Athlete of the week: Clay LeVasseur, Rogers, football: Getting physical

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Knocking people over is Clay LeVasseur’s main job in sports and by all accounts he is pretty good at that.

The 6-foot, 215-pound senior is a three-year starter at inside linebacker and two-year starter at offensive guard for the Rogers Royals, who’ve won 28 of 32 games and a batch of championships in his tenure. It’s rare to be a long-term starter in a strong big-school program.

“Clay is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” said Marc Franz, Royals coach. “And one of the most stubborn, which I say with a smile on my face. His attitude is always, I’m going to get it done, so don’t worry about me.”

LeVasseur was the second-leading tackler with 118 last year when the Royals went 12-1 with conference and section titles and lost in the Prep Bowl to Totino-Grace.

Clay LeVasseur is Rogers' leading tackler this year, and was 2nd-leading tackler on last year's state runner-up team. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

This year he’s the leading tackler with 81 (50 solo, 31 multiple) on the 7-1 Royals, despite missing the first two games with injury. He’s made 10 tackles for loss, second on the team.

“Clay has a good sense of where the ball is,” said Franz, “and he’s always around the ball, making tackles sideline to sideline. He fights off the blocks really well.”

LeVasseur was particularly valiant in the Royals lone loss, 17-14 to Elk River, when he made 22 tackles, three behind the line, against a team that likes to pound up the middle.

On the offensive line, LaVasseur is one of the key reasons the Royals average 29 points and around 250 yards rushing  per game. He’s especially nasty on sweeps from the Wing T.

“We need our guards to pull and be very physical,” said Franz. “He is one of the best we’ve had. As a blocker, he doesn’t just get in the guy’s way. He really attacks.”

LeVasseur is heading into the home stretch of a grid career that’s seen three conference titles and two section titles. The Royals are top-seeded in Section 5AAAA, with a first-round bye next week. Dealing with shoulder and ankle issues, he’s grateful for the break, but eager to start pursuing another state bid.

“It’s been a great ride,” acknowledged LeVasseur. Asked about top thrills, he can list more than most high school gridders. “Obviously, playing in the Dome last year, and reaching the championship game. And my very first game, in 10th grade, against Spring Lake Park, when we won in double overtime … And the section finals that same year, beating St. Michael in the final seconds. That was great.”

LeVasseur’s other sport is wrestling, where the team is not nearly as successful and he’s had to miss some action with injury. Team captain last year, he was 9-3 when he suffered a torn labrum in a bout against STMA that required surgery. As a sophomore, he was team MVP and had a 23-13 record. A varsity starter since seventh grade, he’s looking forward to reclaiming his spot at 215 pounds.

“I like football because it’s a team game  and you have a lot of fun with a big bunch of guys,” he said, “and I like wrestling because, yes, it’s a team sport, too, for tournaments and things, but there’s also a lot more individual pride.”

LeVasseur says he’ll listen if a college football coach is interested, but his main goal the next four years  is concentrating on an electrical engineering degree.

THE LEVASSEUR SCORECARD

Clay LeVasseur

Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Bruce and Jane; brother Wade, 20; sister Dawn 19 …. Sports: football, wrestling… Academics: 3.2 GPA, attending North Hennepin PSEO … College plans: undecided where, electrical engineering, maybe football

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