St. Al senior Landers goes to work

Published 10:30 am Monday, August 11, 2014

St. Aloysius senior Casey Landers, who led the team in tackles at middle linebacker last season, will also play running back this year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

St. Aloysius senior Casey Landers, who led the team in tackles at middle linebacker last season, will also play running back this year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)


Casey Landers is going to get plenty of opportunities to score touchdowns this season as one of St. Aloysius’ primary running backs.

As fun as that sounds, Landers seems lukewarm on the idea. He’d much rather prevent them.

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Landers, a senior middle linebacker, was St. Al’s top tackler last season and emerged as a leader of the defense. He’ll add running back to his list of duties, but is happiest as a hard-hitting force on the defensive side of the ball.

“Linebacker is my spot,” Landers said. “It’s where I want to be. Running back is fun, but linebacker is where I want to be. That’s my world. I love to hit.”

Landers had only 29 tackles during his sophomore season, but broke out in 2013. His 98 tackles led the team and helped the Flashes reach the Class 1A North State championship game.

Landers, though, did most of his work almost in anonymity. The same blue collar mentality that makes him perfect to play linebacker also seemed to help him blend into the background on a successful team.

Landers only played defense last season, for a St. Al squad that was more well-known for its high-scoring offense.

“He’s one of those guys who just kind of goes to work. He doesn’t care about being mentioned. He just wants to win,” St. Al coach BJ Smithhart said. That’s a middle linebacker’s personality. He’s done a great job for us.”

Within the team, however, Landers is rarely overlooked. Defensive tackle Jacob Kitchens said Landers emerged as a team leader last season both with his play and his knowledge of the game.

“He’s probably the leader of the defense,” Kitchens said. “If I ever have a question about it or anything, he tells me where I need to go. And if I do forget he’s not mad about it. He’s always there if I need help.”

Landers will get ample opportunity to shine in the spotlight this season. Besides being back for another season at middle linebacker, he’s being called upon to fill a gaping hole on offense.

Two of last year’s starting running backs, Barrett Teller and Douglas Busari, graduated and took 1,860 rushing yards and 24 TDs with them. Landers and DeMichael Harris, a converted receiver, will take their place.

Smithhart has expressed confidence in the duo, despite their lack of experience at running back. Landers, especially, has the type of football smarts that will help him adjust quickly, Smithhart said.

“He’ll do whatever it takes to win. I told him he’ll probably carry the ball and he was excited. He knows the more he does it, the better he’ll get,” Smithhart said. “He’s just got a great attitude about everything. He’s just a hard-nosed kid that loves football.”

Landers had confidence in himself, too. He knows it’ll be a challenge, but it’s one he’s looking forward to.

“It’s going to be a lot of work. I’ll get it done, though.”

Hidden gems

This is the first in a series on overlooked high school football players who will make a big impact this season.

• Monday, Aug. 11: St. Aloysius linebacker Casey Landers

• Tuesday, Aug. 12: Vicksburg High wide receiver Kareeme Butler

• Wednesday, Aug. 13: Porters Chapel lineman Austin Kraemer

• Thursday, Aug. 14: Warren Central safety Michael Ware

St. Al on the field

Jamboree: Friday, at Mississippi College

Season opener: Aug. 22 vs. Cathedral

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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