Port Allen’s Marcus Keyes still working to get better

If the goal of a left tackle is to have a consistent wall protecting the quarterback’s blindside, Port Allen High School found its dependable barricade in rising senior Marcus Keyes.

At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Keyes has started a school record 34 consecutive games at the left tackle position, beginning from the day he walked on campus three years ago.

Port Allen coach Guy Blanchard said he’s never seen someone like Keyes, where after three seasons of watching every play he’s ever been in, the coach can’t name a single time when his reigning offensive team MVP took a play off.

“I’ve never seen a play where I can say, ‘Marcus, you didn’t hustle this play, you didn’t come out of your stance, you didn’t give everything you had,’ ” Blanchard said. “The kid has a motor, and he doesn’t quit, and that’s all you can ask of a kid.”

Blanchard added that a player with Keyes’ natural abilities, combined with his strong work ethic are going to win most battles in high school, a theory that holds true as Keyes has twice been named first-team all-district at the position.

But possibly the most impressive factor in Keyes’ ironman streak is that his skills aren’t limited to just one side of the ball. For the past two seasons, when Keyes isn’t protecting his quarterback’s flank, he’s creating havoc for the opposing team’s counterpart at defensive end.

Keyes said he prefers playing left tackle because it’s easier and gives him the opportunity to put people on the ground, but tacking on a defensive role to his duties allows him to bring a new dimension to his offensive protection.

“It was really good because he started learning things as a defensive end that he could use at offensive tackle,” Blanchard said. “He would learn that and use that knowledge on the offensive side of the ball.”

Keyes’ talents haven’t gone unnoticed either as he’s already committed to trading in his Pelicans jersey for a University of Louisiana-Lafayette uniform following his senior season.

Keyes decided to forego a drawn out recruitment process in favor of signing with the Cajuns last month despite receiving offers from schools like Houston, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State, Southern Miss, South Alabama and Southeastern Conference Eastern Division champion Missouri.

“I talked to the (UL-Lafayette) coaches, and they made me feel comfortable,” Keyes said. “It was just the best decision for me at the time.”

Keyes was adamant that he would stick with his commitment to the Cajuns and sign with them on national signing day in February.

Blanchard said he spoke with several college coaches during Keyes’ recruitment process and the biggest impression Keyes made was his intangible qualities.

“He had the size, he had the good speed, he had the great footwork, the physicality and all that,” Blanchard said. “But they were also saying he was a humble and hard working kid, and that was the biggest thing I would hear about him.”

Keyes added that while he’s been working with a trainer during the summer to improve his quickness and first step, he currently isn’t attempting to pack on any more weight in preparation for his impending move to Lafayette.

“My goals right now are to just try to win and get my team better than last year,” Keyes said.