Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's Official: Gooden Off To Missouri School

February 10, 1993
By Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff

LEESBURG — Steve Gooden isn't sure if it was mother's intuition or the look on his face, but somehow his mother knew Sunday night that he had signed a national letter-of-intent to play football at Southwest Baptist University.

''It was kind of funny. As soon as I came in she said, 'You signed, didn't you?' I said, 'Yeah,' ''
Gooden said.

''I guess it was just a feeling that she had.'' Gooden, Leesburg High School's starting quarterback for the past three years, signed with Southwest Baptist during a recruiting trip there last weekend, but the signing didn't become official until his mother, Shirley, also signed.

Gooden brought the papers home, his mom signed them and they were mailed back to Southwest Baptist Tuesday. Gooden joins Leesburg linebacker Ty Lawrence, who also signed with the Bearcats during the recruiting trip.

Southwest Baptist, an NCAA Division II school with an enrollment of about 3,500, held open two grant-in-aids, one for Lawrence and the other for Gooden. Lawrence, The Lake Sentinel's two-time defensive player of the year at linebacker, is expected to play on the Bearcats' defensive line. Gooden could be the option quarterback they were looking for.

''In the past few years, they had been recruiting a lot of throwing quarterbacks because they were more a run-and-shoot type team,'' Gooden said. ''But now they have a new coach and they want to run the option. They aren't sure if their quarterbacks can run the option.''

Gooden grew up in Leesburg's option attack, quarterbacking the Wishbone and then the I-Bone offenses. During the past two seasons, he rushed 129 times for 411 yards and 11 touchdowns and passed only 73 times, completing 31 for 687 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Although Leesburg posted 8-2 and 10-2 records the last two seasons, Gooden's contributions to what turned out to be one of Central Florida's best offenses were overlooked, mostly because of his height (5 feet 6).

''I think schools look at me and they say, 'He can run the option, but he is only 5-6,' '' Gooden said. ''At Southwest, everything (the pass plays) are either going to be rollouts or play action. A lot of colleges don't run that kind of offense and they aren't going to change for a 5-6 quarterback.''

Despite displaying good ability at running the offense, Gooden didn't receive any interest from colleges until Southwest Baptist called. They saw Gooden on videotape and decided they wanted him.

''I feel very fortunate for that to happen,'' Gooden said. ''You don't get any letters, any calls. After my senior year, I figured I wasn't going to play football in college.

''Then, somebody calls out of the blue and offers you a full scholarship. Somebody out there has been praying for me.''

By Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff
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Leesburg's Freeze picks Lenoir-Rhyne

April 20, 2007 Adam Minichino

LEESBURG - Leesburg High School football coach Charles Nassar admires Luke Freeze too much to call him a "pipsqueak."

Freeze, though, doesn't hesitate to use that word to describe his size and appearance three years ago.

These days, thanks to Freeze's hard work in Nassar's weight training system and football program, he has matured into a 5-foot-11, 235-pound senior standout.

But Freeze's accomplishments are only part of the story, and they only begin to illustrate why Nassar is so proud of his senior offensive lineman.

"Luke is the absolute model for what we tell our guys," Nassar said. "If you're good enough to play in Central Florida and start on a district competitive team and you take care of your business in the classroom, you're good enough to play somewhere."

Freeze realized that goal last week when he signed a letter of intent to play football at Lenoir-Rhyne College, a Division II school in Hickory, N.C. He made his decision official Wednesday, on his 18th birthday, at Leesburg High School.

He said he also considered Maryville College (Tenn.), Averett University (Va.) and Charleston Southern University (S.C.).

Freeze was a mainstay at center this past season for the Yellow Jackets (7-4). He also played some at linebacker early in his career at Leesburg.

Next season, Freeze figures to compete for playing time at both positions for first-year coach Fred Goldsmith, who inherits a program that went 3-8 in 2006 and loses 10 seniors from this past season.

Freeze said he visited Lenoir-Rhyne College last year during spring break. He said the coaches seemed very interested at that time, and he remained in touch with the program through the change of head coaches.

Freeze, who has a 3.8 grade-point average, plans to study sports management, with the hope of becoming a coach. He said he is just as proud of his work in the classroom as he is of his maturation as a football player. He thinks both played significant roles in helping him land a combined academic and athletic scholarship.

"I am kind of small, but my academics are good," Freeze said.

Nassar said Freeze has "worked his tail off" in the weight room to play at Leesburg and to realize the goal to play college football. Nassar said Freeze's bench press has improved 200 pounds and his squat has increased 350 pounds in three years. He said some of that is natural, but he said someone doesn't get as strong as Freeze is without being dedicated.

Nassar said Freeze's attitude about his work in the weight room and his studies are similar. He said Freeze's skills in the classroom helped him attract attention from nearly 20 schools at a college recruiting fair in February at Lake Wales High School.

"A lot of people think the high school coach has way more to do with the process of the scholarship than he actually does. The role of the high school coach is to introduce the player to the college," Nassar said. "Our job is to expose our athlete to those colleges where we think they best fit. Luke's academic prowess finished the deal. Anybody who starts for us or Eustis or Tavares, etc., is good enough to play college football somewhere."

Freeze said Nassar made him and the Yellow Jackets believe in him and his program. He said the belief in Nassar and his system helped him realize a goal to play in college that he has had since the first day he strapped on his pads.

"I came in a little scrawny and like a pipsqueak, and now I am bigger," Freeze said. "Investing in his program got me where I am today."

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Citrus Puts Squeeze On Leesburg Hurricanes Triumph On Late Scoring Pass

September 24, 1988 | By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff

INVERNESS — Quarterback Monty Grow hit tight end Glenn Ryan on an 8-yard slant pattern over the middle with 28 seconds remaining to spoil a great defensive effort by Leesburg and give Citrus a 7-0 victory in a non-district high school game Friday night at Hurricane Field.

