Other than the fact that he is about half a foot taller than the average crowd and considerably larger in size, junior Keller Chryst looks like any other Paly student. He reads books and watches TV just like other students; however, Chryst is not spending time with The Hunger Games or “Modern Family.” Rather, he is busy studying playbooks and game film so that come Friday night, he is ready to take the field confidently with a determination to destroy his opponent.
Standing at six-foot-four-inches, 230 pounds, Chryst is Paly’s starting quarterback for the second straight year.
After moving to California last year from North Carolina, Chryst is feeling much more confident compared to his previous season.
“Of course a year under the system helps,” Chryst said. “I understand the offense better, I know the other guys on the team better and I know what to expect from our opponents.”
Along with a new level of comfort from his year of experience with the team, Chryst also has a new outlook on the game.
“I am going to take it one practice and game at a time, take nothing for granted and eventually win state,” Chryst said.
After losing in the Central Coast Section (CCS) Championship game last year to Bellarmine High School, Chryst knew exactly what he and his teammates would have to do this season in order to improve both physically and mentally.
“We’ve worked really hard in the weight room as well as in the film room,” Chryst said.
Varsity football head coach Earl Hansen has noticed the amount of work and effort his team has put in and has a positive feeling towards the upcoming season.
“We have very high expectations for the season, but that’s normal for Palo Alto football,” Hansen said.
Hansen also expressed how Keller has progressed and matured over the course of a year.
“He grew up,” Hansen said. “He is physically stronger, he knows the system and he knows the kids, all of his friends, better. He is not the brand new kid anymore.”
To reach this sort of level, a long and extensive background of football is needed. Chryst started playing football when he was about nine years old and has played it ever since.
“I was attracted to football because it seemed fun,” Chryst said. “If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t be playing today.”
Even though football may seen like all fun and games, it is not. To get to a high level of competition and to succeed with the best teams in the league, a significant amount of time and work must be put in.
“On average, I put in about three to six hours of training a day, including practice and film,” Chryst said.
To this day, the challenge with high school sports is how they affect school work and other aspects of a student’s life.
The challenges of junior year are known by many and are not new or shocking, yet having an extracurricular occupying about half of the day and managing everything can be just as challenging as getting ready for a game against the toughest team in the nation. Chryst is aware of these conflicts but is not too preoccupied by them.
“Football takes up a lot of time, but it is worth it,” Chryst said. “There is still time to get other things done. If I had to rank the two [football and school], school ranks higher than football.”
Chryst has turned into quite the celebrity on and off the field at Paly. Students who see Chryst around campus view him with a sense of admiration; they are enthralled by his mere presence.
“Keller’s massive,” an anonymous freshman said. “He seems pretty timid but his overall presence is just awesome.”
This presence also translates onto the football field where Hansen and Chryst’s fellow teammates view him the with similar respect.
“[Chryst] leads through his hard work every day at practice,” junior captain Andrew Frick said. “He never slows down, and he is always pushing everyone to do more.”
Due to his impressive stature and ability, colleges have already begun reaching out to Chryst, verbally. Technically, Chryst can not sign any offer presented before him until he is a senior, but without a doubt that will not stop colleges from reaching out to him. Two of the Pacific Coast Conference’s (PAC-12) major football powerhouses, USC and Stanford, ranked No. 13 and No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll as of Sept. 16, respectively, have already reached out to Chryst personally.
“I like what I’ve seen so far,” Chryst said. “Those two schools are definitely some of my top choices.”
Along with this, Hansen has also coached college talent athletes and without a doubt he knows Chryst is a very gifted athlete who can easily make it in collegiate football.
“[Chryst] is going to be recruited by half the country,” Hansen said.
After college, Chryst hopes to one day make it all the way to the National Football League.
“Ever since I started playing,” Chryst said, “I’ve always wanted to make it to the league.”