COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Beasley, Lawson key to No. 1 LWC's fortunes

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NC grads starters for top-ranked Blue Raiders

By Dennis George

They’ve come a long way since their days as middle school teammates on the Bloomfield Blazers football team.

Former Nelson County High School standouts Dylan Beasley and Zac Lawson now find themselves playing key roles as their Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders are the No. 1 team in the country in NAIA football.

That success comes as no surprise to their high school coach, Jamie Egli.

“Both of these young men are good kids who come from good families,” he said. “They are not only outstanding football players but excel in the classroom. One of them has a 4.0 grade point average and the other is close to that.”

Most of the attention, of course, is on Beasley, the rifle-armed quarterback who holds every passing record at Nelson County and sits atop state record lists for most touchdown passes in a game (tied with nine) and most passing yards in a game (652).

The redshirt sophomore took the reins from graduated four-year starter Brandon Cresap and has guided Lindsey Wilson to a 4-0 record and the top ranking.

“We really expected Dylan to step up and be a leader for us this season and he has done just that,” coach Chris Oliver said. The coach, who started the school’s program six years ago and guided the Blue Raiders into the NAIA playoffs in 2014, praised Beasley for his performance in the team’s second game of the season at traditional NAIA power Georgetown.

In that contest, Beasley executed the two-minute drill to perfection, guiding Lindsey Wilson down the field and connecting with Cametrick Ross on a 28-yard touchdown pass in the final seconds for the game-winning score.

The Beasley-to-Ross touchdown was the second big play for the pair during the game-winning drive. Beasley found Ross over the middle on third and 11 for 37 yards to set up the touchdown pass two plays later.

“He really showed a lot of poise and confidence on that drive,” Oliver said.

Beasley took his performance in stride.

“It worked out the way that we practice the two-minute drill, and it’s something that I enjoy working on,” he said. “I think in situations like that I will focus more. As a result, I feel very confident in what I am doing.”

He had given his coaches and teammates a glimpse of his talents in the 2014 season opener at Campbellsville. In his first collegiate game, taking over for an injured Cresap, he threw two touchdown passes as the Blue Raiders held off archrival Campbellsvile 44-40 to claim the Battle of Highway 55.

Beasley noted that the Egli’s offense at Nelson County prepared him for the role of playing quarterback at the collegiate level, but admitted that there’s a lot more preparation even in the NAIA ranks.

“The players are so much faster here and the defenses are a lot more complex,” he explained.

That is why he spends numerous hours each week watching film of an upcoming opponent.

“I watch a lot of it on my own and then talk things over with the coaches,” he said. “Then we have position meetings during the week in addition to our practice time.”

Having highly ranked athletic teams is not unusual at Lindsey Wilson where the soccer teams and cycling teams have captured national championships. The 2015 softball team was a national runner-up.

But Lawson and Beasley say that the fortunes of the football team have brought them some attention as well.

“Because of the success of our athletic programs, most students know who a lot of the athletes are,” Beasley said. “But it’s usually easy to pick out who football players it’s nice to get the attention.”

Lawson said “people on campus are really excited about the football team and are talking about football.”

However, they say that the success hasn’t changed their outlook on the season.

“We are just taking it one day at a time,” Lawson said. “We have to stay in the moment and keep going to practice and concentrate on getting better each day.”

Beasley added, “while it’s awesome to be ranked No. 1, that doesn’t change us or what we do. We have to prepare each day and know that everyone is going to give us their best shot.”

And while it’s big difference from their days in Bloomfield, Lawson said that it’s fun sharing the experience with a longtime friend and teammate.

“It doesn’t hurt to have a good offensive left tackle protecting you when you’re a right-handed quarterback in a spread offense,” Egli laughed. “I would say that Zac works hard to protect Dylan.”

Lindsey Wilson entertains the University of the Cumberlands on Saturday at 1 p.m.