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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
ELMIRA — As a running back in Elmira there is nothing more special than the Ernie Davis award.

On Thursday afternoon Brady Keefe was honored as this year’s winner of the award at the Kiwanis luncheon at the Clarion Inn in Elmira.

Keefe won the award over other finalist Marshall Winkky of Horseheads and DeShon Cook Jr. of Edison.

“It feels amazing, it’s an amazing honor,” Keefe said. “I can’t thank my coaches and my fame enough.”

It’s an award that’s not just based on stats, but also academics and community involvement and that’s special for Keefe.

“It’s great to be recognized for my attributes off the field,” Keefe said. “I always try and be a kind guy and look for the best in people.”

While it’s an award that Keefe won, the senior knows that it’s really something that his entire team should share in.

“It’s a team award, I’m just here to represent the team,” Keefe said. “My offensive line, all my yards are credited to my offensive line. And, defensively, my defensive line put me in and opportunity to make big plays.”

This season Keefe ran for 1,256 yards on 156 carries, with 12 touchdowns. He also caught a 71 yard touchdown this year. Defensively he had 59 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.

“It’s real special,” Elmira coach Jimmy McCauley said of Keefe winning the award. “First of all it’s an honor for all three of these guys, just to be a nominee shows a lot about how you are as a person and your character.

“But, Brady works real hard. Not only on the field, but in the classroom. Brady cares, he has a special ability. He cars about what people think of him, he cares about how much work he puts into it. He’s highly motivated and the awards come after the work ethic. I think it is huge for us as a team and us as a community.”

What makes the award even crazier is that Keefe didn’t even start playing football until 10th grade.

“I think with Covid, and I was bored, and said I’m going to play football and started working out,” Keefe said.

When he started playing he never imagined a moment like this.

“I don’t think my expectations were this high,” Keefe said. “But, I always put in my best effort and gave it my all.”

Keefe surprised himself at times, but he knew he had put in the work.

“It was surprising how well I picked it up, I always put in the work, so I think that helped,” Keefe said.

This year, Keefe knew that his offensive line was so good he’d be able to have success.

“I knew my offensive line was looking really good this year, so I figured the stats would come with it,” Keefe said.

And, having Amir Williams and Johnnie Garcia in the backfield with Keefe only made things easier for Keefe.

“It’s great having Johnnie and Amir, they are great running backs, teams never know who is going to run it,” Keefe said.

McCauley was very happy in 10th grade when Keefe joined the program, and he knew he could be special.

“I got a new phone the other day and was going through the old photos and we have a picture of Brady, I think it was in sixth grade at our youth football clinic,” McCauley said. “We thought he was going to play modified football, he didn’t the next thing we didn’t see him until he was a 10th grader, and we were really happy to see him. He was ripping off some runs at that time we had him at fullback on the JV squad and we knew hew was going to be with us real quick.”

For Keefe as an Elmira standout it’s special to be recognized with an award named after Davis.

“I look up to the guy every day, he’s an inspiration to every running back,” Keefe said. “It’s great to bring it back to Elmira.”

It’s special for the Express to see the award coming back to Elmira.

“We like to say it’s back where it belongs,” McCauley said. “The home of ErnieDavis. It just speaks to the caliber of guys. You ask Brady, that award is for the team, it is for the community, it just goes to show you how hard they work, how much they care.”

Keefe would love to see his teammates in the future work to win the award.

“I hope everyone strives to get this award and puts in their best effort,” he said.

McCauley would love to see the award stay right in Elmira.

“You are darn straight,” he said. “We are going to give it our best effort. We are going to make sure that thing stays here.”
IN TOP PHOTO: Elmira’s Brady Keefe and coach Jimmy McCauley. . . .PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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