WESTON -- Some might say that Weston High's Tyler Hassett already had enough on his plate coming into this season as a quarterback-cornerback-return man dynamo.
His head coach, Joe Lato, apparently thought otherwise.
Lato thought so highly of Hassett's athleticism and football I.Q. that in August, he summoned the senior to fill the Trojans' glaring need at punter following the graduation of all-state honoree J.D. Simons.
"Just this year because I just told him to do it," Lato said with a laugh. "I said, `You can catch the snaps, you're athletic. Figure it out.' "
And he did just that.
"After a couple punts and knowing the protection and everything, it got easy," Hassett said.
Given Hassett's ability to learn on the go, it comes as no surprise to Lato that the triple threat has met every challenge this year and has Weston off to a 4-0 start.
A three-year starter at quarterback, the 6-foot 160-pound Hassett has been a one-man highlight reel, gutting opposing defenses with his arm and his legs. He's been efficient through the air, throwing for 525 yards and seven touchdowns, with just one interception. He's been just as lethal on the ground with 371 rushing yards (7.5 yards per carry) and six touchdowns.
"It's what we needed and it's what we expected, at the same time," Lato said. "We knew he had it inside of him."
Hassett's role in Weston's triple-option offense intensified over the offseason when the team's leading rusher, Dan Rogers (788 yards, 13 touchdowns in 2011), transferred with his brother Pat to Daniel Hand High School in Madison. All at once, Hassett became the main man in the Trojans' backfield.
"We tried to get the ball to Danny so many different ways that maybe we didn't get a chance to highlight Tyler too much," Lato said. "I think Tyler was more of a point guard last year, just getting the ball to Danny. This year, we've been more balanced."
Hassett said he still thinks of himself as a "point guard" but he isn't doing as much distributing now.
"After Danny left I knew I had to pick up the carries and everything," he said. "We needed a spark on offense and I feel like I've been that spark, at least for the first four games."
Hassett doesn't anticipate slowing down anytime soon.
"I think we're surprising a lot of people because we're always that little town, Weston. But I don't think they're going to be able to figure us out because our triple offense, even if they know we're running it, they can't stop it," he said.
As explosive as Hassett has been this season, engineering an offense that's averaging 37 points a game, opponents are learning that he's more than just a quarterback. Much, much more.
Hassett, in his third year starting at cornerback, has 16 tackles and two interceptions. He also returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown in Weston's 48-20 win over Immaculate last Saturday and is the holder on field goals and extra points.
"Tyler is as complete a high school football player as you're going to get. Defensively, he's no exception," Lato said. "He's made some really heads up plays in his career. ... He's very football savvy."
Hassett said his knowledge of the game often comes from spending extended time on both sides of the ball.
"I'm just using what I know at quarterback to benefit me on defense, like reading the quarterback's shoulders and everything," he said.
As Lato mentioned, a lot of those smarts also come from preparation. Hassett has gained a reputation from the team as a tireless worker and has spent a good chunk of his time in both the weight room and film room. In the offseason, he trained with a quarterback coach and organized throwing sessions with Weston's receivers.
"Anything that was football related that he could get his hands on, he was doing it. It shows," Lato said. "Film study, whatever, he'll do whatever it takes to help the team."
With the exception of halftime and the breaks between quarters, Hassett rarely, if ever, steps off the field on game day. But if he's ever tired, don't expect him to ask for a rest.
"No," Hassett said with a smile. "I love it so much."
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