‘TIMEOUT’ with Chisum junior football player Ashton Fleming
During the 2018 UIL Football season, the Chisum Mustangs football team broke an 11-year playoff drought. Now, Chisum is in a prime position to make it two playoff trips in the last three seasons. One aspect each team shared was the presence of quality players such as Ashton Fleming.
The two-way player is in the midst of his junior season and has been impactful defensively and as a ball carrier. He had a head start early on with his size, but Ashton worked hard to grow into the player he is today.
“I didn’t really start playing football until I was in sixth grade,” Ashton said. “I decided that I wanted to play because I was kind of a bigger kid than everyone else was. I just continued to play over the years, perfect my game, work out, and got bigger and stronger.”
Having continuity within a program is key. On the football field, Chisum has been able to maintain stability in the trenches. With that, Ashton believes the chemistry and familiarity amongst the offensive linemen and ball carriers have been crucial to the Mustangs’ success in recent years.
“Ultimately, our offensive line really improved this year from the last few years,” Ashton said. “We’ve had a pretty solid line this year and last year with only a few guys leaving. We also have some really good backs this year with a few that moved up to varsity. They’re pretty consistent for us each game.”
Even though football is his main sport to his own admission, Ashton attributes his drive to improve on the basketball court as a factor in his improvement on the gridiron.
“Basketball really isn’t my strong sport and I had to keep working at that, which has raised my work ethic in football,” Ashton said. “I’ve worked hard over the years on basketball and put that to football. I think working hard at basketball has helped me improve a lot in football.”
Ashton has ambitious goals he set for himself. The junior is eager to earn scholarship offers to play college football, and he has faith in himself to pull it off.
“At the beginning of the season, I was looking at trying to get a few college offers,” Ashton said. “I think by the end of this season, I might have a few of those — hopefully.”
Football is in Ashton’s blood a few branches up his family tree. Ashton’s grandfather had the privilege of playing with one of only six Paris-native NFL players.
“My grandpa played with a guy named Raymond Berry,” Ashton said. “He played at Paris High and then went on to play in the NFL, which I’ve always thought was kind of cool.”
As long as he is outside, Ashton said he is usually in a good place. Stepping outside not only gives Ashton a chance to enjoy some fresh air but also melts any stress away.
“My happy place is being outdoors,” Ashton said. “I’ll just go outside, sit down, and just enjoy the weather and everything. I like being outside — it could be anywhere.”
The players must work hard to get back to improve and get back to the playoffs. Also, Ashton said hard work and solid execution are required to avoid getting roasted by the coaching staff.
“One of my coaches was making fun of my teammates because he kept dropping passes thrown to him catch after catch,” Ashton said, with a laugh. “The coach finally said to him, ‘Nice hands, feet.’”
Winning is always rewarding even if the weather is less than ideal. Last year, Ashton recalls the Mustangs’ big homecoming win over Prairiland. The rain, Mustang touchdowns, and celebration were all abundant throughout.
“Last year after we beat Prairiland in one of our big games, we got back into our locker room. The floor was soaking wet because it had been raining,” Ashton said. “We all just went sliding around in the locker room and had a lot of fun.”
Ashton and the Mustangs will take the field again at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30 at home against DeKalb. For more sports coverage, click here.