Ryan's touchdown capped a 90-yard, fourth-quarter drive, as the Hurricanes (2-1) seemed to take advantage of a tiring Leesburg (1-1) defense and capture the victory before about 2,500 fans.

Citrus, which failed to score on two other opportunities deep in Leesburg territory, went almost exclusively with tailback Todd Williams in the second half. Williams had 24 carries for 107 yards. Eighteen of those carries, including eight on the final drive, came in the second half.

Williams' biggest run of the drive was a 12-yarder that came on a third- and-two from the Hurricanes' 36. Grow also helped keep the drive alive a little earlier with an 11-yard bootleg on third down from Citrus' 17.

Leesburg's breakdowns on Citrus' final drive were the only ones for the Yellow Jacket defense, which spent almost twice as much time on the field as Citrus' did. Citrus ran 57 offensive plays, Leesburg only ran 37.

The Yellow Jackets tried two desperation pass plays in the final 26 seconds but Tommy Willis, who replaced starting quarterback Greg Engle on the final series because he has a stronger arm, had a pass intercepted by Grow with 2 seconds remaining.

Leesburg's offense was handicapped throughout the game by poor field position. Leesburg had drives that started twice on the 15, on the 13, one the 20 and on the 1.

Jackets' Lewis, Smith on to Texas

LEESBURG - Leesburg High School football coach Charles Nassar never has believed he is the only person responsible for helping his players get into college.

Nassar believes in setting a high standard for his players and challenging them every day to surpass those expectations.

The result, Nassar hopes, is players will realize how hard they need to work and then do all of the legwork to realize that goal.

A talented and driven senior class helped Nassar and the LHS football program realize its goals in 2005.

Thanks in part to years of diligence in the weight room, Leesburg finished as the runner-up in Class 4A-District 6 and earned its first playoff appearance since 2001, and its first in Nassar's four seasons at the school.

Michael Lewis and Mark Smith were at the forefront of the program's maturation.

As seniors, they set an example in the weight room and served as leaders in the Yellow Jackets' 8-3 season.

Lewis' and Smith's leadership and play on the field gave them an opportunity to continue their football careers in college.

Lewis and Smith will leave next week for Ranger College in Texas, where they will prepare for the first day of the football team's training camp on Aug. 6.

"Mike and Mark have grown up with us," Nassar said. "They played all four years at Leesburg. It has been nice to watch them mature from high school boys to young men.

"It speaks to the maturity of these young men that they have done the finishing legwork to get themselves somewhere."

The former Leesburg High School standouts signed paperwork for their financial aid in late May and hope to help the junior college program grow just like they helped Leesburg's program grow.

"We had to build a program at Leesburg and look how it has turned out, with the weights and everything," Lewis said. "I am not really worried about what it is going to be like. I know I just have to go out there and give it my all."

Lewis, a 5-foot-11, 223-pounder, played running back and linebacker last season for the Yellow Jackets.

Smith, who is 5-9 and weighs 176 pounds, played quarterback and in the secondary. Both rushed for more than 600 yards.

"Football is my life," Smith said. "My (grade-point average) in ninth grade was real low and Coach (Nassar) told me I wasn't going to be able to play football if I didn't raise my GPA."

Smith played safety with the varsity team the final three games of his freshman season. He said he raised his GPA above 2.0 between his freshman and sophomore years. He said he had a 2.5 GPA as a senior.

Smith said the importance Nassar placed on academics helped him mature on and off the field.

"Coach is always talking about setting an example as a student-athlete, not just an athlete," Smith said. "If you're just an athlete, people in the school will think you're a dummy. Everybody just watched us and we showed them how to get the job done, and they followed."

Smith also credits Nassar for helping him understand doing well in the classroom is just as important as doing well on the football field.

"Now I know when I go to college I can't play around and I have to get my school work taken care of," said Smith, who plans to study criminal justice or business.

Nassar said he started to contact college coaches about Lewis and Smith in February after National Signing Day. He called former Leesburg High School defensive coordinator Jeff Brown, who is the defensive coordinator at Ranger College.

Nassar said Brown was immediately interested after he saw tapes of the two players.

"I just remember them having good heads on their shoulders and being good athletes," said Brown, who coached at Leesburg in 2002 and '03. "We recruit guys we feel will be good for our program on and off the field."

Brown said both players will be in the mix to earn playing time. He said competition will be strong at every position as the team prepares for its season opener Aug. 26 against Highland Community College.

"I think these kids may have slipped through the cracks," Brown said. "I think there are a lot of schools between here and there that would like to have them."

Brown credited former Leesburg High School standout Anthony Saincilaire, a rising sophomore on the Ranger College football team, for helping to bring Lewis and Smith to Texas.

Former Leesburg standout Maurice Shuler also recently signed to play basketball at Ranger College.

Lewis said having friends in school will help him and Smith adjustment to being away from home.

Nassar is looking forward to getting a lot of positive feedback about Lewis and Smith.

"Ranger College offers them a chance to start over academically," Nassar said. "They both worked very hard (academically), and this gives them a clean slate to work themselves into a position to go to a four-year school."

Lewis and Smith join a growing list of Yellow Jackets in college. Tory Harrison (Southern Mississippi) and Randall Sullivan will try to continue their football careers this year. Nassar said Sullivan declined several football scholarship offers to take an academic scholarship to Florida A&M. He said Sullivan will try to walk on to the team.

Leesburg Places 6 on OBC First Team

December 06, 1988

Six players from Leesburg High School's football team were selected to the All-Orange Belt Conference first team and five more were picked to the second team by conference coaches at the annual end-of-the-season meeting last week. Those selected to the first team were Ryan Taylor, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior offensive tackle; junior wide receiver Willie Dickens (5-11, 150), senior place-kicker Rick Rausch (5-11, 165); senior linebacker Brad Dunn (6-0, 200), senior defensive tackle Chris Sopotnik (5-11, 225); senior safety Tommy Willis (6-2, 170). Second team members are offensive guard Terry Rolle, quarterback Greg Engle, running back Undra Mitchem, outside linebacker Ray Pate and Brady Sellars as a utility defensive player. Honorable mention selections include Tony Sims as a utility offensive player and defensive lineman Bryant Reed.

