The Leesville Pride Football season ended on Thursday, November 10 with a loss against Wake Forest High School, 45-21.
The Pride easily won their first 4 games of the season against Wakefield, Panther Creek, Wallace-Rose, and Southern Durham.
They then had their first loss of the season against Wake Forest, 49-7.
The Pride picked it back up, beating Broughton at Leesvilles Homecoming game with a score of 49-15.
Gibbons then beat Leesville at the next game, 38-7.
The Pride then won the last three games of the regular season against Athens Drive, Sanderson, and Enloe.
Leesville faced off D.H Conley High School in the first round of playoffs in a close game, the score came out to 30-27.
The Pride’s last game of the season was against Wake Forest and was a loss for the Pride. Wake Forest scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter, but Leesville came back scoring 2 touchdowns in the first quarter.
Wake Forest then scored 35 points in the second and third quarters– the Pride scored zero. Leesville scored a touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, ending the game with a score of 45-21.
The season ended with a 9-3 record.
What Went Well?
When the season started, there weren’t any home games due to Leesville getting a new track. “Well we started our season with a bunch of away games and we handled that really well,” said Niko Sonye, senior, a safety and receiver.
This season, the offense overall had better stats than last season. “Offensively we did a good job running the ball…and threw the ball more,” said Josiah Gary, senior and a receiver and defensive back.
The team also had a great bond. “There was more team chemistry; I feel like everyone was cool with everyone,” said Xavier Lewis, sophomore, a defensive lineman.
“I feel like this senior group was still very close-knit. We would gather once every Wednesday night and have a senior dinner where we would eat together and have conversations that I think built a bond between us,” said Jacob Lail, senior and outside linebacker, over text.
What Went Wrong?
The Pride had a strong group of seniors that graduated last year. “[We] lost a lot of talent [this year], so we had to have some young guys step up in some positions and they had to grow up to the varsity level quickly,” said Lail.
“I’d say our defense wasn’t as strong as it was last year… it was because we were young in a lot of spots we certainly had more experience last year, so that’s the main thing,” said Gary.
The Pride also struggled to pick themselves up after a bad first quarter or bad plays. “You have to put bad plays behind you and move on to the next one because the most important play is the next play,” said Lail.
Fans watching the game saw a lack of energy on the field. “I think we just had some young guys who did not lose very often on JV and finally had to face some adversity this year when we would get down like the start of the Gibbons game as well as the Wake Forest game,” said Lail.
Others attributed this to a lack of team leadership. “I guess we didn’t have a huge vocal leader this year, last year we had Beau and this year we don’t really have that,” said Gary.
Dj Scott, senior: Scott is a running back for the Pride. This season he totaled 1345 yards and 17 touchdowns this season– making a career total of 3502 yards and 44 touchdowns in his past 3 seasons. “We depend on him with the ball, a quiet but deadly type of guy… he let his play talk for itself,” said Lewis.
Josiah Gary, senior: Gary is a receiver and defensive back for the Pride this season. He received 498 yards this season. He had 26 solos and 14 assists this season. “He did some great things on both sides of the ball and was a big offensive threat for us,” said Lail.
John Shaw, senior: Shaw is the quarterback for the Pride. He passed a total of 1614 yards this season, giving Shaw a career total of 4490 in his past 4 seasons.
Braxton Lassiter, junior: Lassiter is a defensive end and tight end. He totaled 14 solos, 14 assists, and had 5 sacks this season. “He contributed on both sides of the ball on the offensive line and defensive line and put the team first over himself. He made a ton of big plays on defense and brought pressure to the quarterback,” said Lail.
Micah Purvis, junior: Purvis is a middle-linebacker. He totaled 29 solos and 58 assists this season. “He’s the leader of the defense, he makes most of the plays… and rarely ever makes mistakes,” said Lewis.
Xavier Lewis, sophomore: Lewis is a defensive lineman. Lewis had 36 solos, 22 assists, and 6 sacks this season. “ [He is a] key contributor on the D-line. He moves very well from the D-line position and could stop the run very well,” said Lail.
Overall the Pride had a good season, while it ended quicker than they hoped, it was still a solid building year. The goal is “an undefeated championship-winning season next year,” said Lewis.
“Overall I’m very proud of this team, and I will remember this year for the rest of my life!” said Lail.