Jack Kellams’ first game as Center Grove’s starting quarterback didn’t play out as the senior had planned. He plans to have a significant say in how — and where — the season ends.

The 6-foot-3 Kellams put up mostly forgettable numbers in a Week 1 loss to Warren Central, completing just 4 of 13 passes for 21 yards.

The gradual improvement Kellams has demonstrated since then is one of the main reasons the Trojans — the No. 3-ranked squad in Class 6A — are in a position to possibly defend the state championship the program won last November.

In the eight games since that season-opening defeat, Kellams is a combined 47 of 76 passing (61.8 percent) for 745 yards with nine touchdowns and not a single interception.

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“The first game of the season, I knew it was going to be a tough game. There are a lot of different plays I wish I had back,” Kellams said. “As the season has gone on, I’ve been a lot more confident and had a lot more fun.”

Kellams, the Trojans’ junior varsity signal-caller and backup to former quarterback Joey Siderewicz the past two seasons, said everything began clicking for him as the Trojans were scoring a 19-6 victory against Carmel in Week 3.

“After that, I definitely felt that it’s my team now,” Kellams said.

He sustained a minor concussion the following week in a 20-7 triumph at Ben Davis, but returned against North Central in Week 5 to complete all but one of his 13 passes for 184 yards and a pair of scoring tosses.

Against Cathedral two weeks ago, Kellams established career highs in both passing yardage (212) and touchdowns (five).

Corralling every one of the touchdown passes in the 44-41 overtime win was versatile Trojan senior Russ Yeast. The duo teamed up for TDs covering 60, 11, 53, 33 and 7 yards.

“Jack had zero varsity experience coming into the season,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said. “He was a little overwhelmed in the Warren Central game but has really become a crafty passer.

“He’s that perfect big, strong pocket quarterback, and as good a passer as we’ve ever had here.”

The only boy in a family of five children, Kellams has ties to Indiana football royalty. His late great-grandfather, Len Will Sr., was a two-time All-City fullback while playing for Evansville Reitz High School during the mid-1930s.

Will went on to star at Columbia University — the school retired his No. 30 — and later returned to Evansville to be head coach at Reitz from 1949-68.

He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Kellams still has cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents residing in and around Evansville.

With Reitz being a Class 4A program, there is no chance of a postseason meeting between the Trojans and Panthers. All the same, it’s likely that an abundance of Kellams’ family would be present at Lucas Oil Stadium should Center Grove make it back to the Class 6A title game in late November.

“We definitely have a team that could be undefeated right now,” Kellams said. “We’re focused on one game at a time, but the Warren Central loss has stuck with us.”

The Kellams file

Name: Jack Kellams

Age: 18

Born: Evansville

Family: Parents Jeff and Christine; sisters Taryn, 25, Morgan, 23, Kelsey, 22, and Sydney, 21

Favorite TV show: “Criminal Minds”

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite movie: “Hoosiers”

Favorite athlete: Victor Oladipo

Favorite team: Indiana University men’s basketball

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.