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Rolle, Willis Sign Together To Play At Elizabeth City

February 22, 1989 | By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff

LEESBURG — Terry Rolle and Tommy Willis, longtime friends and teammates on the Leesburg High School football team, will remain teammates in collge.

Rolle and Willis signed Tuesday afternoon with Elizabeth City (N.C.) State University in a double signing ceremony conducted in the school's library. Present at the signing were several of their teammates as well as their mothers, Ida Rolle and Gloria Willis-Waters.

''I think it will be fun,'' Willis said. ''T-Rolle and I have known each other since we were little. Being 700 or 800 miles away from home, it's good knowing that I'll have a friend up there. We will be able to look out after each other.''

''It's a boost going off to college with Tommy,'' Rolle said. ''I don't have a problem making friends, but it is comforting to have a guy from the same place. We are going to be roommates for the next four years.''

Rolle (6-1, 280), is projected as a possible starter at offensive guard for Elizabeth City next season if he qualifies under Proposition 48. Rolle has to raise his SAT or ACT scores to qualify. Even if he doesn't, Rolle will remain at Elizabeth City and sit out next season.

Willis (6-1 160), will be looked at as a quarterback, although he only played two games at quarterback last season after starter Greg Engle was injured.

Willis was The Lake Sentinel's defensive player of the year.

Their signings bring the total of Leesburg players who will be playing in college to three. Ryan Taylor signed with the University of Florida on Feb. 8. Two other Leesburg players, Brad Dunn and Chris Sopotnick, plan on trying to make college teams as walk-ons.

Dunn is going to try-out for the University of Central Florida, and Sopotnick will try to make the Georgia Southern football team.

Willis and Rolle were being recruited by Florida A&M until assistant coach Walter Highsmith went to Texas Southern. Highsmith continued to recruit Willis until he decided to join Rolle at Elizabeth City.

''Tommy was really considering signing with Texas Southern, but at the last moment he decided to go to Elizabeth City,'' Leesburg Coach Richard Kennedy said.

Among the schools who showed interest in Rolle were A&M, Bethune-Cookman, the University of Mississippi and Florida State.

''They were telling me to go to a junior college and play for two years,'' Rolle said. ''But you don't know what could happen in those two years. I could get injured or something else.''

Willis went through the season as Leesburg's second-string quarterback and starting safety.

''He played defense for us because that is where he was needed,'' Kennedy said. ''I think Tommy will be very, very good. Tommy can play quarterback, it was just that we needed him at defensive back.''

By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
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Offensive coordinator Jonathan Cannon will take over head coaching duties in the interim

UAPB coach undergoing medical tests

Associated Press

PINE BLUFF, Ark. -- Arkansas-Pine Bluff coach Mo Forte has been advised by his doctors not to be on the sidelines for Saturday's game against Southern Illinois.

The university said in a news release Thursday that the coach has been undergoing medical tests for the last several days. The tests have not yet been completed.

Offensive coordinator Jonathan Cannon will take over head coaching duties in the interim, the university said. The news release did not identify Forte's symptoms or where he was getting medical evaluations, and a spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Forte, a former football player at the University of Minnesota, has no known history of any serious medical ailments. He has been at practice this week in good spirits.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Leesburg Nudges Bishop Moore, 9-7 Madden Boots 27-yard Field Goal In 4th Quarter To Clinch Victory

November 23, 1985

By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG — Steve Madden kicked a 27-yard field goal with 5:31 remaining Friday night to lift Leesburg High School to a 9-7 victory over Orlando Bishop Moore before a season-ending homecoming crowd of about 2,000 at Yellow Jacket Field.

Madden's field goal was his first of the season after four unsuccessful attempts and followed a badly missed extra-point attempt late in the third quarter. It also snapped Bishop Moore's winning streak at five games.

Fullback Jon Cannon, who played a key role in the drive before the field goal, broke loose on a 15-yard runto the 13. Then he added two runs of 4 yards each. The second 4-yard carry put Cannon over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

He finished the game with 70 yards on 15 carries to give him 1,004 yards.

Leesburg (4-6) cut Bishop Moore's lead to 7-6 late in the third quarter when Madden, a junior quarterback, threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Rod Wright. But Madden missed the extra point.

Bishop Moore (5-5) took a 7-0 lead with 50 seconds left in the first half when quarterback Mark Klein hit Matt Kalicak on two consecutive pass plays. The first one was a 36-yarder, which set up a 13-yard touchdown pass on the next play. Paul Castillo added the extra point.

Castillo had an opportunity to stretch the Hornets' lead to 10-0 early in the third quarter, but a 37-yard field-goal attempt was wide to the right.

''That was really nerve-wracking, especially after that extra point,'' Madden said. ''We had a problem when we lined up for the extra point, but I just flat made bad contact with the ball.

''But on the field goal, there was a good snap. John McGlohorn got the ball down, and I just concentrated on keeping my head down. I knew it was through as soon as I kicked it.''

Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Leesburg rebounds to win against rival Eustis

Eustis High School running back Marquis Curry (4) tackles Leesburg High running back Kamonte Phillips (5) in the first quarter of their game at Leesburg High School on Friday , Oct. 9, 2009.
published: Saturday, October 10, 2009



LEESBURG -- It was a game of adjustments at H.O. Dabney Stadium Friday in Leesburg.

In the end, Leesburg adjusted, and Eustis got worn out. The Yellow Jackets erupted with 29 second-half points on 35 offensive plays to best the Panthers 36-21.

It was a homecoming win for Leesburg, who improved to 4-2 on the year. Eustis fell to 1-4.

