Everything seemed to be going according to plan for Ascension Episcopal running back and linebacker Ja’Ceiry Linzer.
The then-junior had tallied more than 1,500 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns for the Blue Gators in 2014 and garnered interest from such programs as LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
But a late-season injury in which he suffered two meniscus tears sidelined Linzer the entire offseason, disallowing him from participating in any summer camps in which he could show off his skills.
As a result, Linzer, just weeks away from the end of his high school career, is yet to receive an offer, but he’s starting to once again make people pay attention to him with his play in the playoffs.
“Ja’Ceiry was coming off an offseason knee surgery,” Ascension Episcopal coach Michael Desormeaux said. “Early on, our plan was to ease him into it. I thought that if we could get by without him early in the season, then he could get healthy throughout the year and by the playoffs he’d be ready to go.”
The plan seemed to work, as Linzer has hit his stride at just the right time, garnering a combined 306 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in the No. 1 Blue Gators’ first two playoff wins against St. Frederick and Cedar Creek.
Desormeaux said Linzer is not just playing some of his best football of the season, but of his career.
“I think he played the best game of his career last Friday night against Cedar creek,” Desormeaux said. “He was outstanding. We fed him the ball, and he really just kind of took over and physically set the tone for us.”
Linzer did not just jump back into the saddle to start, however. Desormeaux and his coaching staff were careful to ease him back into the regular lineup starting the year.
“We played him a lot on defense in an attempt to limit the number of shots he took to his legs,” Desormeaux said. “At the beginning of the year he was splitting carries with three other guys. At first he was carrying a fourth of the load. As the year went on that turned into a third, then half. At a certain point it became a question of how much can he carry while still feeling comfortable.”
Linzer will get another chance show how he’s developed and assist Ascension Episcopal in reaching the Mercedez-Benz Superdome for its first state championship title game appearance in the programs history this Friday night when the Blue Gators take on St. Mary in the Division IV semifinals.
Desormeaux said Linzer’s performance is critical to his team’s success.
“If you want to be the guy, if you want to be the big-time feature running back, you have to perform well in big-time games,” Desormeaux said. “So far, he’s done that, and for us to keep winning he has to keep doing it.”