Silliman Institute senior quarterback Zach Kelly picked up a preseason honor this week as football practice begins for area Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Silliman and Central Private.
Clinton-based Silliman was 9-3 last season under coach J.T. Davis, while Central Private was 2-8 under first-year coach Joey Sanchez. It was Silliman’s best record since going undefeated in 2001.
Mississippi Gridiron Magazine selected Kelly to its all-state preseason team as an all-purpose player. Kelly is a three-time all-district player and has passed for 57 touchdowns and has over 6,000 yards of total offense as a passer and runner. His older brother, Cobb Kelly, also made the 2013 preseason team and lineman Jozie Milton made the 2015 team.
“Zach Kelly is a true dual-threat quarterback,” Davis said of the 6-foot, 195-pounder. “He’s one of 15 seniors who will help lead us this year. Most of them have played together since the third or fourth grade. We’re excited to see what they can do together.”
Kelly is also the student body class president and a standout in baseball. He is planning to play college baseball.
Central Private junior Cade Sanchez takes over at quarterback after gaining some experience last year.
“We think Cade will be able to manage the game for us,” coach Joey Sanchez said of his son. “We’ll run a spread offense and have running backs by committee.
“We’re just excited about the new season and getting back to work. The kids know what to expect in my second year.”
Central Private is working with 22 varsity players, while Silliman’s roster is in the low 30s.
Central Private players to watch include sophomore Cole Averette (WR/DB), sophomore lineman Logan Ford, senior Landon Bryson (TE/DE), junior Austin Slater (RB/LB) and junior Jude Fontenot (LB).
“We had some obstacles this summer with kids playing travel ball and doing other things,” Davis said. “We’re excited to get to camp and see how we jell. We’re fairly big on the line. We want to become one team.”
Both schools play jamborees Aug. 14 and begin the regular season Aug. 21.