Story and Photo by Wendy Smith – Fan Zone
There’s nothing quite like growing up in a football town. The smell of the fresh-cut grass, the roar of the fans, and the Friday night lights, well, there is nothing like it.
Keota High School senior Jance Welch knows all about the in’s and out’s of growing up in a small football town. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I grew up in a football town,” said the senior quarterback. “I’ve been playing football since before I could remember. I’ve always looked up to the older guys and wanted to be a part of it.”
Welch grew up in a home that ate and slept football. His older sister was a varsity cheerleader, and his older brother Jace also played as quarterback for the Keota Lions. So when I asked him who he looked up to the most, he didn’t hesitate to respond.
“My brother, Jace Welch. He was also known as a great football player at Keota High School,” he said with a smile. “To have him step in as assistant coach for my senior year meant a lot to me. It was a pleasure to have him by my side for my final year.”
It is safe to say that Welch has been around people that have loved the game throughout his life. But that doesn’t give you the complete picture. For example, one of the biggest influencers I have not mentioned is his step-dad and coach, Eric Henry.
“I couldn’t ask for anything better than playing for my step-dad,” he said. “He pushed me to be the best I could be. He has helped me become who I am today.”
The athleticism of Welch truly shined under the Friday night lights for the Lions. He hung up his jersey with 3,818 rushing yards, 62 TD’s, 836 receiving yards, 1,681 passing yards, 24 touchdowns in the air, and 11 on the ground. In addition, he totaled 208 tackles, three sacks, 12 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, and four special team touchdowns on the defensive side.
Keota Football is Family. Welch talked about the bond he shares with his teammates.
“It’s a brotherhood that runs deep in our veins that can never break.”
It’s a kinship that Welch will miss most about the Friday night lights.
The 2022 senior has also been active in FFA for five years, FCCLA three years, and basketball. In his spare time, Welch likes to chill out and hang with “his boys”.