Good old-fashioned power running broke the game open for Leesburg. Single-wing runs mainly to the right -- with the odd misdirection thrown in for good measure -- consumed more than three quarters of the second half for the Yellow Jackets and tired out a Panther defense that held high- scoring Tavares to just six points the week before.

Leesburg Yellow Jackets' running back Jalen Dozier (10) scores a touchdown at the 5:11 mark in the second quarter to score his team's first points against the Eustis Panthers in a game at Leesburg High School on Friday , Oct. 9, 2009.

Leesburg's revelation was a reaction to what looked like a Eustis team on a mission. The Panthers had stuffed Leesburg on the Jackets' first two series, forcing two three-and-outs. Eustis meanwhile went up 13-0 on two quick touchdown drives led by senior Panther duo quarterback Kelsei Brown and running back CJ Brown.
It was junior running back Kendrick Rowe who scored the first point of the game with a 47-yard touchdown run less than four minutes into regulation. Kelsei Brown added his own long touchdown run of 21 yards.

Leesburg needed to switch or face a long night, said head coach Charles Nassar after the game.

"We came out sleep walking, and they came out like fire," Nassar said.

The Jackets shifted from a flex-bone option offense to a single-wing power run that proceeded to eat clock like Pacman eats power pellets.

A grinding 13-play, 71-yard drive took more than 6 minutes off the clock in the second quarter and gave Leesburg its first points.
Sophomore running back Jalen Dozier scored the first of his three touchdowns on the night on the drive.

Stalled drives by both sides made the halftime score 13-7 in favor of Eustis. Leesburg got the ball to begin the third quarter and refused to give it up. Two drives of 10 plays and one of 14 plays put Leesburg up 29-21.

Leesburg took the opening kickoff and drove 84 yards to go up 14-13. Their next drive was 69 yards and tied the game at 21. A successful onside kick let Leesburg roll down the field again, putting them up 29-21. The Yellow Jackets didn't look back.

Eustis did its best to keep up, scoring on a five-play, 70-yard drive late in the third. But that effort lasted only 2:32, putting an already-weary defense back on the field to stop a determined Jacket rushing attack.

"Defensively, we let ourselves down tonight," said Eustis coach Bill Larkin. "(Leesburg) went to a power offense" and wore the Panthers out, he said.

Penalties didn't help either. Eustis was flagged 11 times for 75 yards, include two big personal foul calls -- one that extended a Leesburg drive and the other starting the Jackets at midfield.

Leesburg's Dozier finished the night with 18 rushes for 105 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran in a two-point conversion. Yellow Jacket junior Luther McDowell had 66 yards on seven carries and two touchdowns, one of 44 yards. Junior Malcolm Belton had 70 yards on 17 carries.

For Eustis, Kelsei Brown had 75 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. He was 3 for 5 with 31 yards passing.



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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Leesburg Yellowjackets High School Football Team Preview - MaxPreps

Leesburg Yellowjackets High School Football Team Preview - MaxPreps

South Sumter outlasts Leesburg

South Sumter High School's Oscar Vera tackles Leesburg High's Malcolm Belton during a spring game at Leesburg on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

published: Friday, May 22, 2009


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The Leesburg Yellow Jackets hosted the South Sumter Raiders for a spring scrimmage game in what turned out to be a disappointing 27-13 loss.

"There were too many mistakes," said Leesburg Coach Charles Nassar. "I know it's a spring game and that's what spring is all about -- cleaning up mistakes. But there were too many."

One of Leesburg's biggest mistakes came on special teams as they muffed a punt which allowed the Raiders to recover in the end zone for a touchdown with eight minutes left in the second quarter.

That touchdown tied the game after Jalen Dozier carried the ball in for a Yellow Jacket touchdown with 4:37 left on the clock in the first. Ben Rizzo's extra point had given Leesburg the early lead.

"We learned some good things on special teams," said Nassar. "That's why we play Coach Sherman in the spring. He is all about doing things on special teams."

The Yellow Jackets also gained experience at moving the football, but found it difficult to push past the Raiders' defense to finish those drives.

"The strength of our team should be our defense," South Sumter coach Inman Sherman said. "We've got a lot of seniors there,"

That defense stopped Leesburg inside the 10-yard line twice in the first half. Then after an exchange of touchdowns, the Raiders' defense won them the game in the second half.

The start of a big third quarter came for the Raiders when Ryan Evans carried the ball in for a touchdown with just over nine minutes left in the third giving them the lead.

But Leesburg answered back when a 35-yard gain by Luther McDowell was aided by a roughing the passer penalty that put the Jackets in position to score on the 15-yard line. The next play Efrain Negron sprinted into the end zone with 8:50 left in the quarter. The Jackets missed the extra point allowing the Raiders to keep a one-point

Then South Sumter captured the momentum when Davey Vera recovered a fumbled exchange for a 45-yard touchdown return with less than five minutes left in the third. The Raider's missed extra point left them with a 20-13 lead.

South Sumter capped off their game-winning quarter when Ian Pappinheim completed a 58-yard pass to E.J. Hall for a touchdown as the buzzer sounded. With the extra point, the Raiders took a 14-point lead.

Despite that lead, it was the solid South Sumter defense that kept the Yellow Jackets from making a comeback

With just over seven minutes left in the fourth, Negron came up just short of the touchdown marker leaving the Jackets at first and goal on the one-yard line. After losing yards on the next play, Leesburg was unable to push in for a score. They turned the ball over on downs on the 4-yard line with 5:50 left on the clock. The score remained unchanged from that point on.

The game shaped both coaches goals for the summer. "We need to tighten up some things and work on ball control," said Nassar.

"Summer is huge," said Sherman. "We have to have a big summer. The mistakes we made are all fixable."


