It has become rarer and rarer over the years to find football players who go full-time on both sides of the ball.
Indian Creek junior Isaiah Lacey remains an exception to the rule.
One of the Braves’ top receivers and tacklers a year ago, Lacey will again be lining up at both wideout and safety this season under first-year head coach Brett Cooper.
Going both ways doesn’t leave much time for rest during a 48-minute gridiron battle, but Lacey always has been able to push through fatigue.
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“It’s hard, but it’s a lot about mental toughness,” he said. “If you’ve got it, you’re going to be able to do it. If you don’t, then it’s going to be real hard for you to play as much as some of us do.”
Lacey is one of two two-way starters for Indian Creek along with senior cornerback and receiver Brad Trietsch, and the extended use doesn’t seem to limit the effectiveness of either.
Trietsch tied for the county lead with four interceptions last season and caught 38 passes for 609 yards and six touchdowns.
Lacey was also a threat on both offense and defense. He caught 35 passes for 505 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 130 yards and three more scores — and threw a 70-yard TD pass to Trietsch for good measure. Defensively, he totaled 72 tackles, forced two fumbles, intercepted a pass and a 73-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Despite the coaching change, Lacey expects his role to be largely the same this season, save for a few minor changes.
Offensively, he says Cooper has been a bit more strict about making sure that the receivers do their job as blockers. Short routes are also being emphasized.
On defense, Lacey will be playing more of a strong safety role.
“We’ll be closer up to the ball so we can stop the run more, make sure nobody runs up the middle on us too bad,” he said. “If there is a pass, we still have time to get back on the receiver.”
Playing both positions at a high level is a tough job, but it’s one that Lacey relishes — and he feels as though Cooper will have him just as prepared as ever for it.
“I think he’ll do a pretty good job of getting us conditioned and get ready to play,” Lacey said.
The Daily Journal will be rolling out its 2017 high school football previews in advance of next week’s season openers. A look at who to watch for and when:
Tuesday: Indian Creek
Thursday: Center Grove