ABBEVILLE — Last year, Vermilion Catholic went undefeated in the regular season sweeping District 8-1-A.
The Eagles' defense didn't allow any more than 21 points in a game until their only loss in the semi-finals.
A big credit for that stout defense is the heart of their linebacker group.
"I think he knows the team has some unfinished business and he's going to be a figure head for us to get there," says Vermilion head coach Broc Prejean.
Some leaders are chosen by grade, others by skill. Vermilion Catholic's Ashton Belaire is an ideal blend of both.
"He's a terrific kid. He works hard, he never leaves the weight room and he studies film. He's a leader on our defensive side for sure."
"I take good pride in my leadership honestly. I think setting a good example for those younger guys is a big thing for this team," says Belaire.
But that wasn't always the case for Belaire. He witnessed the action from the sideline his freshman year, but fought to his way to a starting spot entering 2020.
"I hate sitting on the sidelines that's miserable to me," Belaire explains. "Doing that my freshman year motivated me to get better. That gave me a little more drive to do more and put more work in for that starting position"
As a sophomore, he finished with 88 tackles, 3 sacks and a pick six. The linebacker was awarded the district 8-1A Defensive MVP.
"At the end of the year when you looked at the numbers they just stuck out. You knew that people weren't going to be able to ignore and you saw that what was on paper and what he had accomplished during the season," Coach Prejean explains.
But its not just his sophomore success that's driven him this offseason. Instead, his shortcomings. In the Division 4 semi-finals, an encounter with Ouachita Christian quarterback,
Hunter Herring motivated him to bulk up.
"We were on the one-yard line and I go to tackle him and he bulldozed me", Belaire elaborates. "I could've had a safety but I wasn't big enough to bring him down right there. So that put pressure on me to put a little more weight on this year"
This summer, he's grown from 165 pounds to a chiseled 185. With the Eagles only having 3 starters returning on offense, he'll be moving from running back to tight end.
"Learning all the passing routes and everything was tough at first and starting to get the hang of it but I got to do whats best for the team."
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