It is the night of Sept. 28, 2018 at Burleson Independent School District Stadium. Centennial is clutching a 17-7 lead over district foe Midlothian with around six minutes left when Spartans senior quarterback Kyle Burns gives the ball to then-junior Jeff Kirven.
Kirven, who would emerge as the program’s leading rusher that year, takes off on a 75-yard scamper to the end zone to put the visiting Panthers away for good. Centennial wins, 24-7, thanks to Kirven’s Herculean line of 169 yards on 19 carries and the go-ahead touchdown.
According to Spartans head coach Kyle Geller, Kirven brings a solid combination of strength and speed to Centennial’s triple-option scheme.
Geller considers the 2018 victory over Midlothian very memorable for the 5-foot-7-inch, 160-pound Kirven. He also recalled the three-year letterman, who plays fullback but not in the traditional sense given his small stature, breaking as many as seven tackles on a 60-yard touchdown run during a playoff game against Dallas Kimball, a whopping 70-12 victory for the Spartans.
“It’s hard for defenses to actually see him when he’s running through the hole,” Geller, the school’s first and only head football coach, told Texas Scorecard. “But he has that explosion when he finds a seam. Once he breaks through the front seven, it’s tough on the defense. He’s not just going to get you 10 or 15 yards. He’s going to the house.”
“He has a cut-on-the-dime ability that you can’t teach,” Geller said. “Either you have it or you don’t. He can accelerate fast. It doesn’t take him long to get going. I would say that’s his best attribute as a runner.”
The Spartans have a run-heavy offense with Kirven serving as one of its main spark plugs along with backfield comrade and fellow senior Jaylon Jackson. Last year, Kirven helped Centennial garner more than 2,500 rushing yards and is performing effectively in his final season in the blue, silver and gray thus far.
“It’s kind of mirrored last year as far as his yardage,” Geller said. “He really started breaking out around this time. I’m hoping we could [duplicate] that.”
Centennial was preparing to square off with undefeated Midlothian as of press time. Geller hoped that déjà vu would happen for Kirven on the Panthers’ turf.
As the Spartans move forward with district play, Geller expects the team to be more consistent.
“There will be times when we run on down the field like it’s nothing and then the next time … we have a turnover, an assignment bust or snapping the ball over the quarterback’s head in the gun” Geller said. “So, by eliminating mistakes and not hurting ourselves, we’re pretty hard to stop.”
Rest assured that Centennial can count on Kirven, who Geller described as “one of [his] favorites” and praised for his toughness and his fun-loving nature, to help guide the Spartans to another playoff appearance.
“I want him with me if I was [in a battle],” the coach said. “He’s not going to back down from anybody. He’s not going to run. That’s the kind of kid he is. That’s a good quality to have.”