GONZALES — Creating separation is a concept that East Ascension High wide receiver Steven McBride is constantly working on.

Whether it’s finding an opening on the football field or putting in time away from it, being the best is a driving force for the Spartans senior. The approach that has already paid impressive dividends.

As a junior, McBride caught more than 40 passes for 600-plus yards and seven touchdowns. His efforts helped East Ascension to an 11-2 record and its first appearance in the LHSAA state quarterfinals since 2003.

“Steven is such a competitor. He wants to be the best receiver that’s ever come through East Ascension,” said EA coach Darnell Lee, who also said family is also a motivating factor for McBride.

“He wants to be the first in his family to make it as far as he possibly can. He’s trying to set the bar at his position, and I think he’s doing a lot for his family so he’s playing with a purpose.”

At 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, McBride has the size to impress college recruiters. He’s drawn interest from in-state schools Northwestern State and Nicholls State and has also garnered attention from New Mexico State, Arkansas State, South Alabama and Wake Forest.

McBride said the route to a possible college scholarship is the product of hard work.

“It’s about work ethic,” he said. “It’s working hard every day, trying to make the team better, trying to make the person in front of me better. It's about being a team leader, stepping up to the plate and trying to be the best player I can be.”

Some of McBride’s best work was on display during his junior season, when he was named first team All-District 5-5A. He was also recognized as the Louisiana Sports Scene offensive player of the week after EA’s 35-0 win over Thibodaux in Week 3.

In that game, McBride rushed twice for 21 yards and a TD, and caught three passes for 76 yards, but there were signs he would be a difference-maker before that.

His first touchdown as a Spartan came in a season-opening win over Lutcher. A week later, he caught five passes for 106 yards and a TD in a 33-23 win at Parkview Baptist.

“I was stepping up with the seniors from last year because I wanted to be one of the biggest players on the team,” McBride said. “I wanted to be coachable and I wanted to make the team better by what I was doing. Having a starting spot last year was big for me.”

Another senior, Cam Jones, is the new starting quarterback, who takes over after the graduation of multi-year starter Jason Wakefield. If the first play of a spring scrimmage against Live Oak is an indication, the Spartans appear to be in good hands.

Jones connected with McBride for a 40-yard completion on the Spartans’ first play.

“I’m one of the first options,” McBride said. “We were trying to do down and score on one of the first plays, and he got me the ball.”

McBride provides a comfortable option for Jones. It also gives McBride the chance to turn hard work into offense for the Spartans.