Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Despite racking up 112 carries in last two games, Little Elm's Ke’aun Kinner keeps on churning
LITTLE ELM — Ke’aun Kinner takes the handoff, runs 5 yards, crashes into tacklers and then fights for 2 more yards. The defenders get up slowly, but Little Elm’s senior running back bounces up.
Was it Kinner’s first run of the game? His 20th? His 57th?
“During the game, you don’t really realize how many times he’s run because he makes it look so effortless,” Little Elm coach Donald Stowers said. “We try to tell him to get up slow to get some rest.”
Kinner could use some rest after his last two games. Two weeks ago, he rushed 55 times against Prosper, which tied for the fifth-most rushes in a game by a Texas high school player. Last week, he took over No. 4 on that list with 57 rushes — for 345 yards and two touchdowns — as Little Elm (4-5, 3-3 in 9-4A) kept its playoff hopes alive with a 41-17 victory over Frisco Wakeland.
So how did he feel the morning after?
“I’m sore,” he said with a smile.
But Kinner (5-9, 185) likes the workload. It’s also what the humble, quiet senior expected after Little Elm’s other top offensive threat, senior quarterback Devante’ Pullum, suffered a sports hernia in the team’s first scrimmage.
“Son, you’re going to have to carry this team on offense,” Stowers told him.
Kinner carries a huge load, but he’s helped by an offensive line that averages 270 pounds. “I love them all,” said Kinner, who has rushed 319 times for 2,467 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. He’s topped 300 yards five times and ran for 432 against Sherman.
Pullum, who is playing again but is still recovering from his injury, describes Kinner as a “beast.”
“You know Johnathan Gray?” Pullum said, referring to the former Aledo star who is now a freshman at Texas. “I think Ke’aun’s better than him. That’s my opinion.”
It’s a strong opinion, but there’s no doubting the ability of Kinner, who has recently seen an uptick in recruiting. UT-San Antonio and New Mexico are interested, and Boise State just jumped in. Last week, Kinner got a call from national powerhouse Oregon.
None of that surprises Prosper coach Kent Scott, whose 8-1 team nearly got upset by Little Elm two weeks ago. Kinner rushed for 332 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-27 loss.
“He runs hard, he gets downhill, he beats you to the edge,” Scott said. “In over 20 years that I’ve been doing this, he’s the best back that I’ve ever seen. He’s phenomenal.”
Even a phenom, however, might get worn down after more than 300 carries in a season. But Stowers doesn’t worry about that. After games, Kinner is usually dancing around in the locker room with his teammates.
“It’s like they’re all ready to play another game,” Stowers said.
Little Elm has at least one more game, but to guarantee a playoff spot, it needs to beat The Colony (4-5, 2-4) on Friday. It should be another busy night for Kinner, who averages 7.7 yards per carry despite being the target of every defense.
“He runs with passion,” Stowers said. “He gets everything he can out of every play.
“Even when he’s about to go down, he’s still fighting for that extra yard.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon
Carrying the load
Most rushes in a game by a Texas high school running back:
Source: Dave Campbell’s Texas Football
The most rushes by a Dallas-Fort Worth area running back in the regular season in the last six seasons:
Arl. Sam Houston
*One regular season game remaining