The same team. The same stadium. The same round. The same record.
On paper, Leesville football’s 56-35 third-round loss to Garner in the NCSHAA 4AA playoffs was hardly different than last year’s 42-21 defeat. Once again, the Pride fell to the Trojans by three crucial touchdowns, and, once again, Leesville’s season ended with 12 wins and one heartbreaking loss.
But, no matter what the statistics show, 2012 was far more than just another impressive season in Leesville’s prestigious football history.
2012 was the year of Evan Parker, a senior transfer from Sanderson, not just replacing, but possibly overachieving, graduated quarterback Austin Berrios. Parker completed 73 passes for 1,240 yards—including 22 for 282 yards and three touchdowns against Garner—and ran for another 829 yards and 11 touchdowns.
2012 was the year of Braxton Berrios, junior team captain, tearing apart the Cap-8 for a truly unbelievable season. Berrios racked up a whopping 1,142 rushing yards and 766 receiving yards for 32 total touchdowns—with 180 of those yards and three of those touchdowns coming against the Trojans.
2012 was the year of Maurice Lauchner and Kamir Bowen, senior running backs, and their combined 1,142 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. 2012 was the year of Tucker Bell, Devin Williamson, Brock Pyper and the rest of the defense, which held Leesville’s opponents to an average of just 18.9 points per game. 2012 was the year, in truth, of all 56 Leesville football players who dedicated themselves, night in and night out, to making this season as good as it could possibly be.
“I love every single one of these guys on the team,” said Parker. “When it comes down to it, I played how I did [against Garner] to try to get these guys one more game, so I could play one more game with them. I just wanted to go out there and have fun. It’s been the best football season of my life.”
And while he may not have worn any shoulder pads himself, 2012 was the year of Chad Smothers, head coach, as well. As he put it personally, “In the two years I’ve been the head coach here, we’re 24-2, have won two conference championships, have gone 12-0 two times in a row [and have] made it to the third round twice”—a pretty incredible track record, to say the least.
No, this wasn’t just another impressive season. This was, very possibly, the best season in Leesville Road High School history. And, as Smothers said before anything else after the Friday, Nov. 6, loss to Garner, “One night is not going to identify us. It cannot take away what we accomplished this year.”
“Tonight…is not going to diminish the kind of season we had.”
Seniors Will be Missed
Evan Parker, Maurice Lauchner, Kamir Bowen, Devin Williamson and Tucker Bell’s impacts on Leesville’s 2012 football season were tremendous, but the entire senior class of players will be missed next season.
De’Rahjai Robinson caught two touchdowns passes and started at cornerback this season; Jacob Cowart blocked the way for a number of outside runs; Selo Kuvana’s support and leadership kept the team motivated; Tom Nycz made more extra points than any Leesville kicker in years; nine senior linemen helped the Pride dominate the trenches.
Needless to say, a transition is in store for the team in 2013. Sophomores Mason Pyper and Spencer Eason-Riddle could prove themselves the team’s next big stars, while junior linemen Chris Pendergraft and Alex Butler, among others, will have to step up and replace a number of graduated starters. Malcolm Hitchcock, current junior, has the ability to be Leesville’s best wide receiver in years.