Everyone at school calls him “Lefty.”
It’s a name Deshawn Capers-Smith acquired because his dad’s nickname is also Lefty.
Charles Smith is Big Lefty.
Deshawn is Lil Lefty.
But “Lil Lefty”, unlike his dad, isn’t left-handed.
So perhaps “Righty” would suit him better.
Afterall, it’s with his right arm that he has put up the mind-boggling numbers this season as quarterback at Warren Easton.
He throws right. He writes with his right. He eats with his right.
And off the field, his coaches and teachers all agree that he just does things the “right” way.
“He’s the most humble, compassionate, unselfish kid I have ever been around,” said Easton coach Tony Hull. “Words can’t really express how good of a kid he is. And he has been that way ever since I’ve met him. He is just that well-rounded kid with a great heart and spirit. I think it’s just how he was raised. They did one hell of a job.”
And the senior QB is doing a hell of a job on the field.
Capers-Smith leads the state in basically every statistical category.
He has completed 126 of 201 passes for 2,469 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.
And perhaps the most impressive stat: He’s thrown just one interception.
“I don’t remember what happened on that one,” he said with a smile. “I think I just threw it short.”
It was a rare miscue for Capers-Smith, who has even loftier goals for this season.
He’d like to eclipse the state’s single season passing yards mark (4,834), held by former Evangel Christian quarterback Brock Berlin, a player the 18-year old Capers-Smith isn’t quite old enough to remember.
“I have my eyes on it,” he said. “It’s been held so long by somebody in Shreveport, so I would like to bring that record to New Orleans.”
But to bring that record to New Orleans, he will also likely need to achieve his main goal: bringing a state championship trophy from Poydras Street to Canal Street. It will likely require a deep playoff run and a trip to the Merceds-Benz Superdome to pass Berlin’s mark.
Easton, ranked No. 4 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10, faces its biggest test of the regular season on Friday when it travels to Behrman Stadium to play No. 3 Landry-Walker.
“This game is what I call a program-changer,” said Hull when asked about the magnitude of Friday’s showdown. “It can change everything about our program.”
Guys like Capers-Smith and big-play receiver Tyron Johnson have helped put the Eagles on the map. But their styles are totally opposite, said Johnson, rated one of the nation’s top receivers.
“He doesn’t like the front page like me,” said Johnson. “He is more of a laid-back type and doesn’t say much.”
Capers-Smith describes himself as more of a lead-by-example type player.
“You can’t just talk about it,” he said. “You have to do it.”
He isn’t fazed by the attention he is getting because of his exploits on the field.
“I’ve been playing this game my whole life, so there’s no use in getting the big head about it,” he said.
He started playing the game when he was around 5, having to play center his first year before moving to running back.
His father, Charles “Lefty” Smith, would give him an allowance every time he scored a touchdown.
“It started out as $100 for touchdown, but I was scoring so much he had to drop it down to $50,” Capers-Smith recalled with a laugh.
His father wouldn’t want to make that type of offer to his son this season. In addition to the 31 touchdown passes, he has also rushed for 657 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“No I don’t think it’s unreal,” he said when asked about his stats. “It’s just hard work and putting in the extra work in practice.”
In fact, it’s that extra work in practice that Hull said makes Capers-Smith a rare breed.
He turned down offers to attend some of the prestigious summer camps that probably would have helped his recruiting skyrocket even more.
“It hurt him as far as getting picked for some of these national all star games, but he sacrificed all of that to have a great season,” Hull said. “He sacrificed self for the team. It’s a tribute to the type of person he is. A lot of time, society sees a person on top as the selfish-attitude type. So it’s great to see someone who is so unselfish and has such great character to be successful.”
Capers-Smith attributes that to his father, his mother (Nicole Capers) and his grandmother (Katie Capers).
Family has always been important to him.
On his left arm is a tattoo of a cloud, a cross and praying hands. He got it in honor of his older cousin James Felio, who died a few years ago after being shot by a police officer. He also wears No. 1 for Felio, who wore that number when he played at Easton over a decade ago.
On Friday nights when he trots from the locker room onto the field, he always looks in the stands to make sure his family (a group that is sometimes as large as 20) is there.
“They always stressed to me not to be the guy who follows the crowd,” he said. “They told me to always go to class, but don’t just go to class to be going. Learn something while you’re in there.
“So you never have to worry about me skipping class being where I’m supposed to be.”
So Josh Wagner, who coaches running backs and quarterback, never had to worry about his star quarterback not showing up for a workout.
“He just has that drive and determination,” Wagner said. “He is a humble guy all day every day. We put a lot on his plate as far as a leader, but he answers every call.”
During homecoming week two weeks ago, Capers-Smith said it occurred to him that his high school playing days (and his days as a quarterback) are coming to an end.
He has committed to Texas A&M, where he is being recruited as a defensive back. He played defensive back last season.
“Honestly it doesn’t matter what position I play,” he said. “You can put me anywhere and I’m going to just do what I’m supposed to do.”