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Leesburg chalks up almost 300 yards on ground to beat South Lake

published: Saturday, September 19, 2009


Staff Writer

LEESBURG -- As a coach, Charles Nassar always looks for a perfect game from the Leesburg High School football team.
He nearly got it Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets rushed for nearly 300 yards, including 130 by quarterback Efrain Negron, to earn a 21-7 victory against South Lake at H.O. Dabney Stadium.

"This was the closest we've come to a perfect game this season, including our preseason games," Nassar said. "We committed a couple of turnovers and had a few penalties, but we did of things right (Friday). We have some execution issues to clean, like the exchange between our quarterback and running backs, this was a very good performance by our kids."

Leesburg (2-1) took a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter on a six-yard run by Malcolm Belton, and added to its advantage when Jalen Dozier capped a three play, 33-yard drive with a 10-yard run following a South Lake fumble.

Dozier took an inside handoff off a direct snap to running back Luther McDowell and outraced the Eagles defense to the end zone.

The Yellow Jackets gained 146 yards in the first half, all of which came on the ground. For Nassar, an advocate of the option, Leesburg's success on the ground was a highlight.

In the second half, the Yellow Jackets did not attempt a pass.

"Last week (against Mount Dora), D'Mauri Jones, our best receiver, was banged up but he was healthy for this game," Nassar said. "He was healthy for this game, but South Lake did a good job defending him, so we stayed on the ground and had of lot of success. Our running game was working, so why change?"

South Lake (0-3) was its own worst enemy at times, particularly in the second half. The Eagles fumbled on their first possession in the third quarter, their second of the game, and were whistled for two equipment violations on defense -- the first of which occurred on a fourth-and-four, giving the Yellow Jackets a first down.

Even though Leesburg eventually punted the ball away, South Lake watch the game clock become its enemy, as the Yellow Jackets took two additional minutes off the clock.

"We're continuing to beat ourselves with silly mistakes," South Lake coach Walter Banks said. "It's like giving yourself a self-inflicted wound. We digging ourselves into a hole that we can't get out of and it's really frustrating.

"Our kids are leaving everything on the field, in terms of effort and desire, but we have to find a way to cut out the mistakes."

South Lake's lone offensive highlight came in the third quarter when quarterback Stanley Evans hit Nick Wiasome in stride and the junior wide receiver outraced Leesburg's secondary to the end zone on a 69-yard score. For the game, Evans completed four of eight passes for 127 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Evans also rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries.

South Lake's ground attack was led by Steel Stewart, who picked up 67 yards on 10 carries.

In addition to Negron, Leesburg's running attack included Dozier (74-yards rushing), McDowell (59), Belton (20), James Asibey-Bonsu (10) and Kamonte Philips (2).

For South Lake, the road doesn't get any easier Friday, when perennial Class 6A powerhouse Apopka makes its first-ever trip to Groveland, while Leesburg opens district play against Citrus in Inverness.

"For us, the real season starts next week," Nassar said. "District games are the ones that count. We're going to spend next week trying to get better, like we do every week. This win was nice, but the important games on our schedule begin (Friday)."

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Leesburg squeezes Citrus

published: Friday, September 25, 2009


Staff Writer

INVERNESS -- Quarterback Efrain Negron scored three touchdowns Friday to lead a resurgent offense as visiting Leesburg outscored Inverness-Citrus, 34-7, to improve to 2-1 on the new season.

The Yellow Jackets offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage to enable running back Luther McDowell and the rest of the backfield to compile 265 rushing yards on the night.

Negron scored twice in the first half, on runs of 27 and 65 yards and had a 42-yard touchdown reception from McDowell called back on an illegal motion penalty.

Leesburg held the Hurricanes to just 12 rushing yards in the first half and limited Citrus to just two big plays for the evening. On one, a 42-yard pass from quarterback J.J. White to wideout Hayden Kelly, the Canes advanced to midfield. But two plays later, they fumbled and Ryan Rivera recovered to end the drive.

As the first half came to an end, Leesburg's Ben Rizzo attempted a 37-yard field goal which hit the crossbar and bounced back onto the field and the Yellow Jackets went into the locker room with a 14-0 advantage.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, Citrus attempted an onside kick, but the Leesburg front five pounced and recovered on their own 48-yard-line. Eight plays later, Negron ran in from the 1 to open a 21-point lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Jackets again recovered a fumble. Five plays later, Jalen Dozier ran it in from the eight to put the game away.

Citrus managed its only score of the night with a march down the length of the field. With 15 seconds remaining, they fumbled. But the Jackets fumbled right back, giving White the opportunity for find A.J. Woythaler in the back of the end zone from four yards out.

Leesburg (3-1) hosts Brooksville Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.


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Strong second half carries Nature Coast past Leesburg

C.J. Risak Staff writer

LEESBURG - Blame it on the time of year. After all, it is October and Halloween season.
Or how about that full moon?

However one wishes to describe it, there certainly was a Jekyll-and-Hyde act on display at Friday's Brooksville Nature Coast-Leesburg game. And it was Nature Coast that took better advantage of it.

After a lackluster first half, the Sharks turned it on quickly in the second to knock off the Yellow Jackets 23-18.

Tevin Drake proved to be the ultimate difference for Nature Coast. Limited to 32 yards on seven carries in the first half, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior sliced through the Leesburg defense for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the second, totalling 192 yards rushing on 24 attempts.

"We just looked horrible in the first half," said Nature Coast coach Mark Lee. "I don't know what it is. We just challenged them (at halftime), and they played the way in the second half the way they should have been playing all game."

First half: Nature Coast totaled 34 yards in offense and trailed 6-0, losing a fumble and having a punt blocked. Second half: The Sharks gained 209 yards, scored three touchdowns and added a field goal.

For Leesburg, the game could easily be described as missed opportunities.

"They're good," Yellow Jackets' coach Charles Nassar said of Nature Coast. "You can't leave all the points on the field we left in the first half. We didn't expect that lead to stand up."

