Friday, August 20, 2010
Lazarius Chase: DDT Preseason Def. Player of the Year
HOLLANDALE – Last week in a preseason game against Forest Hill, a Patriot running back thought he could make it down the sidelines before the nearest defender could reach him.
Either he overestimated his speed, or he forgot that Lazarius Chase was on the field. Whichever it was, it was a bad decision. The bruising Simmons High linebacker chased him down and – in his own way – introduced him to the Delta.
But Chase, a 6-foot, 220 pound senior, isn’t just a one-play wonder; he has a full body of work to back him up.
And for that reason, he’s been named the first-ever Delta Democrat Times’ Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Last year, Chase racked up nearly 100 tackles to go along with six sacks. The Blue Devils finished 10-2 before falling to Ackerman in the Class 2A playoffs. This season, will be different, Chase hopes.
“We want to accomplish a state championship,” said Chase, who added that he’s received interest from several colleges including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt Jackson State and Alcorn State.
Simmons is known statewide for their stingy defense. However, last year’s defensive leader Carlos Thompson is now playing at Ole Miss. But the Blue Devils have a crew ready to step up to the plate, said Chase.
“I want us to have the best defense like we have the last five years that I’ve been playing,” he said.
Along with Thompson’s leadership, SHS will be without the 14 sacks he racked up last year. But Blue Devil coach – and Thompson’s father – Carlos Thompson, Sr. believes Chase and the rest of the team have what it takes to pick up the load.
“Some of the fans may think (the team) is on (Chase’s) back, but the way they’ve been working and performing, I think (Carlos, Jr.) and that group more so left a trademark. And these guys are trying to follow up on that trademark.
“They don’t want to be the one’s to let it down. We had nine shutouts last year and I think this group wants the same thing…..I think (this year’s team) is springing forward to live up to what they have.”
And what they have may be one of the state’s best hidden gems. Chase said he’s heard about some of Mississippi’s other prep linebackers getting recognized, and he feels he belongs right in that group of prospects.
“I think I’m neck-to-neck (amongst them),” Chase said. “I have potential – like a lot of people say – and I feel like I’m probably better than some of those players that’s top-ranked.
“But I’m going to let my actions talk for me.”
Chase directs the defense from his middle linebacker spot, but he’s been known to make plays on offense and special teams as well.
“We’re able to use him in all facets of the game. We’re able to use him offensively and defensively. And sometimes we use him on special teams because he has played it before,” said coach Thompson. “He’s like a utility player. But we like him most at middle linebacker.”
The Blue Devils have a host of seniors this year to help Chase carry the load, but he’s knows as he goes – so does the team.
“I feel like I’m the leader of the defense. Most of the guys look up to me as a big brother just like I did Carlos (Jr.) last year.”