Basile junior running back Kendrick Ceaser. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Monday, September 09, 2013 10:44 PM
As bells, whistles and trickery become more prominent in all levels of football, there’s one truth that has held through the game’s evolution — speed kills.
That truth couldn’t be more evident in the case of Basile junior running back Kendrick Ceaser.
After a sophomore season where he rushed for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, which led to his being named the small school Player of the Year in Southwest Louisiana, it’s safe to say the speedy junior will be the focal point of every defense on the Bearcats’ schedule this season.
However, that won’t stop him from making an impact on both sides of the ball.
In Basile’s 27-6 season-opening win over Sacred Heart Friday night, Ceaser scored two touchdowns over 50 yards, a 50-yard interception return and a 52-yard run. He finished the game with 105 yards on 18 carries.
As impressive as the output was, it could’ve been much more eye-popping according to Basile head coach Tony Bertrand.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot,” Bertrand said. “He (Ceaser) had an 80-yard touchdown called back and a 30-yard touchdown called back. We weren’t able to capitalize on that. That was a concern of mine, the penalties that caused that stuff to happen. He really had a good game offensively I felt.
“The stats kind of misled. At the end of the game I kind of said ‘It seemed like you were close to 200 yards’. But when you add up all the penalties that brought those two long touchdown runs back, it sort of made sense.”
While the numbers are gaudy, Ceaser is taking a greater responsibility on defense.
“I love playing both sides,” Ceaser said. “I like to be in the game making things happen whenever possible.
“I like playing defense more this year than last year because that’s what helps you win the game. That’s what it starts with and I take it upon myself to do all I can to help us win.”
In fact, that quote should be taken literally. Ceaser hardly leaves the field for the Bearcats. When he’s not starring at running back or in the defensive backfield, Ceaser moonlights as a kick returner.
Don’t think teams don’t notice that he’s ever-present.
“They (opposing teams) try to kick the ball away,” he said. “They’ll kick it away or short so I can’t get to it.”
It’s that triple-threat aspect that makes him such an asset to Basile, who advanced to the quarterfinals last season and lost to Kentwood after a 9-1 regular season.
“The thing with him is he makes things happen,” Bertrand said. “He likes carrying the ball. He never gets tired. He could slip through a real small crack. We won’t have to open up big, gaping holes for him. If the defense plays it right he’ll find somewhere else to run it.
“Defensively, I think he’s turning into a good defensive back as well. He has a nose for the ball and he comes up and tackles well. So, he’s not just a good running back. He’s a very exciting player to watch.”
With teams scheming and evolving to counter Ceaser, Bertrand and his staff have to do likewise as well.
“When a team will possibly shut down our running game, I’ve got some things to do,” he said. “Maybe split him out and try to get him the ball in different kind of ways. Whether that be sweeps, motions, jet sweeps or throwing the ball, we’re going to get him the ball in some kind of way. He’ll have his opportunities. We just have to find the best matchups as possible.”
So Basile and Ceaser move along with the evolution of opponents, doing all they can to give its star an opportunity to succeed.
Ceaser, despite his young age, realizes that he too must take a bigger responsibility because of previous successes.
“I try to be a leader because they expect a lot of me based on last year,” he said. “I do everything I can and help people out wherever I can. I can’t worry about what people say about me because all I can do is what I can to help out.”
So, speed remains constant among everything.
That doesn’t mean the merchant can’t evolve along with the times.