Mike Hobgood’s first year as Leesville head coach proved a tumultuous one, as the Pride (5-7, 3-4 Cap-8) lost their last four games (allowing 35 or more points in all four) to fall out of Cap-8 contention and, eventually, out of the playoffs.
Inexperience on both the offensive and defensive lines plagued the Pride, while season-ending injuries to key skill position players Khamari Alexander and Mason Pyper limited Leesville’s offensive versatility. The opponent’s leading rusher cracked triple-digits in six of 12 games, including each of the last four.
“We had a lot of inexperience…and injuries…but we still played hard, we still played through the whole season,” said Spencer Eason-Riddle, senior linebacker.
Vick will return as starting quarterback next autumn, along with receiver Jordan Moore, who appears poised to become the No. 1 target in the passing game. The linebacking corps will need to be rebuilt, but the Pride will retain experience at both the offensive line and defensive secondary.
“We’re losing a lot of good skill players, but we have a lot of linemen coming back…I’d always rather have it that way,” said Hobgood, a former lineman himself. “I think the lines will be a strength.”
Although the football program extended its streak of state playoff appearances to nine consecutive years, 2014 will go down as Leesville’s first losing season since a disastrous 1-9 campaign in 2005.
However, the graduating senior class of players, turning in their pads and helmets for the final time, had nothing but positive feelings on the past four years.
“The friendships are what you’re going to remember forever,” said Eason-Riddle. “All my seniors here…that’s the thing we’re going to remember, us going through the summer and the whole season together. It’s just one big family.”
Season Summary with Links to Recaps
Aug. 22 (home): Leesville 34, Jordan 12
Vick debuts with three TDs as Leesville overcomes first-game sloppiness, pulls away in second half.
Aug. 29 (away): Apex 44, Leesville 14
Upstart Apex and Isaiah Totten, who scores five TDs in the game, deal a wake-up blow to the Pride.
Sept. 12 (home): Leesville 27, Athens Drive 16
A trick play just before halftime, a goal-line stand and a 99-yard touchdown drive turn the momentum in Leesville’s favor.
Sept. 19 (away): Panther Creek 27, Leesville 0
Offense manages just five first downs in the entire game in dominant shut-out loss.
Sept. 26 (home): Heritage 14, Leesville 3
Leesville’s scoring woes continue despite defensive sturdiness, and an early Heritage touchdown proves to be the winning score.
Oct. 3 (away): Leesville 36, Broughton 26
Dehaney and Richardson come alive as Leesville rallies from a 19-7 deficit to roar past Broughton.
Oct. 10-13 (away): Leesville 41, Sanderson 19
After the fourth quarter is postponed to the following Monday, Leesville scores three touchdowns late to seal victory.
Oct. 17 (home): Leesville 28, Enloe 13
Pride find the end zone once in each quarter in methodical Homecoming victory.
Oct. 24 (away): Wake Forest 35, Leesville 17
Early lead disintegrates, big interception return fails to spark comeback in valiant first visit to Wake Forest.
Oct. 31 (home): Millbrook 44, Leesville 24
The game was far closer than the final score indicated, but Vick’s strong effort couldn’t match Marcus Marshall’s in the rivalry loss.
Nov. 7 (away): Wakefield 40, Leesville 35
Leesville commits seven turnovers, then falls short with 16-point fourth quarter comeback in regular season finale.
Nov. 14 (away): Wake Forest 42, Leesville 13
Leesville never stands a chance as powerful Wake Forest surges to 28-0 halftime lead, cruises to playoff victory.
Final Offensive Stat Leaders
Clay Vick…217 of 350 (62.0% completion rate), 2,695 yards, 21 TDs
Mike Dehaney…781 yards on 165 carries (4.73 YPC), 8 TDS
Trey Keeney…129 yards, 2 TDs
Mason Pyper…98 yards, 2 TDs
Elisiah Richardson…1,229 yards, 13 TDS
Connor Eller…574 yards, 7 TDs
Trey Keeney…320 yards, 3 TD
Jordan Moore…147 yards, 1 TD