Winona Christian’s Lane Beckwith realizes it’s his time for the Stars.
After two years of playing in the shadows of some talented Winona Christian players, Beckwith now takes the mantle as the unquestioned leader of the defense.
“He is going to have to be a leader for us and has already started doing that this summer,” WCS coach Junior Graham said. “He has been a really good defensive player for us. On offense, it’s going to be new to him this year because we have had people in those positions. We are excited about him. If he can stay healthy, we think he will have a tremendous year.”
Beckwith was a solid tackler for the Stars last year, recording 80 tackles on defense and earning all-district honors at outside linebacker. Graham said Beckwith will have to do more this season for the Stars.
“He is a good tackler and plays well in space,” Graham said. “He kind of went unnoticed last year because we had two or three good defensive player. He kind of fell under the radar. He is long and can run and change directions. He can do all of the things that you want out of an outside linebacker.”
Defensive coordinator Shannon Self said he will lean on Beckwith this season.
“I think he will have to be our guy on defense this year,” Self said. “He is going to have to be the guy who gets us in the right calls on defense. He is going to have to be out leader on defense. We have always had that good defense leader and kids who understood the game and he is going to have to be the one who takes on that role. He is going to have to watch a lot of film and be that guy for us.”
Even Beckwith knows he’s going to have to stop up this season.
“I kind of see myself as a leader and one of the few returning starters,” Beckwith said. “We had a lot of starters leave and the seniors have to take the reins and go with it. I’m just trying to put in extra work and helping everybody and keep them coming to the weight room in the offseason. I think I’m ready to be that guy. I’ve been one of coach Self’s linebackers for a while know and I know what he wants to do. Most of the time, I can tell what he is going to call before he calls it. I think I’m ready for it.”
While Beckwith wasn’t the main guy, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have his share of big plays. Perhaps the biggest one came against Marshall in the playoffs.
“He had a big play for us against Marshall that sealed the win for us,” Self said. “We intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown and that sealed the win for us. We were up by a few points and they had the ball late in the game and that sealed the win for us. That was a really big play.”
Beckwith remembers that play well.
“Yeah, I remember that pick six against Marshall,” Beckwith said. “It was a 45-yard return that sealed the win for us. They were running a trail route and I dropped and read it really well and picked it off. The No. 1 guy took the top off and the second guy ran behind him. He threw the trail route and I just jumped it. Their quarterback kind of had the angle on me and then Dalton Wiggins kind of came out of nowhere and blocked for me and got me to the end zone for my first high school touchdown.”
That interception return showed Graham that Beckwith might have to get more time on offense this season.
“He has above average hands and he will have to do a lot of blocking for us,” Graham said. “He will have to learn how to play tired and he has never had to play tired before. He will have to play both sides of the ball and that’s something he hasn’t had to do before. But I think he will be a good target and a guy who can make some things happen after he catches the ball.”
But more than blocking, tackling and receptions, Graham said he needs Beckwith to be a leader.
“So far, he has been assertive in the weight room, getting kids going in the right direction,” Graham said. “He is the first man up for whatever we are trying to get accomplished. He is trying to lead by example. He’s that guy that has been sitting in the background and waiting for his time to come and now it’s here. I think he will embrace that leadership role. He is a guy that at the end of the day, he will put in a good day’s work. He works hard and his parents make sure that he works hard.”
Beckwith said he plans on majoring in surveying at Holmes Community College in Grenada next year and then attending Mississippi State to get his four-year degree. When not playing football or baseball, Beckwith said he is either working for his father on the family farm, helping take care of about 100 head of cattle. On the weekends, Beckwith said he goes to a lot of dirt track races, a sport that he plans on taking up after finishing high school.