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Bethea has two reasons to be a success at KCU

Posted: June 1, 2017 3:40 p.m.
Updated: June 2, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Nicole Gainey/

NORTH CENTRAL’S DASHON BETHEA signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and football-playing endeavors at Kentucky Christian University. He was flanked by, from left, his sister, Unique Bethea, his mother, Arshala Hartzog, and his sister, Nevaeh Bethea. Standing, from left, are NC principal David Branham, NC assistant football coach Mitch Lowder, Bethea’s brother, Dra Bethea, Jena Branch and her son, Jamir Bailey, Bethea’s grandmother, Gwendolyn Hartzog, and former NCHS head football coach and athletic director Louis Clyburn.

Football is hard enough when you are playing the game for yourself and trying to make sure that you carry out the myriad of assignments which are asked of you throughout the 48-minute contest.

It can become even more difficult when playing for people other than yourself.

When jersey number five opened up at North Central High School prior to the start of the 2016 season, senior DaShon Bethea knew he had to wear it in honor of his friend and former Camden High linebacker Sterling Felder, who passed away due to injuries sustained in a traffic accident one week after his final game as a Bulldog in November of 2015.

Not only was Bethea, a third-year starter, playing for Felder but he wanted to go on from the playing field in Boonetown to compete at the college level for all his mother provided him throughout his young life.

Bethea was successful on both counts as his final season as a Knight resulted in his earning a football grant-in-aid to Kentucky Christian University. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound defensive back/wide out made it official when he signed his National Letter of Intent with the Knights in a ceremony held inside the NCHS gymnasium.

The signing completed a long and hard journey for Bethea, who made KCU co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Bret Story have to take notice him at a camp. Bethea made his way to the event at the suggestion of former NC head coach Louis Clyburn.

“Coach Clyburn sent me to a senior showcase and they saw me there and liked what they saw,” Bethea said. “It all started from there.”

Clyburn, now the offensive line coach at Camden High, said Bethea’s story is one of a young man determined to further his academic and football endeavors.

“We told DaShon that he had a couple of opportunities to go to these combines and he went out and got noticed,” said Clyburn. “I was proud of him of grabbing the bull by the horns and taking control of his own destiny.”

In his final season for the green and gold, Bethea led the Knights with three interceptions while bringing back one pick for a touchdown. He registered 31 tackles with 20 solo stops. On special teams, he averaged 24.4 yards on kickoff returns including a 94-yarder for a touchdown. He brought back seven punts for a 16.9-yard average.

On offense, he caught 12 passes for 149 yards --- both second on the Knights --- with a 66-yard touchdown grab.

The versatile Bethea was recruited by Story, a Spartanburg native whose sister lives and works in Kershaw County, as a slot receiver who may also be given a look in the secondary, a position which he prefers. “DaShon has always caught the ball well and he can really stretch the field,” Clyburn said of Bethea’s receiving skills.

“I’d rather play DB (defensive back),” Bethea said with a smile when asked of his preference on the field. “They said wide receiver or (defensive back.) Whichever one is beneficial to the team, I’ll play. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever I can do to help the team, I will do.”

Clyburn said all the KCU staff needs to do to make Bethea into a full-time receiver is to polish things up with his technique.

“All they need to do, really, is just refine in his route-running because DaShon hasn’t done it a lot. “He was primarily a defensive player here who ran some speed sweeps for us. At the same time, as with every student-athlete who takes that next step from high school to college, he has to get in the weight room and get stronger because everybody is stronger at the next level, regardless of what school you go to.”

KCU, located in Grayson, Ky., is an associate member of the Mid-South Conference; an NAIA-affiliated league. 

Bethea said he knows what he needs to do in order to find his way onto the playing field for the Knights.

“I have to get bigger,” Bethea said in echoing his coach’s comments. “There are going to be a lot bigger people in college but I think that I’m going to be ready. I’m working with (former NC teammate) Cedrick Cunningham, who is going to West Point, and I’m going to work with Coach Clyburn and (current NCHS) Coach Tyronne Drakeford so that I can be ready to play at this level. This is the dream I wanted to have come true.”

Bethea said he appreciated the work which Clyburn and his staff put into helping his dream become reality. “I started thinking about playing football in college after Coach Clyburn said, ‘I see the potential in you. I want you to be this player,’” he said.

Clyburn would not take all the credit for Bethea’s getting to this point. He said the young men under his watch have to be motivated and be willing to help themselves further their academic and athletic careers.

“DaShon Bethea is one of those young men who has grown since he got here as a ninth grader and has gotten more mature, year in and year out,” he said. “There is, certainly, always more room for growth by DaShon, who has certainly gotten more accountable in his last couple years of high school. 

“He has done a much better job of taking care of his business and learning those things that we try to teach to our young student-athletes so that they’re ready to go off and they’re more prepared to take that next step not only in terms of academics and football but just in real life, in general.”

Bethea said he is a leader whose “commitment, dedication and hard work” will take him in football and in life.

Through most of his journey, he was urged along by his mother. Then, in late 2015, the passing of Felder became another reason for his pushing himself to greater heights on and off the field. “I’m doing all this for Sterling and his mom, Mrs. Mary Adamson,” Bethea said.

His own mother, Arshala Hartzog, however, is the reason he said he has gotten to where he has today in a journey which is headed in a new and exciting direction which started with his signing.

“My mom was always pushing me … she saw it in me. I want to repay her for what she has done for me,” he said of his inspiration. “I’m just so happy that I can do this for my mom because she is my biggest fan.”

 

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