Lake Norman Charter’s Scearce has visions of football greatness
by Chris Hunt
At first glance, it’s difficult to get a read on Lake Norman Charter football player Alex Scearce.
The slender 6-foot-2 sophomore’s eyes often hide behind his shaggy, blond hair, and his laid-back personality camouflages his competitive fire.
But once Scearce (pronounced SCARCE) puts on a helmet and buckles his chinstrap, his intentions become quite clear. It’s not so much his expression, which remains blank during a game; it’s his eyes that tell the secret.
With his hair pulled back under his headgear, it’s easy to see in Scearce’s eyes that he takes football extremely seriously. If you’ve never been close enough to see his face on the gridiron, all you have to do is ask most cornerbacks who’ve tried to stop Lake Norman Charter’s leading receiver, or you can just ask Knights’ quarterback Michael Dorsainvil.
“Sometimes when he has a smaller cornerback on him, he just looks at me, and I know he wants the ball because he has a mismatch,” Dorsainvil said. “He’s very easygoing until he puts on a helmet. Then he becomes someone else. He’s more aggressive and serious.”
In Lake Norman Charter’s first season of varsity play, Scearce has torched defensive backs for six touchdowns in seven games. Some of those catches have been circus-like, especially his one-handed grab against Union Academy on Aug. 20. In that game, Scearce pulled in a tipped pass while lying on his back. Since then, Lake Norman Charter coach Bob McKay has marveled at Scearce’s ability to make the impossible seem possible.
“Our offense wouldn’t be nearly as productive without Alex, because he’s our biggest weapon,” McKay said. “He’s made some incredible catches where he lays out horizontally, tucks (the football) in and rolls over to protect (it). Any time we run one-handed catching drills in practice, he gets it every time. It’s something you can’t teach.”
While Scearce’s hands impress his coach, Dorsainvil said Scearce’s eyes are his most important tools for beating the double teams he faces each game. Sure, Scearce has top-end speed. The sophomore hasn’t been timed in the 40-yard dash recently, but he was clocked at 4.8 seconds as an eighth-grader. And he’s caught 21 passes for 372 yards this fall. Still, Dorsainvil can’t help being impressed by Scearce’s uncanny ability to find the ball in flight.
“At 6-2, he’s got a lot of mismatches, and I definitely take advantage of that,” said Dorsainvil. “His vision is his best asset. He knows how to adjust to the ball – when to put on the brakes and what angle to take to make the catch. He helps me as a quarterback because I don’t have to throw the perfect pass for him to catch it.”
Scearce’s intensity on the field often goes unnoticed because of his calm demeanor. He said he’s more of an observer of people than an attention-seeker. His blank expression on the field isn’t aloofness; it’s more the result of studying an opponent’s body language and envisioning how a play could unfold during a game. Scearce added that he tries to keep quiet, especially in a huddle, so Dorsainvil can lead the team.
As for nervousness, well, that’s never been an issue, Scearce said. He might experience a few jitters before the game, but like most talented athletes, he knows how to turn off those uneasy feelings at kickoff.
“I know a lot of people get hyped, but I try to stay calm,” said Scearce. “Michael is the leader of the team, so I try to keep quiet in the huddle.”
Scearce’s passionate approach to football is motivated by his desire to land a college scholarship. He’s wanted to play college football since starting in the Lake Norman Giants’ system nearly eight years ago. He even put a lot of thought into his choice of jersey number. He selected No. 85 after his favorite number 87 was taken because he believed it would be easier for college recruiters to remember.
The unassuming Scearce also has a few outlandish stories to tell recruiters, such as the time he broke his left leg on the first day of basketball practice. As a freshman with tremendous leaping ability, Scearce landed awkwardly after a layup. He sprained his ankle so badly that the force broke a bone in his lower leg.
At first, Scearce thought someone hit him with a basketball in the leg, but a trip to the hospital ended his freshman season. That injury, however, didn’t prevent Scearce from showing up in top shape for football practice this season, nor will it keep him out of the basketball gym this winter.
Scearce also survived a bizarre accident that would have derailed most athletic careers. As a 13-year-old, Scearce shot off the second toe on his right foot with a shotgun during a skeet-shooting trip. He thought he was setting the gun’s safety, but he accidentally pulled the trigger. He did so in front of his parents and extended family. He considers himself lucky, even though he only has nine toes.
“If I had shot my big toe or the middle toe, doctors said my sports career would have been done,” said Scearce. “(The injury) hasn’t affected my speed at all. Two weeks later, I beat a friend in a race with my cast on. The only thing I can’t do is wear flip flops.”
If telling stories like that isn’t enough to catch the attention of college coaches, Scearce can show them film of his unforgettable, three-touchdown performance against Asheville School. In that game, he caught all three of the Knights’ touchdown passes, and as Dorsainvil points out, those catches were anything but ordinary.
“Even I was surprised about his catches against Asheville, especially the fade pass in the back of the end zone,” said Dorsainvil. “I thought I had overthrown him, but he still caught it. I haven’t seen a defense that’s stopped Alex Scearce this season.”
Against Asheville, Scearce also led the Knights in tackles. He’s done so all season long for the Class 1A charter school that dresses 20 to 25 football players each game. The small roster forces McKay to play his top players on offense and defense, but Scearce doesn’t mind the additional workload. He’s made the most of the extra reps, collecting a team-high 44 tackles from the safety position.
“I don’t mind playing at a small school because I see it as more of an opportunity to stand out for college recruiters,” said Scearce. “I kind of like defense more because I think I can read the other players’ eyes better as a safety.”
These days, many football players talk, scream and strut their stuff, but that’s overrated to Scearce. He’s proof that the true test of a player’s worth can be seen in a player’s eyes.