Still, it was Leesburg that struck first when Trey McKinney got through the line and blocked Nature Coast's Richard Hart's punt attempt, recovering it and taking it in for the score. The extra point was blocked, but the Jackets were up 6-0.

It remained that way until the Sharks attitude adjustment at halftime, Hyde substituting for Jekyll (or vice versa). On Leesburg's second play of the the second half, Luther McDowell fumbled on the exchange with quarterback Efrain Negron and Nature Coast recovered. It took the Sharks three plays to travel the 21 yards, Drake going the final eight for the score and a 7-6 lead.

They followed that with a 19-yard field goal by Tyler Callaghan to increase their lead to 10-6 and, after a Leesburg three-and-out, the Sharks constructed a 12-play, 77-yard drive culminated by a 10-yard scoring pass from C.J. Baker to Anthony Carlucci.

That made it 16-6 early in the fourth. Leesburg, which failed to get a second-half first down until nearly the midpoint of the fourth quarter, got two late TDs from Jalen Dozier, one on a 24-yard sweep and another on an 11-yard scramble.

"We didn't block anybody," Nassar said. "Finally in the fourth quarter we got some blocks."

But it was too late. Dozier's second score came after Drake put the game away for the Sharks with a 44-yard cutback score that made it 23-12. Dozier's final TD came with just 19.8 seconds to go.

The game had major implications in District 3A-6. Nature Coast, the pre-season favorite, is 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the district. Leesburg is 3-2 overall, 1-1 in the district.

C.J. Risak Staff writer
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Lofton's impact went beyond the field

This article appeared in the Orlando Sentinel on Jan. 14, 2004.

Former Leesburg football coach Wilbur Lofton loved the retirement home he and his wife, Ethel, built in 1996 in the small town of Reliance, Tenn. To Lofton, fishing in the pond on his property was like heaven on earth.
"He loved his home here," Ethel Lofton said. "Reliance is just a little community, up in the mountains. There are no businesses, no stoplights. The only reason it is a town is because it had a post office, which it doesn't even have any more. We bought the land here in 1987 and for the next 10 years we came up here, camping and working on the land.

"It was like a jungle, but we cleared it, we built a pond and the house. He loved it up here."

Wilbur Lofton, 68, perhaps the most successful football coach Leesburg High School has ever had, died at his home Dec. 21 after a yearlong battle with colon cancer.
"There are a lot of people who know the Xs and Os," said Buford Robinson, Leesburg's former principal, who gave a young Lofton his first head coaching job in 1966. "But he had a special relationship with the players. He knew how to motivate the players."

Lofton's most successful year at Leesburg came in 1969 when he led the Yellow Jackets to what was then the Class A state championship game in Tampa Stadium where they lost to Tampa Blake 27-6. Leesburg also made it into the state playoffs under Lofton in 1971. In 1980, he led Tarpon Springs to the state playoffs.

His 36 years of coaching also included stops as head coach at Tifton (Ga.) High School, three years at Hudson High School and 13 years at New Port Richey Gulf. His first coaching job came at the University or Georgia in 1960, where he worked with the freshman team. That team included future Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton.

Back in his years at Leesburg, Lofton had more to worry about overcoming than opposing teams.
It was the late 1960s, and while many schools and teams were dealing with racial unrest, Lofton wouldn't have any of that on his football field when students and athletes at Carver High School, the black school in Leesburg, blended with Leesburg's white student body.

"He brought us together, taught us to love one another, to respect one another," said Mike Napier, the senior quarterback on the '69 team. "Everybody in Leesburg was excited about our football team, black and white. There were no racial problems."

Kenny Mitchem, a senior slotback and strong safety for the state finalists, said the movie Remember the Titans, which was about a Virginia high school football team and how it dealt with integration, reminded him of how Lofton handled the situation.

"We were fully integrated that year [1969-70]," Mitchem said "The first thing Coach Lofton did was he pulled us to one side. And he pulled the black players to one side. He told us, we were going to be a team and we, as football players, were going to be the leaders of our school.

"He treated everyone equally."

Leesburg went 9-1 through the regular season in '69, losing only to Lake City. It then beat Auburndale 12-0 and Belle Glades 36-23 to reach the state title game.

But the run towards the state runner-up berth did not happen in just one season. Lofton's ability to motivate players helped build the Yellow Jackets football program from the day he became head coach.

"The first thing he did was call all the males into the auditorium and he asked everyone to stand up who was playing football. Twenty-three guys stood up," Napier said. "Then Coach Lofton challenged us to take pride in our school, in what we do, to be champions, to be winners. Anyway, we ended up with 40-some-odd guys out on the team.

"He was a great teacher, a great motivator."

Napier, who eulogized Lofton during the funeral service, remembers Lofton as a disciplinarian who stressed fundamentals but loved his players.

"I said, the Lord God knew Wilbur Lofton as Coach Wilbur Lofton," Napier said. "He touched thousands and thousands of lives. Green Bay had [Vince] Lombardi. Miami had [Don] Shula. We had Wilbur Lofton. He was the one who motivated us and challenged us and made us men."

Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
Orlando Sentinel

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Leesburg's Lawrence Now A Bearcat

February 09, 1993

By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG — There were no signs Monday afternoon that Ty Lawrence had signed a national letter-of-intent over the weekend to play football at Southwest Baptist University, an NCAA Division II school in Bolivar, Mo.

Even the shirt he wore to Leesburg High School's baseball practice didn't give it away. Instead of a Southwest Baptist shirt, of which he now has two, he wore a commemorative shirt from the FSU-Miami game played in the fall of 1991 in Tallahassee.

But make no mistake, Lawrence now is a Bearcat.

''I don't know what one is, but I'm a Bearcat,'' Lawrence said with a smile during a break in practice.

