Keeler big reason for Woodbridge in playoffs

Brock Keeler leads the Blue Raiders with 88 tackles in the regular season. He was named First Team All-Henlopen South. (Woodbridge HIgh School photo)

BRIDGEVILLE — The Howard High quarterback looked downfield, had no receivers open and took off for the first down marker.

He was met right before the line to gain by Woodbridge High senior linebacker Brock Keeler, forcing a punt.

Again in the second half Howard looked to pick up a first down and again it was Keeler who prevented it. Keeler stepped in front of a pass, intercepted it and returned it for a touchdown.

Keeler’s big plays led the Blue Raiders to an opening round victory last week against Howard in the DIAA Division II state football tournament. It was the second straight shutout for the Woodbridge defense.

“It’s so much easier when you have a kid like that,” said Woodbridge coach Ed Manlove. “You know he’s going to be in the right place every time.”

Woodbridge, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, hosts sixth seed Delmar High in the semifinals on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

The two teams met in the season finale which Woodbridge won 25-0 to decide the Henlopen Conference Southern Division championship. It snapped Delmar’s 20-game winning streak.

The matchup features the two most recent Division II state champions.

Woodbridge won the championship in 2016 when Keeler was a sophomore but was knocked out in the first round last year thanks to a loss at Milford High. Delmar went on to defeat Milford in the title game.

Woodbridge enters the game on an eight-game win streak. That included a revenge win over Milford on the Blue Raiders’ way to the Henlopen South crown.

“Definitely feel like we flipped things around in that Milford game,” Keeler said. “Last year they got the best of us in two games and the Milford game this year was a real turnaround game where we all came together. Ever since then we’ve been rolling.”

Keeler is topped the Blue Raiders with 88 tackles in the regular season. He was named First Team All-Henlopen South.

Keeler was honored on the All-State First Team after his junior year in 2017.

“He’s awesome,” Manlove said. “He’s obviously an All-State football player. He shows that every week and every day in practice.”

Keeler has been a four-year starter for the Woodbridge defense.

As a freshman he was a 5-foot-8 linebacker but has grown into a 6-footer whose presence is usually felt in the middle of the field. As the middle linebacker, Keeler is also in charge of calling out the plays or any audibles at the line of scrimmage.

“Sophomore year that state championship run, that was the time for me to step it up as a leader,” he said.

“I just try to lead by example,” Keeler added. “Tell guys what their assignment is and set them up for success. That’s my number one job and then just fly around and make plays. As a defense, we’re doing a great job.”

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