Sun. Aug 14th, 2022
Leesville Road busts out of the tunnel on Senior Night, October 28. The Pride went on to defeat Wake Forest-Rolesville 41-16 and claim the outright Cap-8 conference title. Photo courtesy of Michael Frink.

Blistering cold, constant rain, even seemingly insurmountable injuries– nothing could stop the Pride. With Leesville Road’s 41-16 victory over Wake Forest-Rolesville on Friday, October 28, the Pride did what no other team in school history had been able to: win the Cap-8 conference title outright and go undefeated in the regular season, finishing at a remarkable 10-0.

“Going undefeated is a huge accomplishment,” said Alec Triggiano, senior. “The fact that we’re the first team to do that shows how special we can be.”

While the final score may indicate a blowout, the game certainly didn’t appear that way at first. On the first play from scrimmage, Austin Berrios, senior and starting quarterback, returned the kickoff to around the 50-yard line but injured his knee in the process.

With Berrios out of the game, the Pride’s offense had trouble getting going, committing two turnovers in the first quarter alone. Struggling but never giving up, Leesville turned from one Berrios to the next, as Braxton Berrios, sophomore, moved from starting wide receiver to quarterback. The Pride never looked back, going into halftime with a 14-3 lead over the Cougars.

Coach Chad Smothers acknowledged how Braxton Berrios’ play contributed to Leesville’s victory. According to The News & Observer, Smothers said,“Braxton did a great job and held it together in the first half. Braxton is such a competitor, but I’m sure he had a little extra motivation with his brother injured.”

The younger Berrios echoed the words of his head coach. “It’s hard seeing your brother- whether it’s your team brother or your real brother- go down like that. I did it for my team. I had to do it,” said Berrios, when speaking to The News & Observer.

After the Cougars cut Leesville’s lead to four early in the third quarter, the Pride went off on offense, scoring more than twenty unanswered points. Spenser Rose, junior, described the momentum Leesville Road had after scoring those points. “We started gaining confidence when we were executing on offense,” said Rose. “Watching the score get away higher and higher must have been pretty hard for [Wake Forest-Rolesville].”

The Cougars did manage to score again; Wake Forest-Rolesville broke a long touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, but the game was already over. As the Cougar runner darted into the end zone, fireworks were high in the sky over Marshall L. Hamilton Stadium.

This victory marks the first time the Pride have beaten Wake Forest-Rolesville since 2002. “Finishing off an undefeated season, at home, on Senior Night, against those guys– it was just a great night,” said Triggiano.

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