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Ashbee leads Fox Chapel defense

| Thursday, Nov. 21, 2002

Lance Asbee never had much to say on game day.

"On Fridays, I didn't talk to anyone during the day, especially before game time," said Fox Chapel's senior middle linebacker. "I took it very seriously. It was more than a game to me."

Asbee let his play on the field do his talking.

And the performance of Fox Chapel's Defensive Player of the Year spoke volumes.

Asbee was a force, leading the team in tackles and setting the tone for Fox Chapel's defense with his hard-nosed, physical style of play.

"Lance is very intense and focused," Fox Chapel coach Todd Massack said. "He wants to win, and he did everything he could to help us win."

With Asbee patroling the middle of the field, Fox Chapel played its best defense in years and reached the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

The Foxes' season ended with a 27-12 first-round playoff loss to WPIAL Quad A finalist North Hills.

"I wish we could have taken it one step further," Asbee said.

Asbee also was a three-year starter at center for the Foxes.

"Lance was a good offensive lineman for us," Massack said. "Being a former center myself, I knew we needed someone there who was fundamentally sound. We asked a lot of Lance from that position."

Fox Chapel was small for a Quad A team. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Asbee was one of the Foxes' biggest players.

And he was the strongest.

"That came from Lance's hard work and commitment in the weight room and in our off-season workouts," Massack said.

Asbee combined that size and strength as a playmaker on defense.

"Lance is quick, too. He's not a slow player," Massack said. "We timed him at 4.89 in the 40 (yard dash), so he can move."

Asbee was willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team, as he proved late in the season when injuries depleted the Foxes' defensive line.

Massack asked his star linebacker to switch to a down position on the defensive line, and Asbee never questioned the move. Joe Pettinato took his place at middle linebacker for games against Trinity and Indiana, then Asbee returned to his old position for the North Hills playoff game.

"For some people, it would be a tough move to go from linebacker to the defensive line, but Lance didn't have a problem doing it. He did what was best for the team," Massack said.

"I would have been a kicker if they asked me to," Asbee said. "I just wanted to be on the field."

Asbee likely will be on the field for some college team next fall. Several smaller schools have shown interest, and he is considering walking on at Pitt, where his mom is employed.

Massack says whatever school ends up with Asbee will be getting a talented player who loves the game.

"I remember a game during Lance's junior year when he twisted his ankle, and we had a hard time getting him to come out of the game," Massack said. "He wants to play so bad.

"He just has that football attitude, and that's something we're trying to develop in all our players."

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