Lawrence, who was The Lake Sentinel's defensive player of the year for the past two years as a linebacker, visited the Southwest Baptist campus last weekend along with three other Yellow Jackets. Leesburg quarterback Steve Gooden also signed with the Bearcats, but his parents, who weren't on the trip, still have to sign to make him an official Bearcat, as well.

Gooden and his family could not be reached Monday afternoon to confirm if they had signed.

Leesburg defensive back David Geiger and running back Oran Singleton, whose brilliant high school career was ended with a knee injury in December, also made the trip.

Southwest Baptist was just one of about 20 colleges Lawrence has visited since last summer. Although the NCAA allows only five official visits, of which Lawrence took three, he and his father traveled through North and South Carolina and Georgia last summer, just taking looks at numerous schools.

''Southwest was one of the nicest I have seen,'' Lawrence said. ''I liked the atmosphere and I liked the coaches.''

Many thought Lawrence had signed with the University of Central Florida last Thursday, but that was only a rumor. Lawrence said he did talk Thursday to UCF, which offered him a partial grant, but told the Knights' coaches he still wanted to visit Southwest, which held open grants-in-aid for him and Gooden.

''UCF offered some tuition and books, Southwest was offering me a full ride,'' said Lawrence, 6 feet 2, 230 pounds, who will probably play defensive end or tackle for the Bearcats. ''I liked it up there so I signed with them.

''Plus, I think I have a better chance to start out there sooner. If I went to UCF, I may not start for two or three years.''

Leesburg coach Ed Hoffman, who contacted Southwest Baptist and sent video tapes, was happy to hear of Lawrence's signing.

''I think he will be given a good, fair shake at playing there, rather than him going to some other schools where he might not get a chance to play,'' Hoffman said. ''They say they like his strength and his size.

''The disadvantage with Ty is that you don't see him on the tape playing where he will probably play in college. We used him at center and linebacker but in college he will probably be a defensive lineman.''

Southwest Baptist, after going 7-4 in 1991, suffered through an injury-filled season and finished 2-8 last fall. But the Bearcats play what amounts to a pretty tough Division 2 schedule. Regulars on the schedule include Pittsburgh State, the NCAA Division 2 champs in 1991.

''Ty had four or five viable offers to go to school,'' said Marcus Lawrence, Ty's father. ''UCF called and offered him a partial scholarship, books and tuition. Had they offered him a half scholarship, that is where he would have gone.

''But this (Southwest Baptist) is the school that offered him the most academically and athletically. A full scholarship for a Division II school is pretty good.''

Now signed, Lawrence, who has a 3.4-grade-point-average, now has a little research to do to find out exactly what is a bearcat.


Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
Orlando Sentinel

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Eustis' Gamble Fails, Leesburg Holds On, 7-6

September 28, 1985

By Tim Wilson, Sentinel Correspondent
LEESBURG — Senior fullback Jon Cannon rushed for 105 yards, including a game-tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter Friday night, as Leesburg High School edged rival Eustis, 7-6.

Cannon's touchdown was the first allowed by Eustis this season, and the Panthers made a run at offsetting it in the final seconds, but a 25-yard field goal attempt by Kris Haupt was short.

''Jon is just a great runner,'' Leesburg Coach Gene Foster said. ''It feels good to get this first win.''

The teams did little more than exchange punts in three scoreless quarters before Eustis (1-2) put together a 60-yard drive with 11:29 to play. Junior fullback C.J. Thompson, who picked up every yard in the drive on five carries, got the touchdown on an 8-yard run. But Eustis faked a kick on the conversion and fumbled, leaving the Panthers with a 6-0 lead.

The Panthers then tried an onsides kick, but Leesburg (1-2) gained possession with it came good field position -- at the Yellow Jackets' 45-yard line.

They drove to the Eustis 1-yard line, and Cannon burst into the end zone to tie the score with 7:55 left. Jody Phillips then won it with a conversion kick.

Cannon's score was the first touchdown allowed by the Panthers' defense this season.

Eustis' attempt at victory began with 3 minutes to go, when Robbie Terrell recovered a Yellow Jackets fumble on the Leesburg 40. The Panthers moved the ball to the Leesburg 15, but a 25-yard, field-goal attempt by was short as time ran out.
''I wasn't surprised when they the Panthers gambled on the onsides kick, but it gave us good field position -- luckily,'' Foster said.

Eustis Coach Steve Brown was not available for comment after the game.

Terrell rushed for 70 yards on eight carries, and junior quarterback Earl Young was 3-for-13 with 20 yards passing and had 20 yards rushing.

Leesburg junior quarterback Steve Madden completed 5 of 15 passes for 35 yards and rushed 60 yards for the Yellow Jackets.

Kevin Brown had 15 yards rushing and caught two passes for 22 yards to help Leesburg's effort.

plays Class AAA rival week. Eustis travels to Groveland.

Tim Wilson, Sentinel Correspondent
Orlando Sentinel

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Yellow Jackets 'Voice' Strong After 30 Years

September 20, 1994

By Bill Bond of The Sentinel Staff
Jack Wilson, the voice of the Leesburg High School Yellow Jackets for the past three decades, has been honored for public service by his friends and community.
Before the football game between the visiting Eustis Panthers and the Yellow Jackets a couple of weeks ago, Wilson received a plaque in appreciation of 30 years of broadcasting.

Leesburg Mayor David Connelly read a city proclamation noting Sept. 2 as Jack Wilson Appreciation Day, and the press box was named after him.

Schools Superintendent Tom Sanders and former LHS principal Ellis Wiley were on hand to praise the veteran sports broadcaster for his many contributions to the community, especially to the school athletic program. Wilson was part of a six-member group that raised money to build the stadium.

They were dubbed the Silly Six by skeptics who said they were taking on an impossible task.

Shows you how much the skeptics know.

In addition to Wilson, the other members of the group recognized are Wilson's fellow broadcaster, Jack Mitchell, Ray Richardson, John McCloud, Don Napier and Joe Bailey.

