The Leesville varsity football team began their 2013 season in dominant fashion, routing Jordan Durham 62-21 on Friday, Aug. 23.
Braxton Berrios, senior quarterback, accumulated 206 yards and four touchdowns on nine first-half carries to lead the Pride to a cruising victory.
Shifting from running back to quarterback to fill the hole left by departed senior Evan Parker, Berrios, a four-star college recruit, shredded the Jordan defense on touchdown runs of 52, 30, 60 and 28 yards.
Leesville’s offense was also bolstered by rushing touchdowns from Malcolm Hitchcock and Marcel Hawkins, seniors, and Mike Dehaney and Mason Pyper, juniors. Hitchcock finished second on the team with 82 rushing yards as well as an exciting, broken tackle-laden punt return to the house.
“We’re fortunate enough to have explosive players — and not just Malcolm and Braxton, there are several others,” said Jeremy Fullbright, offensive coordinator. “The key to [the big plays] was them being able to get into space and then make people miss, which is what they do best.
Chad Smothers, head coach, agreed. “Getting our athletes out in space is what really got them going. We ran option with Braxton [and] got him out in the open. He’s a dynamic player.”
“Malcolm broke some tackles on that punt return, and he’s also another player that when he gets an opportunity…he’s gonna score.”
The offensive line was given plenty of praise for their shutdown work, as well. Smothers called out the contributions of Chris Pendergraft and Bryan Henriques, senior linemen, in particular.
“Everybody [did] their jobs,” said a grateful Berrios. “It was all the men up front and even outside when I bounced it.”
The Pride overcame an early Jordan touchdown by scoring 42 consecutive points to take a decisive halftime lead, allowing the team to use more players and run the ball more often in the second half en route to a whopping 464 team rushing yards.
“We were fortunate enough to get a few big plays early, and that gave us a little bit of a buffer so that we could…establish what we wanted to do,” said Fullbright. “In the second half, we were able to sustain some drives, and I think the kids up to game speed and were able to finish out the game real strong.”
“We finally woke up after the first five minutes, “ said Berrios. “They scored on us first…but after that, we got rolling.”
Note: Observations taken from the preceding week of practice will be used for a lengthy feature, set to be published later this season.