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Hopperton, Sell complete historic football careers

Hopperton, Sell complete historic football careers


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Portage County has been the home of a long list of very special high school football players.

Standouts that caught the spotlight of statewide attention.

Phenoms with decorated four-year careers that rewrote school history books.

Two more authored their historic final chapters in 2023.

Garfield’s Keegan Sell.

Streetsboro’s Preston Hopperton.

Both burst onto the scene as freshmen promising newcomers and both never settled in the off-seasons to just be good players.

They were destined to become great players, thrusting each of their teams into championship and playoff excellence.

Here is a snapshot of their careers and personalities as two of Portage County’s greatest football players.




  • 2023 Offensive Stats: 127 carries, 1,389 yards rushing, 6 receptions, 184 receiving yards, 27 touchdowns, 162 points.
  • 2023 Defensive Stats: 210 tackles, 4 fumble recoveries, 6 forced fumbles, 4 sacks, 33 tackles for loss.
  • Career Defensive Stats: 588 tackles, 89 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, 9 fumbles recovered.
  • School Records: Eight.
  • Accolades: OPSWA Division V Defensive Player of the Year, Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Northeast Inland District Defensive Player of the Year.


Garfield coach Mike Moser talking about Keegan Sell:

Garfield senior running back Keegan Sell runs into open space on Friday.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

Q: What was the biggest difference in Keegan’s development from his freshman season to his senior season?

A: Physically, Keegan grew and got a lot stronger in the weight room, but he also became a student of the game, a great film watcher and was able to pick some things up.



Q: What allowed Keegan to become one of the greatest players in Portage County history?

A: His work ethic is off the charts. It is always a special combination when great athletes are also the hardest workers on the team. Keegan is the most coachable player I have had the opportunity to coach. He is always very humble, looking to give credit elsewhere whenever possible. He really enjoyed being coached hard and totally immersed himself in the process every week of preparing, lifting, training. Physically, Keegan is certainly gifted, but he really maximizes his potential with good, old fashioned work.



Q: Explain what you enjoyed most about coaching Keegan?

A: Keegan has played a huge role in the success of our program over the past four years. Our seniors leave with a regular-season record of 36-2, three undefeated seasons, three league titles and four playoff appearances, which is a pretty incredible run. But Keegan’s impact goes  beyond the wins and losses. He was not only a great player on both sides of the ball, as well as on special teams, he was also an incredible leader. I know his teammates all really looked up to him, and he helped set the tone every single day. He has helped bring a lot of joy to fans and the community during his time here.



Q: Describe what Keegan meant to your team’s success — physically as a player, mentally as a locker room and team leader, outwardly as a positive member in the community and reflection of the program?

A: It really was amazing. Several other players helped to take the load off of Keegan during the season, but no doubt, teams were gameplanning on how to stop and block him. This is the problem great players present to other staffs. It takes a special player and person to still be able to succeed at the levels Keegan did, especially considering his relatively low number of snaps played for a large part of the season. Simply put, Keegan is an amazing athlete and an even better young man off the field.




  • 2023 Offensive Stats: 160 carries, 1,461 rushing yards, 46 receptions, 972 receiving yards, 46 touchdowns, 264 points (third-most in Portage County history).
  • Career Offensive Stats: 125 receptions, 2,480 receiving yards, 93 touchdowns (31 receiving, 62 rushing), 584 points, 3,230 rushing yards.
  • School Records: Eight.
  • Accolades: OPSWA Division IV First Team All-Ohio, Metro Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Northeast Inland District First Team.


Streetsboro head coach Pete Thompson speaking about Preston Hopperton:

Streetsboro senior running back Preston Hopperton sprints ahead for yards after contact.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

Q: What was the biggest difference in Preston’s development from his freshman season to his senior season?

A: The biggest area of development that Preston has shown from freshman to senior season is his confidence level. As a freshman, he struggled at first to adjust to high-school football compared to middle school. His freshman year (2020) was arguably the best team in school history. He was a 14-year-old nervous, unsure freshman at the start of the season. However, as the season moved along, his confidence level grew and grew due to his success on the JV team. By the end of the season, he was competing against our varsity guys on the scout teams on a daily basis and the older players knew he could be special. From that point on, his confidence level started to blossom and grew from one year to the next.



Q: What allowed Preston to become one of the greatest players in Portage County history?

A: Genetics: He has been gifted with great physical attributes. He is a unique combination of size, speed and power. He has run a 10.8 100-meter dash in track and bench presses over 350 pounds and squats close to 500 pounds, and he weighs 185.

Off-season dedication: He is a weight-room junkie and spends countless hours working on his body and developing strength and speed.

Ball skills: He has elite hand-eye coordination, and has an uncanny knack for adjusting to balls in the air.

Work ethic: He exemplifies the old coaching adage, “Special things happen when your best player is also your hardest working player.” His work ethic in season and in the off-season separates him from others with similar natural talent.

Knowledge of the game: His knowledge and understanding of our offense has enabled us to move him seamlessly from position to position during his career and particularly his senior year. He is a high academic student in the classroom and that carries over to football and has made him a much more versatile offensive weapon.

Humility: It leads to his coachability. He is the first person to attribute his success to his teammates and coaches.



Q: Explain what you enjoyed most about coaching Preston?

A: The thing that I enjoyed most about coaching Preston over the years was his availability. We often preach to players in our program that the best ability is availability. From day one in our program, Preston always made himself available to do anything asked of him. On the field, in the weight room, cleaning the locker room, off-season skill sessions, youth camps, leadership training, fundraisers. He showed up every day with a positive attitude, with the same demeanor and work ethic. A head coach could ask for nothing more from their best athlete.



Q: Describe what Preston meant to your team’s success — physically as a player, mentally as a locker room and team leader, outwardly as a positive member in the community and reflection of the program?

A: He was certainly the catalyst of our offense. Obviously, coming off of a tremendous sophomore campaign and an All-Ohio junior year, we knew he would be the foundation of what we wanted to do this season, but he far exceeded any expectations we had for him. He was just as dangerous when not getting the ball. His motions, meshes, route running and ball fakes opened up opportunities for all of our skill players in the offense.



Q: Explain how amazed you were that Preston continued to be the player he was, fully knowing that the opposition was 100 percent gameplanning to try to contain him as much as possible.

A: His unique physical traits, combined with his astute aptitude of our offensive playbook, allowed our offensive coaching staff to move him from position to position and change his origin point from formation to formation and play to play. Every defense we played gameplanned and tried to schematically take him away. However, this was obviously difficult for them to do considering that he could align at any skill position and then often go into motion. Coupled with his sheer athleticism, it was difficult for teams to contain him. There were times when defenses had the play diagnosed, and he simply ran through them with his power or by them with his speed. He is the single-most versatile offensive player I have coached.

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