One of the biggest, most important days of football for LaVar Seay at American Canyon High School did not happen during a game or a practice.
It came during a meeting, in January, in the winter time of his junior year. Head coach Larry Singer and his staff met with Seay and talked to him about being the Wolves’ quarterback.
Seay was coming off a season in which he was a standout at both outside linebacker and wide receiver. He was selected as the Defensive Player of the Year on the 2016 All-Napa County team after making 33 tackles, 12 sacks and scoring three defensive touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns while running for 175 yards on 13 carries and scoring four TDs.
“We sat down with him and expressed our interest in him being our quarterback,” said Singer. “We were honest with him. We told him up front, it’s going to cost you reps on defense. But he also understood he was the best athlete suited for that position and it could help his team tremendously if he was willing to do it. That’s what he was more interested in. He was more interested in helping the team and being that kind of a leader.”
Seay had previous experience at the position in the Wolves’ program, as he was the quarterback on the junior varsity team as a freshman and sophomore.
“On JV, you can make mistakes and get away with being a great athlete, whereas on varsity, that doesn’t translate as well,” said Singer. “You make mistakes, you pay for them. He had a little bit of a learning curve to start.”
Seay took on the challenge of leading American Canyon, of learning the system and playbook and taking charge of the run-first offense. It’s a triple-option out of the flex bone base offense.
He marched American Canyon to a 7-4 overall record and a Solano County Athletic Conference title with a 4-0 league record. He led the Wolves into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, where they advanced to the second round.
For his all-around play, Seay is the Napa Valley Register’s Player of the Year on the 2017 All-Napa County team.
“He wanted to do it, to help the team be better. It just speaks to his character,” said Singer.
Seay is not only about high character and team. He is so very talented, physical and tough with excellent speed – a 6-foot-2, 206-pound playmaker when the ball is in hands, with the skill-set to run and pass and execute plays and create positive yards.
He was named as the Offensive Player of the Year on the All-Solano County Athletic Conference team. He was also selected as the first-team quarterback.
American Canyon overcame a 0-3 start to the season, winning seven games in a row.
Seay was a huge factor in the Wolves’ success. He ran for 906 yards, averaging 14.6 yards per carry, and scored 12 rushing touchdowns. He threw for 900 yards, completing 39-of-80 passes with five touchdowns. On defense, he was credited with 23 total tackles (18 solo stops, five assisted stops). He also had six caused fumbles, two fumble recoveries and five sacks.
“LaVar is a tremendous talent – fast, strong, smart and has one of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen on a high school athlete,” said Chris Yepson, the Wolves’ offensive coordinator and play-caller. “With every game, LaVar became more confident in running triple option. As soon as he realized that it’s his ball, his decision to keep it, give it or pitch it, our offense started rolling. LaVar has great speed and when a hole opened up you weren’t going to catch him. His ability to keep plays alive with his feet and his eyes down field to find open wide receivers was fun to watch from the booth.
“LaVar was a great leader on the field, on both sides of the ball.”
Seay and the Wolves recovered after consecutive losses to Woodland (36-34), Vintage (28-14) and Inderkum-Sacramento (53-0). They went on a tear, rolling to wins over Wood (42-29), Mission-San Francisco (34-22), Vallejo (41-12), Bethel (41-12), Vanden (27-20) and Benicia (41-7).
In the playoffs, as the No. 7 seed, American Canyon continued its winning streak, beating River Valley-Yuba City (17-10) in the first round. The season ended with a loss to No. 2 seed Manteca (62-32).
“It was a good year for the program,” said Seay, a three-sport athlete, who also plays basketball and is on the track and field team. “I really love my team and I appreciate them. It’s a grind, a real commitment as well. Everybody gave it their all – putting in 150 percent every day.”
This includes Seay, 17, who worked hard during the spring and summer to learn the offense, the system and all that goes into the quarterback position.
“It’s pretty tough. It just comes with reps and practicing every day, learning, going through all your reads,” he said last week. “I was up to the challenge. I wanted to help the team become better going to that position.
“It’s reps, reps, reps every day, trying to get back into it, going through my reads at game speed. It took a lot to develop that chemistry with the receivers. I had to build a relationship with the line. There’s a lot that goes into it. It’s not a position that you can just jump into and be good at just like that.
“I put in a lot of work and effort in the offseason. Running track helped me with my conditioning and helped me get my form right so I could get faster.”
There were some big, big games for Seay during the past season.
* He passed for 115 yards with one touchdown and ran for 24 yards against Vintage.
* He threw for 120 yards and had 44 yards rushing against Inderkum.
* He had 194 yards passing with two touchdowns and had 27 yards rushing against Wood.
* He ran for 56 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 38 yards in the game against Mission.
* He had 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns and 111 yards passing against Vallejo.
* He threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 33 yards and a TD against Bethel.
* He had 182 yards rushing and two TDs against Vanden.
* He ran for 242 yards and scored three TDs in the game against Benicia.
* He had 47 rushing yards and 68 yards passing against River Valley.
* He threw for 136 yards and two TDs against Manteca.
“He’s a very competitive young man,” said Singer. “He really proved himself as one of the elite athletes in our league and probably the surrounding area. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s aggressive when he gets going. He’s a tough kid to bring down.
“There are several runs he had in the open field, where people just couldn’t stop him. He just plowed through them and got himself where he needed to go.”
Seay is also a team captain and a leader for American Canyon.
“He’s a great kid,” said Singer. “He’s one of those kids, he is just fun to coach. He’s respectful. He does the work that’s asked of him and leads by example.”
Seay played in the American Canyon program each of his four years. On defense, he played weak-side outside linebacker.
“He’s very strong on defense,” said Singer. “He wants to be out there and he wants to play ball. When he went in, we were always looking for him to make plays. He played very well for us.”
The Player of the Year award is an honor, said Seay.
“I thank my support group, my parents (Earl and Shannon Seay), my family, my coaches, my teammates. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without any of them,” he said.