ABBEVILLE — Vermilion Catholic’s Ashton Belaire came into 2021 with a target on his back.
"I think everybody knew he was something they had to deal with on Friday nights, and he was coming back,” Eagles head coach Broc Prejean said. “I don't think he added pressure to himself. I think he just played within the defense, took his opportunities over there, and he just doesn't miss tackles.”
Belaire was the Defensive MVP of District 7-1A as a sophomore, but his junior season was on a different level. The linebacker had 132 takedowns, 13 tackles for loss, and four sacks, which were all career highs. He was named Defensive MVP once again.
"I mean, it didn't matter,’ Belaire said. “It's just playing football no matter what they could gameplan for us, doesn't matter. I'm going to get around the gap, and that's just my mindset."
Standing at 5-foot-11, 190lbs, Belaire's success is a result of his skill, plus his will to be the best on the field. From extra workouts to watching hours of film, Belaire treats football like a full-time job.
"Summer is what's going to get us there,” Belaire said. “This is the hard part. Playing the games is the easy part. I’m working out and 100% taking it seriously. I'm getting in trouble at school watching film on my Chromebook. That's just what I do.”
“Andrew Stevenson comes to mind,” Prejean said. “Just because you couldn't get Andrew out of the cages and Ashton is very similar to that. He takes it personally. He's going to make sure he's the last one in the weight room. He's going to make sure he's the last one in the locker room. It's impressive at times. It's almost annoying. I have to say, look man, I'm trying to go to dinner tonight. He'll tell you I just want to get an arm pump. It'll take 10 minutes.”
If linebacker is his main gig, Belaire will be making some extra cash in the backfield this season. On offense, he will switch from tight end to his natural position of running back.
“I'm ready to run the ball,” Belaire said. “I’m a downhill running back. I'm not trying to get around the edges. I'm trying to go through kids. That's my thing: I love running the ball. It's fun for me.”
“Our mentality is spreading teams out with getting the ball into the hands of guys that impact the game,” Prejean said. “We have to find ways to get him the ball at least five to 10 times a game. In the backfield, that makes it simple.”
Belaire could put himself in rare air if he gets a three-peat as District. But any award pales in comparison to his goal as a senior.
“I'd rather have a ring on my finger than the district MVP,” Belaire said. “If we win the state championship, that'll come.”
Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere.
To reach the newsroom or report a typo/correction, click HERE.
Sign up for newsletters emailed to your inbox. Select from these options: Breaking News, Evening News Headlines, Latest COVID-19 Headlines, Morning News Headlines, Special Offers