He might be showing marked improvement in his game, but
don’t expect David Ash to take time to stop and smell the roses. The Belton
gunslinger and the lone take at the quarterback position for the Texas Longhorns
in the class of 2011 isn’t one to stop and admire his work – he’s too focused
on getting Belton ready for the 2010 season.
Even to ask the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Ash about what areas of
his game he feels he’s improved on the most over the past year and he has a
hard time finding a way to brag on himself.
“You’d have to ask somebody else,” Ash said. “I really
couldn’t tell you.”
One needs to look no further than this past weekend’s
7-on-7 State Tournament to see how much Ash has improved his game. His
velocity, his touch and his ability to throw an accurate deep ball have all
improved greatly. Combining the on the field performance with his leadership,
command of a huddle and poise, Ash has made it clear that he is very much in
the conversation as the state’s top signal caller in the class of 2011.
Heading into the tournament Belton was looked at as a
team that could potentially make a run through the 64-team Division I field, a
notion based largely on Ash’s presence. That could be viewed as a blessing and
curse – having arguably the state’s best quarterback on their side would likely
put a target on Ash giving teams a reason to being their “A” game when they
going up against Belton.
Ash, however, is less concerned about how people view him
or what being target for an opposing team entails and more concerned with what
his team is able to get done on the field.
“It’s not about me – it’s about the Belton Tigers,” Ash
said. “We’re a team. We win as a team, we lose as a team, we work together as a
team and being is team is what it’s all about.”
The Tigers fared well in pool play on Friday beating
Lufkin and PSJA Memorial before falling to DeSoto in the final game of the day.
The Tigers managed to make it into the championship bracket but were beaten in
their first game of the day on Saturday by Plano.
Finishing the tournament with a 2-2 record, Ash said the
experience the Tigers gained in College Station was enjoyable.
“Its fun throwing and catching,” Ash said. “It’s always
fun to compete and this really helps you get ready for the fall.”
The Tigers went 10-2 last fall, their best season in several
years and the top season ever under head coach Rodney Southern. Belton also won
the District 12-5A championship and a bi-district championship in the process,
in addition to winning a nationally televised game on ESPNU against arch rival
Belton’s performance on the field last year can be traced
back to last summer’s 7-on-7 showings and Ash is hoping the correlation is the
same this season.
Ash said it was largely
the success that the Tigers enjoyed last summer at a national passing
tournament in Louisiana that proved to be a great experience that he said
helped the Tigers gain confidence that they could play with virtually anyone.
While having success helped the team, Ash said he also
feels the mental side of 7-on-7 helped last summer and he’s hoping the success
the Tigers enjoyed this summer will have the same effect when fall practices
start in a few weeks.
“One of the biggest things is it keeps you from not
thinking about football,” Ash said. “You come out here to think about football
and it’s helped. Last summer we did really well and at that point we believed
we belonged. So it builds confidence.”
One thing that helped Belton build confidence in College
Station was Ash’s arm – especially against two of the best teams in the
tournament. Against Lufkin and DeSoto, who went onto runner-up finishes in the
consolation and championship brackets respectively, Ash showed that he can step
up in the pocket and drive the ball into tight windows against some of the best
skill athletes in Texas. He also did a good of putting the ball in good spots
where his receiver had a chance to make a play on the ball.
Ash said that his work at the Texas camp on June 6
against fellow Longhorn commit Quandre Diggs, as well as getting to throw
against campers David Jenkins and Charles Jackson, along with his experience
over the weekend has gone a long way toward getting him ready for the next
“It’s a challenge,” Ash said. “The windows close a lot
faster on you so you’ve really got to work on getting the ball out quicker.”
One thing Ash’s presence also did over the weekend was
allow a few of Belton’s receivers to shine while the offense got picked up
nicely in spots by the defense. Senior wide receiver Adrian Henderson proved to
be Ash’s go-to receiver while senior cornerback Darrius White and junior safety
Tramaine Rose made several big plays on defense.
While Belton might not have the same caliber of athletes
across the board like a Lufkin or DeSoto, Ash said that he hopes the way some
of his teammates played will show that Belton has some players.
“Nobody thinks that we have the athletes,” Ash said. “We
feel we can go out and play with the guys who are really athletic.”
Above everything though, perhaps the best thing to come
out of this summer for Ash and the Belton program is the rapport he’s been able
to develop with his receivers. The Tigers graduated several of the team’s top
receivers from last year and with
Henderson emerging as a receiving threat to go along with the
highly-anticipated arrival of 2013 move-in speedster Wolf Mahler, the talent
and chemistry should both be there for the Belton passing game this fall.
“That’s a big part of 7-on-7,” Ash said. “It’s about
coming together and working on timing and gelling. I think right now, we’re at
the point where everything is starting to come together.” Just don’t expect him to shout from the rooftops that
he’s the reason everything looks good for Belton to have another fine year in