Prep Football: West Rowan's Laster signs with Livingstone

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 1, 2012

By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — Most of Zay Laster’s friends had some advice for the West Rowan quarterback when he told them he was going to sign a football scholarship with Livingstone.
“They told me, ‘Don’t go there. Don’t do this. Don’t do that,’ ” Laster smiled.
Laster has obviously been taught to listen to his elders, not his buddies. He took the advice of West coach Scott Young and the invitation of Livingstone coach Elvin James and decided, “This is what’s best for me and my family.”
So Laster, the 6-foot signal-caller is going to be taking his talents the 12 miles from Mount Ulla to Monroe Street. He’s going to be a Blue Bear.
And he brings exactly what James’ team needs — an athletic quarterback with leadership skills and an ability to throw the ball downfield.
“Coach James came in and watched film,” Young said. “They just hired a new offensive coordinator and they like how Zay throws the deep ball. They’re going to give him a chance to play immediately.”
Livingstone needs more offensive firepower, that’s for sure. Especially at quarterback where James has not been able to find that solid starter.
The Blue Bears have managed only one win in James’ two seasons as head coach. While the defense has had its moments, the offense barely averaged 100 yards per game in 2011, averaging nine points.
There was practically no passing game either, averaging just 57 yards per game.
“They need a quarterback,” Young stressed. “They’re going to more West Coast stuff. They’ve got a new offensive coordinator and there are really signs of improvement. With the players they have, the roster is significantly better.”
Young knows the roster got better as soon as Laster signed. He brings confidence.
Laster arrived at West for his senior season when his father got a job at the school. He quickly earned the starting job and led the Falcons to a 13-3 record and their fourth straight 3A state championship-game appearance.
“That’s something no one can take away from that kid,” Young said.
Laster finished with 1,231 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, while becoming an elusive runner. He darted and dodged his way to 671 on the ground.
Laster said he had no idea what to expect when he got to West but did notice one thing.
“Everyone had a winning attitude,” he said. “I like being around people like that.”
Livingstone should like the way Laster always seemed to step up in big games. He had 122 yards rushing on a rainy night at West Iredell, a win that clinched the school’s eighth straight NPC title. He had 150 yards of total offense in a resounding 33-7 Western 3A final victory at Burns.
He has the intangibles,” Young praised.
Laster showcased his passing skills in a 54-7 win over East Rowan. He threw for 174 yards and hit Jarvis Morgan — who’s headed to CIAA neighbor Winston-Salem State — four times for scores.
The Blue Bears hope that versatility continues in the fall.
“I’m just going to work hard, get everybody on the same page and have the same goal, which is to win football games,” Laster said.
Young doesn’t doubt his quarterback one bit.
“Coach James really believes that they’ll definitely take a giant step forward,” he said.
And Livingstone will do it with a West Rowan kid perhaps leading the way.
“I always thought I was good enough to play college ball,” Laster said.
A school right in his backyard will now give him that chance.