Lassie to the rescue for the Comets
CENTRAL POINT — If there’s one thing the Crater football team can count on this season, it has been senior Caden Lasater.
From a pick-six in the season opener to a kickoff return for a score or game-sealing touchdown run in overtime, Lasater has done everything in his power to propel the eighth-ranked Comets in every phase of the game.
In reality, Lassie (as he’s known to teammates) very well could be the most important player to his team than anyone else in the Midwestern League.
Be it at linebacker, running back or special teams returner, there just hasn’t been an area Lasater has been anything other than exceptional in during a season that has left very little wiggle room each week for the Comets (5-2), who host Summit at 1 p.m. Saturday.
He’s just the type of person, according to Crater coach Berk Brown, that would likely also be the best popcorn seller in the league if he was put in charge of the Comets’ concession stand.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Brown says.
“He’s just that guy. He just always seems to come through for us.”
It’s really nothing new.
Lasater burst onto the scene as a sure-handed tackler as a sophomore linebacker to help Crater finish as the Class 5A state runner-up to Thurston, and has not let off the gas — or shied away from playing whatever role he could to help his Comets.
During the past COVID-19 spring season, Crater found itself in such a bind with injured or sick offensive linemen that the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Lasater — generous estimates, truth be told — even threw his hat in the ring and started a game at center against Grants Pass.
“That’s the type of kid we’re talking about right now,” says Brown. “He’s the ultimate teammate and ultimate competitor, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win.”
Lest anyone forget, Lasater has the numbers to back it all up, too.
He’s not just a gung-ho piece of the puzzle.
“He’s our team’s leading tackler and leading rusher for a reason,” says Brown. “He’s a great athlete and he works tremendously hard.”
Lasater leads Crater with 635 yards rushing on 134 carries with five TDs, and is also the team’s leading receiver with 13 catches for 157 yards and two scores. The three-year starter also boasts three defense or special teams TDs.
“I’ve always been underrated,” the 17-year-old says of what drives him to succeed. “When you look at me, I don’t really look like a football player or an athlete, at least that’s what people usually say. So I always feel like I’ve got something to prove and have a chip on my shoulder.”
It’s a mindset that doesn’t just turn on and off for game nights, it’s an everyday thing for Lasater.
“The way he practices is unlike any other kid I’ve been around at the high school level,” says Brown “Every practice he is giving nothing but his fullest effort, to the point where some of the other kids have said, ‘Hey Lassie, why are you going so hard? Just take it easy, you don’t have to kill someone every play.’”
For someone who has only missed two workouts in the past three years, both due to family camping trips, there really is no “take it easy” frame of thought for Lasater.
“His commitment to the cause is also unlike any kid in the program or I have had in the program,” adds Brown. “He just loves the sport so much and studies the tapes so much and lifts the weights so hard because it means something to him. That type of attitude is starting to carry over to our younger players and that’s just another case of his leadership by example.”
Lasater is a three-sport athlete at Crater, with basketball and baseball still to come, and boasts a 3.60 grade-point average.
Football, however, just allows him to be himself a little more than any other pursuit.
“I’ve always been a physical guy and I just love the physicality of the game,” says Lasater. “Where else do you get to hit someone, legally?”
For the past two seasons, the bulk of Lasater’s damage has come on the defensive side of the ball, but he showed flashes of being a playmaking running back at the end of the spring and has not looked back in securing full-time duty as a senior.
In fact, seeing Lasater on the sidelines is a rarity these days once the game is afoot.
“It’s a lot more tiring than I thought it would be,” he says of playing practically every minute this year. “After every game, I can’t move, but I love it.”
Naturally talented when it comes to sliding through seams to make tackles or break a big run, Lasater doesn’t just rest on his laurels. Brown says there are few players who study film to the degree as the senior standout.
“It’s not uncommon for me to get a text at 9:30 at night,” notes the coach, “and he’s asking me questions about certain coverages we’re in or why we want to run this run scheme or what’s the protection on this scheme or when are we calling this blitz.”
“He’s kind of a football nerd like me,” adds Brown. “He’s one of those guys asking those types of questions not just to learn what we’re doing but why we’re doing it, and that makes you extremely proud as a coach.”
For his part, Lasater doesn’t deny he’s always looking to gain a little extra insight or edge he will then be able to transition into his game play.
“I like to know what he’s thinking so I know what to do so, yeah, I may check in with him a few times,” laughs Lasater.
Lasater points out, though, that he’s far from the only Crater player putting in such hard work on and off the field.
“I think all of us are trying to be leaders and we all do a good job and do our part,” he says. “I wouldn’t say anyone is more of a leader than anyone else.”
What can be said is that Crater needs more from one another this year than in any of Lasater’s previous seasons.
The Comets opened the year with only seven seniors and new starters at nearly every position, and have had to claw for everything they’ve achieved thus far.
All that in-game pressure has made this season one of the most enjoyable for Lasater.
“This year has probably been more fun just because of how much effort we have to give to get that win,” says Lasater. “It just tastes so much better at the end of games this year when we’re able to win. In my sophomore year, we were blowing everyone out and we’d only play for like a half. The wins were still wins and still exciting, but definitely this year, these have been the best kind of wins.”
And Lasater has been the best kind of teammate to make it all happen.
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