REFUGIO – Jordan Kelley messaged Antwaan Gross after learning that his teammate’s brother was killed in a vehicle crash.
Kelley knows the impact his older brother had on him and wanted to help Gross cope with his loss.
“I texted her about it,” Kelley said. “He said, ‘I’m just going to do it for him from now on,’ so that’s kind of his motivation.”
Kelley and Gross have high expectations for their senior year at Refugio, which enters the season No. 1 in the Class 2A, Division I state poll.
Gross and Kelley have played together in college since they were in second year and will rarely leave the field this season.
“They’re 2A warriors, mate,” Refugio coach Jason Herring said. “There is no doubt that they are the heart and soul of our team. They were both team captains last year and will be team captains this year. They start on everything we do. There is no doubt that they are dynamic team leaders in terms of capacity and leadership.
Kelley and Gross have demonstrated their athletic ability on basketball, baseball and track teams.
Kelley recently got an offer from the University of Virginia, and Gross was chosen the MVP of the two Stephen F. Austin camps he attended over the summer.
“With these two kids, we’re so blessed because you can put them in the Wildcat quarterback, you can put them on the running back, you can put them in the niche, you can put them off,” Herring said. . “I mean they’re just amazing football players.”
Kelley credits her older brother, Jared, who is with the Chicago White Sox organization, for his competitiveness and his desire to be the best.
“Being with my brother and seeing how much work he’s done for baseball and where it’s taken him,” Kelley said. “This is how I want to be with football.”
Gross was also motivated by his family, especially his late brother, D’Angelo.
“Most definitely,” Gross said. “I miss him. He was my everything. It was always me, my brother and my sister. We were called Ed, Ed and Eddie. We were always together. We had a little threesome.
Herring not only appreciates Gross and Kelley’s athletic abilities, but is grateful for their work ethic and the example they set for the rest of the team.
“If our studs don’t, no one else will buy,” Herring said. “Having stallions that you never have to worry about – they are awesome kids. They are doing everything right. They’re breaking their tails, they’re the first in the weight room, they’re the last to go, they all have their reps and they’re running hard in their sprints. They are really good quality kids and great to have on your team.
Herring’s biggest challenge is finding ways to get Kelley and Gross involved in the game plan.
“We’re still trying to find our difference maker and we have two,” Herring said. “We find as many ways as we can to give them the ball. I never hesitated to let them take quarterback shots or play running. These two guys give us an advantage because there are a lot of different ways of giving them the ball and there are a lot of different ways of hurting people.
Kelley and Gross won a state championship in second year and are determined to do the same as the seniors.
“Jordan and I have a lot of leadership to do,” Gross said. “We have to pick everyone up when they’re feeling down. You must be there.
“Antwaan and I have been playing the leadership role since our sophomore year,” Kelley said. “This is our senior year, we have to step up our efforts and get everyone on one thing and it’s a state championship.”