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La Crosse's Andrew Jay getting it done

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

La CROSSE -- La Crosse High School junior Andrew Jay has delivered an electrifying first four contests and is a threat for a big gain every time he touches the ball.

In La Crosse's 4-0 start, Jay has 12 carries for 161 yards and a score, 15 catches for 270 yards and three TDs, 163 kick return yards, 147 punt return yards and a 49-yard interception return. He ranks fourth in Kansas for all classes in return yards.

His 790 all-purpose yards on just 42 touches -- 18.8 yards a touch -- has also come with an array of spin moves, jukes, cuts and simply straight-ahead speed for the 5-foot-11, 154-pounder.

"To be honest, I am more scared of getting tackled than anything," Jay said with a smile. "I just try and avoid everybody. When it comes to it, I will be physical, but I try to do the Barry Sanders approach and avoid everybody."

In a 40-8 victory against Plainville last Friday, Jay recorded a five-yard catch for a score and an 89-yard kickoff return for a TD. He almost broke two other punts for scores.

"He has great body control," coach Jon Webster said. "He is not the fastest guy on the field, but he knows where he wants to go, and he makes a decision and goes."

"It's awesome," senior lineman Kody Burns said. "He is a playmaker by heart."

Jay started as a sophomore on defense, but saw limited snaps offensively on an 11-1 team led by all-state running backs Kip Keeley and Levi Morss. He rushed 14 times for 78 yards, had one reception for three yards and finished with 130 all-purpose yards.

"He just realized that it's his time to step up and make plays -- as long as he worked hard in the offseason, it would get him to where it is now," senior Marshall Jay said.

Plainville kicked to Jay early in the game, but after the 89-yard kickoff, the Cardinals did an onside kick. On punts, Plainville, like most teams, doesn't have a true punter.

"With our kicking game, we just try to get the ball off a lot of times," Plainville coach Joe Simon said. "We don't really have too much directional kicking. We were just trying to kick it and cover the field. After he did return the touchdown on us, we decided that we would not kick it deep to him again."

Jay's play is one of several Leopards that have stepped up for a squad that ranks No. 2 in Class 2-1A. While Jay has performed well throughout the season, multiple players, including Marshall Jay, seniors Lucas Moeder and Warren Storie and senior Taylor Yohe have delivered big games as well. The team's skill players had several solid downfield blocks to spring gains.

"We talk about offensive lineman blocking for first down," Webster said. "Receivers, skill, blocking for touchdowns. It goes back to that team attitude. A lot of teams, if that fullback is not getting the ball, he may take three steps and stop. Our guys, they want to get out there, they want to hit, they want to get down there and want to make holes for their teammates."

Moeder has back-to-back 100-yard games and junior quarterback Jack Garcia has a 10/1 TD/INT ratio.

"It's teamwork and it's 28 guys that care about 28 guys," Webster said. "That's something that I think is maybe unmatched with all my teams that I have coached. We are one heartbeat, and that's something special and it makes it great to come to practice everyday and in games."