Destiny was already laid out for Zack Keisel before he was even born. The Keisel name in Greybull was synonymous with success two decades before the recent graduate’s introduction into the world.
In the 1990’s there was Chad and then there was Brett. Their time on the football team briefly overlapped but their legacy remains well into 2019. One went onto become a Super Bowl Champion, the other got to say goodbye to Wyoming football in the 1995 Shrine Bowl. Twenty-four years later their lineage has come full circle.
Chad’s son, Zack, was one of the select few chosen to represent Greybull in the 2019 Shrine Bowl Game. He heard stories from his father about what it means to play in the annual all-star game. Playing in it became the dream almost instantaneously.
“It’s always been my goal,” he said. “Ever since I started strapping up pads in middle school I always wanted to.”
Since his debut season at Greybull there hasn’t been a doubt about that potential. He was fourth in the state in defensive points as a freshman. That, along with the shadows cast upon him years prior, gave way to high expectations for a sophomore season. He couldn’t match his defensive output but fulfilled a larger role on offense, including scoring 12 all-purpose touchdowns on the state runner-up team in 2016. His junior season brought a return to form on defense, giving way to his dominant senior season on both sides of the ball. Keisel finished third in average defensive points, fourth in scoring, fifth in rushing, sixth in punting and eighth in all-purpose yards out of all Class 2A football players. He was a Star-Tribune Super 25 selection as well as an all-state selection.
That lengthy resume allowed the standout to step away from the family legacy and build a reputation of his own. It also brought an invitation to the Shrine Bowl, just like his father earned. And so far it’s been as enjoyable as he heard during story time.
“It’s been going really great,” he said. “We’ve been working hard, everybody’s been working hard. Just been playing it day by day and finding new things out.”
The defense, which Keisel will predominantly play on this Saturday, has gotten to about 90 percent of the playbook they hope to deploy, according to the recent graduate.
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Along with the trip to the Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, his biggest takeaway from the week so far has been among the team itself. While they have gelled with each other, it’s the improvements from Day One that he’s noticed.
“Being around these guys is just awesome,” he said. “Having the competition makes you grow as a player.”
This weekend won’t be his last dose of competition on the football field. Keisel earned offers from multiple area colleges, including NCAA Division II Chadron State, before signing with NAIA Dickinson State in North Dakota. Of course, that decision brought ties with the family legacy as well.
Wyomingite Michael McGuire is an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Dickinson State. Before McGuire coached at Big Horn, Sheridan (as an assistant) and Riverside, he was a quarterback at Greybull. McGuire and Brett Keisel were teammates. So the two were familiar well before the recruiting visits.
“I’m pretty excited to get up there,” Keisel said.
The new inductee into the Wyoming Hall of Keisel has already asked his famous uncle a ton of questions about football.
“Like how things went for him, what to expect, how to prepare for it,” Zack said. “Just having that kind of connection is beneficial for me.”
Zack’s career at Greybull ended weeks before the annual Super 25 banquet — just like Brett was in 1996. His high school football career will end at this weekend’s Shrine Bowl — just like his father’s in 1995. After Saturday comes and goes he’ll have left another body of work for the next Keisel to admire.