Kason Key's breakout season came in 2010. But his most important season at Owasso was back in 2009, when Key was only a sophomore.
He had just made the leap from freshman ball to varsity, partly because of talent, and partly because the Rams only had one other quarterback on the depth chart.
The plan for Key was simple. Learn the offense behind starter Joe Lindsey, eventually easing his way into a more prominent role.
But there would be no easing.
Days before the season was to begin, Lindsey went down with a broken collarbone in a scrimmage.
With no other options, coach Bill Patterson turned to the sophomore.
“We opened up with Muskogee, Broken Arrow and Jenks, so it wasn't the ideal situation to throw him in,” Patterson said. “That is as rugged as it gets, so he had to be pretty tough mentally to get through.”
And naturally, Key experienced some growing pains. After defeating Muskogee in the opener, the Rams lost to Broken Arrow and Jenks by a combined score of 69-3.
“It was way different than freshman ball, almost shocked me a little at first,” Key said. “But it couldn't be trial and error. I had to step up for my team.”
And Key did step up, leading his team to wins in five of the next six games. The more experience he got, the more confident he became.
By the time Lindsey had recovered from his injury, Patterson was forced to switch him to receiver. Key had solidified the quarterback position.
“There is a real danger there when you throw a sophomore in like that,” Patterson said. “Sometimes you are never the same. You can either benefit from it, or it can crush you. Fortunately for us, he came through it well.”
And that personal success translated into team success in 2010.
Key threw for 2,131 yards and 19 touchdowns. Owasso went 8-5, winning two playoff games and reaching the 6A semifinals.
“I felt really good about what we accomplished,” Key said. “It was a little frustrating that we didn't make it farther. But with our young team, it was definitely a step forward.
Key and the rest of his Owasso teammates hope they can make bigger strides this season.
They are returning talent on both sides of the ball and have developed a new offseason strength program that Patterson said has provided tangible results.
“We are a much stronger football team now than we were at this time last year,” Patterson said. “Kason has taken advantage and added some arm strength.”
Along with the added bulk, Key, who is No. 21 on The Oklahoman's Super 30 list of top high school recruits, believes his mental approach has grown over time.
Entering his third season as the starting quarterback, which is rare at the high school level, Key has taken command of his team.
“He is trying to be more active as a senior and being a leader,” Patterson said. “He is a young man who has his teammates' respect and they will follow him.”
Oklahoman Super 30 No. 21: Kason Key Position: Quarterback Height: 6-4 Weight: 215 pounds Offers: Interest from several schools, including Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.