In many ways, Tajon Vassar is a microcosm of the entire Doherty football team.
An overlooked kid who puts in the work, plays both sides of the ball, and is trying to live up to the accomplishments of his older brother, Vassar embodies the traits of many on this year’s hopeful Highlanders.
Now a junior, Vassar still has some things to prove, but after a breakout sophomore campaign much will be expected of the electric running back and defensive back.
“We’re lucky with Tajon, because he’s one of our best players, if not our best player, and he’s also the hardest worker,” Doherty coach Sean Mulcahy said. “You don’t always have that. He works hard, and he’s gotten physically bigger and stronger this offseason, which will obviously help.”
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Last year Vassar was the region’s Mighty Mouse. At only 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, the then-sophomore still proved to be a slippery runner with the ball in his hands and a feisty corner who often shadowed the opponent’s best receiver. Now an inch taller and 12 pounds of muscle heavier, Tajon is more equipped to take the physical beating featured running backs take on a week-to-week basis.
Coming off a year when he led Doherty in rushing with more than 800 yards and 11 touchdowns, Vassar believes he can take the next step in 2017.
“Last year was amazing, just getting out there as a sophomore,” Vassar said. “I was just training and learning from the guys before me. Now I’m ready for the season.”
Watch Vassar’s Hudl.com highlight video
Like many of his classmates, Vassar has a locally famous older brother who starred for Doherty before him. Fellow junior Paul Yiadom is the younger brother of current Boston College defensive back Isaac Yiadom, and senior Phil Adarkwah’s older brother Alfred just received a scholarship at UMass.
More from the Sun: Big brothers in the big time, Doherty legacies live on
There are numerous others, but perhaps no set of brothers are more different on the field than the Vassars. While Tajon’s older brother, Tavian, had success running the ball for the Highlanders, he was more a Mack truck than the sports car Tajon is, and Tavian may have been even more feared as a physical defensive lineman than as a ball carrier.
Tavian played football for Bucknell before switching to the school’s rugby team. The polar opposite of his brother as a runner and defender, Tajon still has the skills to lead Doherty to a big year.
Now a member of the newly realigned Division 3 Central, Doherty’s level of postseason competition is about to pick up. The Highlanders need to deal with powers like St. John’s, Leominster and Wachusett should they make the playoffs, but this close-knit and now experienced group is up for the challenge.
“We’ve been close since we were kids,” Vassar said of Doherty’s upperclassmen core. “I met Paul (Yiadom) in the seventh grade, he’s been my boy since. We’ve all been playing together for a while, so now once we get on the field, it’s easy.”
Doherty opens its season at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Foley Stadium against regional power Wachusett.