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Keontez Bradley opens eyes with his Mehock performance

As he watched his son, all sinew and speed, zoom down the straightaway at the 89th Mehock Relays, Mansfield Senior football coach Chioke Bradley was probably diagramming pass plays in his head.

Even though junior Keontez Bradley is attracting major college attention as a 6-2, 175-pound cornerback, he was mostly an afterthought on offense last fall for the Tygers, playing some in the slot.

But that’s going to change. And Chioke Bradley realizes it has to change after watching his son sweep the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes at the 24-team Mehock. 

When his remarkable day was complete, Keontez looked like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps with those three gold medals dangling from his neck at Mehock Field.

“Oh, we will (use him on offense) this year … we’ve already discussed that,” the elder Bradley said, smiling. “He’s going to be our take-the-top-off guy on the outside. He’ll definitely be a guy stretching the field for us.”

Keontez won the Mehock 100 in 11.23, the 200 in 22.44 and the 400 in 51.92 after having already run two prelim races a couple of hours earlier.

“I always knew he was fast,” Chioke Bradley said. “He gave up basketball (this year) and ran indoor track, and I think that was a blessing. He’s a hard worker and has that competitive nature. He’s an alpha athlete. He doesn’t ever want to be out-worked and he hates to lose.”

Keontez won the Mehock 100 in 11.23, the 200 in 22.44 and the 400 in 51.92 after having already run two prelim races a couple of hours earlier.

“I always knew he was fast,” Chioke Bradley said. “He gave up basketball (this year) and ran indoor track, and I think that was a blessing. He’s a hard worker and has that competitive nature. He’s an alpha athlete. He doesn’t ever want to be out-worked and he hates to lose.”

“We left it up to him after he had that good time in the dual meet (with Mount Vernon). He was excited about it, so I left it up to him what he would do (at the Mehock). But he's going to do both (hurdles and sprints) and we’ll watch to see which way we’re going to go (for the post-season).”

Maybe the most impressive part of Keontez’ breakout performance at the Mehock was his ability to win the 100 from lane 2 instead of the middle of the track in lane 4 or 5, which are reserved for the fastest runners in the prelims. 

Psychologically, sometimes running in an outside lane makes it hard for the runner to feel like he’s “in” the race. But it didn’t seem to bother Keontez.

“It’s not supposed to be like that,” he said of acing his Lane 2 assignment. “In the prelims, I didn’t really get that explosion that I wanted to. It was cold, so I went over to the backstretch, smoothed all of that out and ran a good race (in the finals).

“I got some explosion out of the blocks and the last 20 meters is when it really came out in my favor.”

Keontez ran the 400 indoors, but Mehock was the first time he tackled that test of speed and stamina outdoors.

“I just run,” he said. “I just know I have the ability God gave me to run fast. So I’m going to use it.

“(The 400) is one of the hardest races on the track, for sure. It decides who the real athletes are. You’ve got to have it in you. You can’t be scared of it. You’ve got to attack it and you’ve got to be ready for the competition.”

It’s been quite a school year for the Bradley siblings. Myles, a senior, and Mekhi, a junior, joined their father, a former defensive back, as first team All-Ohioans for the Tygers. Myles was the Division III Northwest District Offensive Player of the Year and Mekhi was the Northwest District Defensive Player of the Year.

Mekhi went on to receive more All-Ohio honors during the winter, earning a seventh-place medal in wrestling. 

And now here comes Keontez. He may own the spring, if his Mehock performance is any indication. And come next fall, maybe he will be able to compensate for Myles’ lost production on the offensive side of the ball. 

Myles had 47 catches for 847 yards (17.7 average) and nine touchdowns last fall, including multiple 80-yard scoring receptions.

Keontez, potentially, could put up those same kind of numbers. Or exceed them. That is, when he isn’t picking off passes in the secondary.

“It will be good (for added exposure as a college football prospect) if he keeps doing what he’s doing in track,” Chioke Bradley said. “And it’s early in the season. This was only our second track meet. So he’s going to continue to get better. The weather will get better and his times will drop even more.”

The evaluation period for college football programs recently opened and Chioke Bradley said Penn State, West Virginia and some Mid-American Conference schools are planning to pay a visit to the Mansfield Senior campus and possibly pop in at Mehock Field to watch a Tygers’ track practice.

Kent State has already offered Keontez a football scholarship.

“I’m a football player first, for sure,” he said. “I love playing corner. I’ll play some wideout, but corner is where I really stand out.

“We’re in the weight room right now and on the field after every track practice to get some DB (defensive back) practice in.” 


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