Barbara Morgan says her grandson had every opportunity to go down the wrong path as a kid.
Now a senior leader on the Manual High School football team, Chase Gavin says he grew up around drugs, never met his father, often had to wake up someone to take him to school.
“He’s determined that he’s going to have no part of that in his life,” said Morgan, who along with her husband took Gavin in when he was 12 years old. “He’s very driven. He knows what he wants to do with his life and what he needs to do to be successful.
“He could have gone the opposite direction.”
Gavin has excelled in the classroom — he carries a 4.2 grade-point average — and on the football field at Manual. After playing tight end as a junior, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound defensive end leads his team in tackles (64) and fumble recoveries (three) and figures to be a key player as the Crimsons will try to slow host Male in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. second-round Class 6-A playoff game.
MORE COVERAGE | A coach breaks down Male-Manual rematch
Male defeated Manual 43-7 on Oct. 23, but Gavin said the Crimsons are determined to avenge that loss Friday.
“Our coaches know how to beat them,” said Gavin, noting the Crimsons won four straight against the Bulldogs from 2010-13. “We have to go through the game plan and do it the right way. We’re all thinking how great it would be to knock them out and ruin their dream season, especially our rival.”
But football is only a small part of Gavin’s motivation in life.
He says he’d like to play the sport in college — NCAA Division III schools such as Centre are showing interest — but said he’s just as interested in pursuing a business degree. He’d like to become a financial analyst “at a big firm,” he said.
He said his rough childhood serves as motivation
“I was exposed to so much at a young age,” he said. “I feel like that’s why I’ve become such a great person because I know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. I don’t ever want to be there, so I’m pushing myself to be as successful as I possibly can be.”
Manual coach Oliver Lucas said Gavin will be successful at whatever field he chooses, citing his ability to adapt to almost any situation. He’s played nearly every position on the field at Manual during his four years there.
“Chase is success-driven because of his situation,” Lucas said. “He’s successful in the classroom and in everything he does. Some people, that kind of pressure would make them fold. Others, it makes a diamond out of them.”
Gavin was at his brightest Friday as the Crimsons knocked off Ballard 30-23 in a first-round game. He finished with five tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception. He returned the pick 15 yards for a touchdown that gave the Crimsons a 30-16 lead with 5:15 left in the game.
Manual defensive line coach Koby Clark said Gavin’s performance was nothing new.
“His nickname is ‘Motor’ because he’s the motor of the team,” Clark said. “He gives me nothing but effort.”
Gavin is part of a solid defensive line that includes two others with major-college offers. Senior defensive end Derek Dorsey (6-4, 263) has committed to the University of Louisville. Junior nose guard Sean Cleasant (6-2, 275) has a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt.
Gavin said he’s noticed opponents focusing more on Dorsey and Cleasant, allowing him to have a solid senior season.
“They deserve all the credit they can get because they’re both outstanding players,” Gavin said. “But I’ve had a pretty solid year. I guess other offenses feel like they have to focus on those two scholarship players, and I just make the most of the opportunities I get.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
CLASS 6-A FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
* Who: Manual (9-2) at Male (11-0).
* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
* What’s at stake: Winner will face St. Xavier-Trinity winner in next week’s Class 6-A, Region Two final.