CENTRAL – For Central High’s defense, putting together a strong performance is all about confidence and trust.
Senior linebacker Drew Lasseigne, who makes the defensive calls for Central’s linebackers and defensive line, epitomizes that trust.
“A lot of times I just call what the coaches call,” Lasseigne said. “But sometimes they say, ‘Drew, if you see something then check into it.’ They’ll show me another team’s tendency when we watch film, but they’re not out on the field with me so we have to have a good trusting relationship.”
Trust was needed early in the season when Central lost its first three games.
Consecutive wins over District 4-5A foes Scotlandville and Belaire have given the Wildcats (2-3, 2-0) a shot of confidence, and it will come in handy when they travel to No. 9 Live Oak (4-1, 1-1) to District 4-5A play at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but it’s all about adjusting,” said Lasseigne, a first team all-district selection as a junior. “I think we’ve gotten better every single week. It’s just everybody doing their role and doing their part.”
Lasseigne knows what kind of success Central can have when everyone does their part. As a starting catcher and pitcher for the Wildcats two-time defending state championship winning baseball team, Lasseigne’s role changed sometimes from game to game.
Likewise, Lasseigne has carried a do-whatever-is-needed mentality on the football field since he began playing varsity as a sophomore. That season, he saw playing time on special teams and eventually some offensive line, an area where the Wildcats were thin. As a junior, Lasseigne moved into a starting linebacker spot, and has been there since.
But, starting or not starting, when Lasseigne looks at his teammates, he only sees players who want to contribute to the team’s success.
“On this team, there’s no starters and nonstarters, there’s just 20 or 30 guys that we can run out there and we can trust,” Lasseigne said. “It’s doing your part, doing your 1/11th and if everyone does their 1/11th then we’re going to be fine. “
Players doing their part was also important last season, when Central had a 1-3 hole it had to dig out of. The Wildcats responded to adversity with three consecutive wins, a streak punctuated by a Central defense that held each of the three opponents to 162 yards or less.
Fast forward to the 2018 season, and the defense has again been salty.
The Wildcats have picked themselves up after an 0-3 start.
In a 12-6 win over Scotlandville, Central held the Hornets scoreless until their final possession of the game with Lasseigne turning in a dominant performance that included two sacks while also recovering a fumble that he forced.
Last week against Belaire, Central got a 38-0 shutout win. In that game, they forced five turnovers and held the Bengals to 72 total yards.
For Central to replicate the three-game win streak it had last season, it will also need a repeat performance against Live Oak, a team the Wildcats defeated 31-25.
“(Live Oak) was a quarterfinal team last year, and they deserve a lot of respect for everything they’ve done,” Lasseigne said. “They’re a real physical football team, they’re solid and they play well together, but anything is possible. I’m confident in my guys that we can match up against anybody.”