INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The state’s leading tackler isn’t a big kid. At 5-foot-7, you wouldn’t think he’d be his team’s leading tackler.
But there’s just something about Tavian Rashed. The Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior is small, but his production on the football field never has been.
“He is just a great competitor,” Jefferson Coach Brian Webb said. “He’s one of the hardest workers in our weight room, he loves athletics. He wants to compete. Tavian has that internal fire that has allowed him to be so outstanding.”
Rashed led Class 4A in tackles last season and has a large lead on every player, regardless of class, through three weeks this season. He has 56 1/2 tackles, 46 solos, including four for loss, heading into Jeff’s inner-city game Friday night against Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Kingston Stadium.
The guy with the next-highest tackle total in the state is West Marshall’s Chase Burr with 44 1/2. Rashed broke Jefferson’s school record for most tackles in a career, which is really saying something, surpassing J-Hawk defensive coordinator Chris Buesing.
“Not really,” Rashed said, when asked if Buesing gave him any grief for surpassing his mark. “He’s proud of me.”
As well he should be.
“The d-line helps me so much,” Rashed said. “They give me space to to make the tackle ... When I’m on the field, I can’t think about my size. I just have to make the play.”
“He’s just got a will to win,” Webb said. “Ever since he came in here to Jefferson as a freshman, he’s been a little different. He’s done things a little different than others in order to succeed.”
Rashed also is Jefferson’s top running back, which means he rarely comes off the field. Also an outstanding wrestler, Webb said he thinks football is what he’ll pursue in college.
When pushed, Rashed agrees. The coach said he believes Rashed’s future lies on the defensive side of the ball somewhere, though Rashed said he’d rather be a running back.
Though he’s short, he’s a very solid 187 pounds.
“That’s pretty tough,” he said, when asked if he prefers playing offense or defense. “I love both of them. I’d probably have to say offense, just because you can score.”
One thing’s for sure. When you have a high motor and the ability to tackle and run, they’ll find a spot for you somewhere
“Some kids wear down in a game when they play as much as Tavian does,” Webb said. “But with him, you can never tell a difference. You can’t tell if it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter.”
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