Shuford sacrifices for Olympic’s sake

lwertz@charlotteobserver.comSeptember 28, 2012 

  • Area Standings Southwestern 4A
    Conf. Overall
    Butler2-05-0
    Independence2-05-1
    Ardrey Kell1-14-1
    Rocky River1-14-2
    Myers Park1-1 3-3
    Providence1-12-3
    South Mecklenburg0-21-5
    East Mecklenburg0-21-5
    I-Meck 4A
    Conf. Overall
    Hough2-05-1
    Mallard Creek2-04-1
    Vance1-14-2
    Lake Norman1-13-3
    North Mecklenburg1-12-3
    Hopewell1-11-4
    Mooresville0-23-3
    West Charlotte0-21-5
    ME-GA 7 4A
    Conf. Overall
    Charlotte Catholic2-05-1
    Berry2-03-3
    Olympic1-02-3
    West Mecklenburg1-14-2
    Harding0-10-5
    Garinger0-20-5
    East Gaston0-20-6
    CISAA
    Conf. Overall
    Charlotte Country Day0-05-0
    Charlotte Latin0-04-1
    Providence Day0-04-2
    Charlotte Christian0-02-3

Two years ago, Chase Shuford transferred from Porter Ridge to Olympic to play for his father, coach Barry Shuford.

Shuford said playing for his father was hard for about a week.

“I got used to it real fast,” Chase Shuford said. “Everybody was asking me how my dad was at home. But after that, it became normal. And I think people know how hard I work for my spot. They knew it wasn’t given to me.”

Two years ago, as a sophomore, Chase Shuford split time at quarterback. He split time at quarterback last season too. Heading into his senior season, he went to his father and asked to play tight end. Chase said he knew Rod Tinsley was the Trojans’ best option at quarterback this season.

“Last year,” Chase said, “he just played a lot better than me. I felt I could be a better tight end, plus I was getting some baseball (recruiting) attention and I wanted to save my arm (for pitching). So it wasn’t hard. I think the whole team knew he was better than me, and I thought I could help somewhere else. But playing tight end was tough. It opened my eyes.”

So Chase Shuford, who is 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, blocked and caught passes at tight end for the first month and a half of the 2012 season. When Olympic struggled at punter, he told his father he could help out there too. He averaged 30 yards per punt.

“He’s pretty unselfish,” Barry Shuford said of his son. “He started a playoff game for us as a quarterback, but he said he wanted to switch (positions). I said OK. I just didn’t know how aggressive he would be and if he would block somebody at tight end.”

Two weeks ago, Tinsley injured his thumb in a 24-16 loss to Weddington. That forced Chase Shuford to return to quarterback and to surrender his punting duties.

He said he was happy to do whatever his team needed.

Shuford quarterbacked Olympic’s win at East Gaston last week. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He will play against Garinger Friday.

“He came in and did a good job, not missing a beat,” Barry Shuford said of his son. “He could’ve had dropped snaps and all kinds of deals, like false starts. We didn’t have any of that.”

Chase said he was nervous though.

“When Rod got hurt, I kind of knew I’d have to step in,” he said. “My mindset going into the East Gaston game was to not make mistakes, not turn the ball over and give us a chance to win. But that first snap, whew, it was hard. I was a little nervous, but after I got into the game, it was natural.”

In addition to being a football player, Chase Shuford is a burgeoning baseball prospect. Olympic had three senior starting pitchers last season, so Shuford played second base. In the past three seasons, he has pitched a total of 16 innings for the Trojans’ baseball team, according to his father, and is 3-0.

He was throwing in the mid-80s (mph) when the 2012 season ended, but after spending the summer with a traveling team and throwing more often, Shuford was throwing in the high-80s when school started this fall. Scouts began telling him he was good enough to be recruited by colleges. That set well with a guy who carries nearly a 4.0 GPA and already has academic scholarship offers to Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne.

That also helped make the decision easier to give up quarterbacking.

But with Tinsley hurt, and questionable for Friday, Shuford is back at quarterback, with a chance to help put Olympic into position to win a conference championship.

The Trojans (2-3, 1-0) trail Berry Academy (3-3, 2-0) and Charlotte Catholic (5-1, 2-0) in the ME-GA 7 conference standings. Olympic will play both teams to end the season in October. Tinsley figures to be back full time.

Chase Shuford said he has one goal until then: keep the Trojans on track.

“I don’t really want to turn the ball over,” he said. “I want to do whatever I can do so that we can keep winning. That’s all. I want to give the team a chance to win. I don’t want to be the cause of a loss.”

Wertz: 704-612-9716; twitter: @langstonwertzjr

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