Huskies and helped the team break a 29-game losing skid early last season. Stacy caught 26 passes for 536 yards and six touchdowns. Eron, who also goes by Spencer, had 26 catches for 492 yards and scored four touchdowns.

They were at Northwest for three years after attending Omaha Central as freshmen.

Northwest coach Tim Clemenger said South Dakota State is interested in the Keelys at tight end.

“They’re getting players not afraid to get their hands dirty,’’ he said. “They’re not afraid to block, willing to go after the ball. Sometimes you get receivers who are worried more about how their socks look. Not these two.”

Stacy Keely said South Dakota State contacted their coach during the season. The Keelys hadn’t been to a Jackrabbit summer camp, only one at Kansas State.

Their mother, Stacia Payne, jokingly groaned when asked about how she was going to beef up her sons to tight-end size.

“I don’t know how much more I can feed them,” she said. “I might need a part-time job to do it.”

Other in-state players who signed with FCS schools included Tyler Wrice of Papillion-La Vista and Nick DeLuca of Millard North with North Dakota State, Jackson Gannon of Kearney with South Dakota, Cale Svehla of Bellevue West with Southeast Missouri, Lee Carhart of Omaha Creighton Prep with Northern Iowa and Ryan McKeever of Omaha Skutt with Drake.

It’s the second consecutive year that only one in-state athlete was a Husker recruit. Last year, the state produced only four FBS recruits.

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Contact the writer: Stu Pospisil    |   402-444-1041    |  

Stu Pospisil has been The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports since 1990 and for golf since 1988. He primarily covers football in the fall, basketball and wrestling in the winter and track and field in the spring.

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