Lavontae Carlisle knew he had what it takes to go on to play college football, but he also knew his mind wasn’t in the right place.
Carlisle, a 6-foot-3-inch, 207 pound defensive lineman for the Richfield football team, was able to excel based off his size, strength and talent alone for his first few years of high school football, but he knew he was capable of more.
Prior to his senior year of football, Carlisle paired up with teammate Jason Stewart and worked out in the Richfield weight room every day.
“Me and Jason push each other to our max limits,” Carlisle said. “We’re not joking around about anything we do, we’re held accountable for everything we do and everything we do is 110 percent.”
Carlisle’s hard work and motivation paid off, as he recorded 14 sacks during the high school season and earned a spot on the Valley City State University football team, where he will be used as an outside linebacker.
“I worked for it all summer,” Carlisle said. “The hard work paid off, and I’m hoping if I do it again it will pay off in college.
“Playing a different position will be different, but I’m hoping to play better every year there, and then something comes after that.”
To prepare for his position change, Carlisle has again spent the summer in the weight room.
“I’m in the weight room every day, out on the field practicing covering people and stopping the rush,” Carlisle said. “I’m working on pass rushing against former lineman like [Class of 2017 lineman Joe Williams].”
So far, Stewart has been impressed with what he has seen from Carlisle.
“[Lavontae], he matured,” Stewart said. “Me and L.A. had our ups and downs, we weren’t tight from the jump, we weren’t tight in middle school.
“Sophomore year something clicked with us, [former head football coach Jon Wessel] wanted us to come to this football thing on Friday mornings, and once I saw where his mentality was at when it comes to football, I knew we had to get close. We both wanted to become the best.”
Carlisle and Stewart will have the opportunity to continue to work together at Valley City,as Stewart will also be joining the team this fall.
“It’s fun, that’s my guy,” Carlisle said. “We have been together for four or five years now, so our college doesn’t know what they’re in store for quite yet.
“We’re excited to start showing them.”
The pair is excited to see what it can accomplish at the collegiate level. While it will be nice to have a teammate there alongside him, Carlisle knows having Stewart by his side will also push him to be better.
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier because we push each other more than any coach could,” Carlisle said. “We make it harder for one another.”
Stewart also knows that having Carlisle with him through college will make him a better player.
“Nobody pushes as hard as him,” Stewart said. “He pushes me to the limit, every day we’re on the field, in the weight room pushing me to the limit and I’m trying to do the same thing for him.”
With Stewart by his side, Carlisle hopes to go on to play football professionally after his collegiate career has come to an end.
“When I go I hope to be the best player there,” Carlisle said. “I hope to go on to a bigger school and then go pro.
“School-wise, I hope to accomplish my major and if something doesn’t go as planned, I hope to have a good life after college.”
Follow Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris, or on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.