YOUNGSVILLE — If someone said he knew Ascension Episcopal’s Ja’Ciery Linzer would lead the state in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns after four weeks of the season, his credentials would probably be questioned.
But that is exactly what Gators coach Michael Desormeaux said he expected from his junior running back going into the season.
“I know it sounds ridiculous,” Desormeaux admitted, “but we expected him to have a big year. What he did in the offseason and the way he worked and grew up — we as a staff could see there was something great coming up ahead. Realistically, we saw this coming.”
Linzer’s 754 yards so far this season are more than double the state’s second-leading rusher. His 11 rushing touchdowns are five more than anyone else. The bulk of his stats came last week against Hanson, when Linzer ran for 345 yards and four touchdowns.
For Linzer, he said 345 yards and four touchdowns isn’t even his ceiling.
“I know I can get more than 345 yards,” he said. “I just need to keep pushing.”
Pushing is what got Linzer to this point. As a skinny sophomore last season, Linzer said all he wanted to do was work hard in the offseason and get better than last year. Desormeaux said that is exactly what Linzer did, and everything he’s doing is well-earned.
“It’s not something he just showed up and did,” Desormeaux said. “It’s not just natural ability. He comes in every day and works, and he’s a great kid to be around. He worked his tail off all summer. Ever since last football season, he decided he wanted to have a great year and a good career here.”
Linzer said he and his teammates are enjoying the early season success: The Gators are 3-1 heading into Friday’s game with Ascension Christian. He said his teammates are helping him achieve his personal success, something he said was a personal goal after last season.
“I played pretty slow last year,” Linzer said. “I just wanted to improve on what I did last year, and my team is helping me do whatever I want.”
Despite detractors saying Linzer’s numbers are inflated because of 1A competition, Desormeaux shuts that down. He said he thinks Linzer could perform at a high level in any class.
“Maybe a little bit has to do with playing 1A football, but there isn’t a school in the state that wouldn’t want him in their backfield,” Desormeaux said. “It’s not like we have a huge offensive line or anything. We are undersized on the line, and he makes up for that.
“We have Scott McCullough on our staff, and he says Ja’Ceiry would be a great running back at Acadiana High School if he was over there.”
McCullough, who spent 32 years coaching at Acadiana, has an opinion that might not be that far-fetched. Desormeaux said Linzer is “all the things you want in your star player.”
“I tell everyone this: Before he is a football player, he is just a great kid,” Desormeaux said. “He is humble and quiet and hard working. If you didn’t know who he was, you’d have no idea how good he was, because he doesn’t act that way. He doesn’t act like a superstar.”
Staying true to form, Linzer said he doesn’t have lofty goals. He said his only goal is the one thing he is clearly achieving every week.
“My only goal is to play hard,” Linzer said. “Our team goal is to never back down from any team. All the work we do, we want it to show in the game.”
It is showing.