The town of Beckley will never be confused with Gotham City.
However, the senior combo of quarterback Maddex McMillen and wideout Keynan Cook have given the City of Champions it’s own version of the “Dynamic Duo” when it comes to football.
“Those two guys are great leaders in the locker room and are also great in the classroom. Very smart kids,” Woodrow Wilson head coach Street Sarrett said. “They both are talented multi-sport kids that work really hard. I expect a big season out of them this year.”
Both players credit coach Sarrett with helping them grow into the players that they are today.
“To play for coach Sarrett you have to be a tough guy. He coaches you tough and he can be hard on you,” McMillen said. “He won’t give in. It is just the way he is and he expects a lot from people. He wants you to be the best that you can be.”
“He brings the best out of everyone that walks in here and he has always done that,” Cook said. “He is such a great coach for the kids. Coach Sarrett is a great man.”
While some combinations happen sorta out of the blue, Cook and McMillen have been a duo for quite some time.
“We have pretty much been best friends since third grade,” McMillen said. “We were the only third graders to make the basketball team. Ever since then we have always been together.”
“We had nobody else then, just me and him and we have been close ever since,” Cook recalled. “It sucked in middle school because I had to go to Park my 6th and 7th grade year. I missed playing with Maddex, so we all moved to Beckley-Stratton.”
Although both players were standout athletes in middle school, both got an eye-opener entering high school as freshmen.
“As a freshman I didn’t realize how much work you had to put in to be a good player,” McMillen said. “I think I have learned that over time. I haven’t ever put in as much work as I have for this upcoming year. I am excited about this year.”
“My work ethic is crazy now. I didn’t take football all that serious when I was younger because I didn’t think I could go anywhere,” Cook said. “Then I grew and I realized I could possibly go somewhere. I told myself that if I put the work in, the rest would come. I worked hard everyday and got stronger and faster.”
That work ethic was on display for both athletes this summer with both going on a “rock star” type of whirlwind tour of camps, combines and college visits.
“I have been to a lot of places this summer. I went on a bus tour that covered 10 states, went to camps and 7-on-7’s, just a bunch of stuff. It was crazy,” McMillen said. “You don’t realize how many people are out there and how much talent there is. It was fun to compete and show everybody that we are just as prepared and work as hard as they do.”
“I have been all around the east coast on a bus tour of like 20 Division I colleges. I met a lot of new people and got a lot of exposure,” Cook said. “I have been to a lot of local camps and to the WVU camp. I went to James Madison and of course, the visit to Georgetown.
It was that visit to Georgetown that turned Cook’s hard work into a lifelong dream. The dream of playing Division I football.
I was on the bus tour at the Maryland camp and I had sprained my ankle a couple of days before that. I had taken a break, but I felt like I couldn’t waste my opportunity. They taped me up and I went out there.”
At that camp, Cook caught the attention of the Georgetown coaches who looked at his tapes and offered him a visit. It turned out to be the visit of a lifetime for Cook.
“I went there with the hopes of getting an offer, but you never know. I ended up loving it,” Cook said. “I always had the dream of playing Division I. I never let go of my dreams, but for a little bit, I wasn’t sure if I would make it in football and wondered if I should focus on basketball more. God has really blessed me.”
The football journey for Cook started as an anxious kid ready to get on the gridiron.
“I started football the first year I could. Actually I probably started a year early. I always wanted to play football,” Cook said. “My first sport was soccer because that was the only sport you could play at a young age. As soon as I could play football I did. I took a year off from football in sixth grade and played soccer again. I didn’t really like it and I went back to football. For a little while I put more time into basketball. Once I realized how good I could be at football, it became my favorite.”
Cook is also a key member and leader on the Flying Eagles’ basketball team, but last year he also put in some stellar work on the track team.
“It was my first year running track in high school. I ran hurdles in middle school and I did the long jump here and there. I was pretty good at hurdles,” Cook said. “(Woodrow Wilson head track) Coach (Stevie) Kidd and coach Sarrett ask me if I could do high jump. So, I started out doing high jump and won the first two meets. I thought, I need to run track.”
Cook not only qualified for the state meet in the high jump where he placed seventh, he also teamed up with Hezekyiah Creasy, Jacobe Harville and Ty’lai Kimball to form a strong team in the shuttle hurdle relay.
The foursome missed the state championship title by a mere .05 seconds, finishing second to Musselman.
The “Dynamic Duo” is confident that this will be a solid year for the football team. Even though the wins have been hard to come by lately, both say the excitement remains high in the locker room.
“It’s just the brotherhood that we have. It’s amazing really. We are always together doing something. We still love football and we just want to better ourselves everyday,” Cook said. “I want to break records this year. I also want to win games and help make everybody better. We have a lot of young guys, but I think it is all coming together and we will have a really good season.”