Ashford leaving blueprint for success

Quarterback leading young Bearcats by example

<p class="p1">Heading into his third and final season as Basile High’s starting quarterback, senior Dawson Ashford is hoping to leave a lasting impression on the program, which has reached the quarterfinal round of the playoffs five of the past six years, including last season.</p><p class="p5">Ashford said the biggest change over his career has been becoming a team leader.</p><p class="p5">“I improved as a leader on and off the field,” he said. “(Leadership) is a big reason for our team being successful. Without leadership there’s no success. I want the younger players to follow in our footsteps by showing them dedication, hard work, good grades, and respect for the coaches and veterans on the team. This is a big reason why Basile has been successful in the past — the older players lead by example.”</p><p class="p5">Ashford also improved on the field last year, throwing for 1,147 yards and accounting for 16 total touchdowns passing and running. His play added balance to an offense that ran for more than 2,000 yards.</p><p class="p5">Ashford said he has worked on his game each of the past three summers by attending the Manning Passing Academy camp in Thibodaux.</p><p class="p5">“I’ve learned how to make my footwork — the three- and five-step drops — better,” he said. “I worked on the deep ball and slants. The Manning camp teaches you a lot. It’s worth going to if you want to make it to the next level or make your game better. I’ve worked with North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley and other big-name players like Jalen Hurts (of Alabama) and Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham.”</p><p class="p5">Back home in Basile, many of the Bearcats gathered for informal, player-led workouts throughout the summer. Ashford said the team benefits from a strong senior class, which features all-district players in receiver Jaylen Thomas, fullback/linebacker Andre Reed and offensive/defensive lineman Gage Johnson.</p><p class="p5">“Jaylen is an extremely talented player,” Ashford said. “He’s very underrated. Not only does he run amazing routes, but he also runs a 4.4 40 and is amazing after the catch. If we need a big gain, I’m definitely throwing it up to him. He can play outside or in the slot. He’s also a great leader and one of the smartest players on the team.</p><p class="p5">“Andre is an outstanding run stopper for us; he fills holes quickly and rarely misses a tackle. He is a vocal leader for our defense. On offense he is a really hard runner and he gives the team momentum if he breaks a long run.</p><p class="p5">“Gage is a veteran on the team. He’s been starting since his freshman year. He has a lot of experience on the line which helps out the younger linemen. He knows what techniques to use as a smaller linemen so he teaches all the smaller linemen what technique they should use in a game.</p><p class="p5">“Our running backs know that they want to run behind him when he is pulling or when they are running to his side. He also helps us on defense and he’s one of the smartest players on the team.”</p><p class="p5">Ashford is hoping to reach big goals this year.</p><p class="p5">“My goals are to lead this team past the quarterfinals and reach 2,000 passing yards,” he said.</p><p class="p5">The Bearcats face a daunting schedule that includes a pair of nondistrict games against area rivals and a Week 5 game against defending District 4-1A champion St. Edmund.</p><p class="p5">Ashford said he’s looking forward to the series of big games.</p><p class="p5">“Iota, Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, St. Edmund and Elton, those are our top rivals,” he said. “The energy in these games is unlike any other. Against each of those teams, we know they won’t just allow us to win, we’ll have to work for it.”</p><p class="p5">Ashford is relishing his last chance to play in a football-loving town.</p><p class="p5">“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “This town is crazy about football. When the season comes around the whole town comes support us. I can’t wait to have that feeling again this season.”</p>””<p>Dawson Ashford, Basile Quarterback</p>RickHickmanPhotographer