Rewind to Senior Night 2011. All of Leesville’s worst fears come true: Starting QB Austin Berrios is injured, unable to return. Sophomore Malcolm Hitchcock is called upon to fill gigantic shoes. He lined up under the center, and for his first play as a starting QB, he fumbled the snap.
“After that game, I watched the film and said ‘I can’t let this happen again’. It gave me inspiration to become a better player, every practice and every game,” he said.
Fast forward two years. Leesville High is coming off back-to-back losses, reeling after an injury to QB Braxton Berrios. Leesville had been undefeated in the Cap-8 for two years. They had lost their identity, their confidence.
“I sat down with coach, and he said I would have to make the transition to QB. I was happy…I felt like it was my time to step up and lead the team.”
His first start was against Broughton, a crucial home game. He went on to rush for three touchdowns and throw for one more, and led the team to a 42-14 win.
Then came Sanderson — the confident Spartans had improved from their previous horrendous seasons. It was Leesville’s homecoming, and Sanderson had come to spoil it.
Hitchcock was all over the field. Late in the first quarter, he threw for a touchdown to Connor Eller and ran for another touchdown in the third quarter. Then, down 17-14 in the 4th quarter, he ran in a short touchdown to put the team up 21-17. A couple possessions later, with the score still the same, he ended the game with a 43-yard pick six.
The success continued for the multi-faceted Hitchcock, as he led Leesville to a 57-27 win over Enloe a week later. His first three starts at quarterback had resulted in a 3-0 record for the Pride.
The Berrios injury, formerly a disaster for the Pride, has helped the football team find themselves. “Now we’re a team, instead of just a superstar,” Hitchcock said. “It brought us closer; when your brother goes down, people have to step up to save the family.”
Hitchcock dons number 1, a reflection of his favorite player: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. “He’s got a confident personality, and he’s continued to improve.” Hitchcock has tried to model his mindset after the former Heisman Trophy winner.
With his recent success at quarterback, this factoid about Malcolm may surprise you: He views himself as a defensive player. He hits, and he hits hard, from his defensive position at strong safety.
If you don’t believe me, check out this vicious hit he put on a poor, unsuspecting Wakefield receiver: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFxH9P1-fxE (Play starts at 0:32)
Another motivator for Malcolm is his father, a former NFL player. “I wanted to be better than him in everything he did,” Hitchcock said. “He set a precedent, but I’m trying to finish it.”
Every time Malcolm steps on the field, he wants to make his own name, carve his own niche on the gridiron. His dad gives him confidence, and doesn’t pressure him.
Despite his success on the football field, he has maintained a straight head and a down-to-earth personality.
When all is said and done, after the lights turn off in Hamilton Stadium and the 2013 Leesville football season is a thing of the past, Malcolm Hitchcock wants to be known and remembered for his personality as much as his skills on the gridiron. “[I want people to say] I was a good person, and I could play some football.”