Away from the football field, Alex Alders smiles and is soft-spoken and polite.
That mentality switches once helmets and pads are on, and a football is in the air.
“Alex is a laid-back, kind of funny kid with a dry sense of humor, but once it turns to anything competitive he has got a mean streak where it is fun to be on his team,” Nordonia coach Jeff Fox said.
Alders enters his junior year with five varsity letters courtesy of football, basketball and baseball. He succeeds in all three sports, but football appears to be his best as he lines up all over the field to help the Knights as a wide receiver, strong safety, kick returner, punt returner and long snapper.
“Alex is so special because he is a really smart player that can do any role that we ask him to do,” Fox said. “He is the quarterback of our secondary that gets us in every coverage. We can have him play man-to-man, we can have him be the free safety over the top or we can have him roll into the box of the linebacker. Offensively, he can run the ball on our jet sweeps. He is a good man-to-man beater. He is a good route runner with good hands and he is a really tough, competitive kid overall. On the top of all of that, he returns everything, too. The fact that he is so smart and so versatile, is impressive.”
Alders, who is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, played a key role last year for Nordonia. The Knights posted a 7-4 overall record, a 5-2 mark in the Suburban League and appeared in the Division I playoffs. His brother, Tyler Alders, graduated in 2013 after being the Knights’ quarterback and punter as a senior.
“Tyler was even more laid-back, and very similar to Alex,” Fox said. “Tyler brought that toughness, too. Last year when it was third-and-1, we gave it to our quarterback a lot of times because Tyler was such a special and tough kid. Alex brings a lot of that to the table, too.”
Alex Alders had 62 receptions for 1,022 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, and he rushed 12 times for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
“Playing with Tyler made everything a lot easier because he was always there to teach me, especially at home,” Alex said. “We would go over stuff and watch film together. Him showing me the reads made it easier for me at receiver.”
Alex’s work defensively led to 64 tackles, three tackles for loss, three interceptions, four fumble recoveries and seven pass break-ups. He also averaged 25.5 yards per kickoff return and 12.7 yards per punt return.
He is one of Gary and Lisa Alders’ six children. He has three older brothers (Eric, Zak and Tyler), a younger brother (Luke) and a younger sister (Megan). Gary played quarterback at Centerville High School and then lettered during four seasons as an outside linebacker at Ohio State.
Alex, who also scored two touchdowns as a freshman (one receiving, one kickoff return), is a college prospect being recruited by several Division I football programs.
His focus though is on his team and hopes for another successful season.
“Our expectations are higher,” Alders said. “We have a lot of returning starters on the defensive side and offensive side, especially at wideout. Our running back [senior Jordan Nobles] is returning, too. I believe we should be better than last year.”
The Knights did lose several key players to graduation, but Fox is happy to have Alders and Nobles back in the fold along with seniors Brandon Rem, Alex Woicehovich and Sterling Brabson.
“We just have to prepare each week, whether it be run or pass,” Alders said. “There are a lot of different schemes in the Suburban League. There is spread and there is power. Overall, I think we will be a really good team this year.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.