''It was all a surprise to me. I didn't have the slightest idea they were going to do any of this. I know it was a very emotional moment for me and my family. It was quite an honor,'' said Wilson.

''I think John McCloud 'engineered' this,'' quipped Wilson.

Wilson began broadcasting Yellow Jackets games on WLBE-AM (790) in the mid-1960s.

This year, the broadcast team of Wilson and color commentary sidekick Mitchell moved to WQBQ-AM (1410) to do the Yellow Jackets games.

Wilson, uh, um, credits then-WLBE station owner Jim Sharp with giving him his break in broadcasting.

''Jim Sharp conned me into broadcasting, with Chuck Grant who came along as engineer. Sharp told me not to worry, he would be there that first game to help me. One minute Jim was there and the next he was gone,'' said Wilson.

''I was over-modulating a lot in those early days. . . . I was eating the microphone.''

Since that first broadcast, Wilson figures he has averaged 100 broadcasts a year, including election night coverage from the courthouse, football, baseball and basketball games, and the popular Wednesday night Coaches' Corner show featuring interviews with coaches and players.

Coaches' Corner is on from 8 to 9 p.m. on WQBQ every Wednesday from Damon's The Place For Ribs Clubhouse on U.S. Highway 441.

As far as Wilson is concerned, Mitchell, his on-air sidekick, is ''Mr. Reliable.''

''I have had different guys helping me, but Jack Mitchell has been the most dependable. He's always been there,'' Wilson said.
Wilson is a former Leesburg city commissioner and mayor who cuts hair for a living at a downtown barbershop. Mitchell is a veteran loan officer with Citizens National Bank.

One of Wilson's most memorable nights at a game came in Ocala 26 years ago. Leesburg was playing Ocala Vanguard in Booster Stadium when a bomb was discovered under the stands.

''There was 6:28 to go in the first half . . . and somebody found a bomb under the grandstand,'' Wilson said. ''Yes, it was a real bomb and they arrested four guys for that.''

The stadium was cleared and the game postponed. A bomb disposal team was sent down from Jacksonville Naval Air Station to disarm the bomb.

''We went back the next night to finish the game,'' Wilson said.

He also remembers another game in 1968 when Chuck Grant was doing the color commentary.

''We were leading 6-0 and quarterback Mike Napier made a big gain on a quarterback sneak,'' recalled Wilson. ''I yelled out, 'Jesus Christ, look at that boy run!' Chuck slapped me on the arm and said, 'We're on the air!' ''

Any plans to retire soon from broadcasting?

''I keep saying I'm getting too old to climb the stadium steps to the press box. But all it takes is one kid to ask me to broadcast just one more game,'' said the proud voice of the Leesburg Yellow Jackets.

Bill Bond of The Sentinel Staff
Orlando Sentinel

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Playing Is a Full-Time Job When You Play For Coach Randy Trivers

Despite his staggering numbers both on the field and in the classroom, Northwest quarterback Josh Volpe is having difficulty finding a collegiate program that wants him. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)

Playing Is a Full-Time Job

As a High School Quarterback, Northwest's Volpe Spends About 40 Hours a Week Working on His Game
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 17, 2006

Josh Volpe has heard legends about the perks of his position, but he's never had time to experience them. He's a record-setting senior quarterback for the undefeated football team at Northwest High School, and he calls his social life "almost nonexistent." He's never had a steady girlfriend. He avoids parties. Volpe turns 18 next month, and he has yet to obtain his driver's license.

Volpe grew up believing the pop culture myth that playing quarterback facilitates the perfect adolescent social life. More often, he said, it actually inhibits one. Volpe spends about 40 hours each week under the direction of his football coach, usually practicing, playing or studying opponents. He tries to go out with friends one night each week, often after his games Friday nights. Even then, Volpe typically goes home early, since he has to report to practice Saturday morning at 7.

His career has been indicative of a new reality in high school football: Most quarterbacks who aspire to lead a team to the playoffs must manage a professionalized athletic schedule no longer reserved just for top prospects on renowned high school teams. Volpe's average speed and unimposing physique have deterred recruiters, but he has compiled one of the most remarkable statistical seasons in Maryland history because he bought into what he calls the No. 1 rule of playing quarterback.

"Work at it all year, all the time," said Volpe, who has thrown for 29 touchdowns and no interceptions for No. 4 Northwest, which hosts Gaithersburg in the first round of the playoffs tonight. "The season is pretty much continuous work. It's not like you can be carefree. You're under more pressure than anybody else."
On Thursday last week, while most Northwest students congregated in a noisy cafeteria, Volpe brought two sandwiches, a Powerade and a Twix bar into a classroom on Northwest's second floor. He settled into a desk in the center of the front row and readied for what some of his teammates call Football Class. Coach Randy Trivers walked to the front of the room and pulled down a film screen, which showed recent game footage of Northwest's final regular season opponent, Richard Montgomery. When Trivers dimmed the lights, Volpe sat up in his desk and bit into his Twix. "The sugar keeps me awake," he said.

Volpe had arrived at school at 6:55 a.m., as Trivers requires every morning, so he could spend 30 minutes studying game strategies before first period. Then he had attended three classes in the morning before arriving here, at the varsity team's daily sequestered lunch. The rest of Volpe's day called for three more classes, followed by a mandatory, one-hour study hall for football players, followed by a three-hour practice, followed by a 30-minute meeting for quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.

During the football team's 50-minute lunch, one of Volpe's teammates launched a Milk Dud across the room that hit Volpe in the head. He hardly noticed. Even Volpe's teammates sometimes tease him for his focus and single-mindedness. In the two seasons he has started for Northwest, Volpe has never missed a football commitment. On game days, he cradles a ball in his right arm during school. He made his bedroom a shrine to the Dallas Cowboys, from the deep blue carpet to the wallpaper to the comforter and bed sheets. "If you want to be a good quarterback," Volpe said, "you really have to love thinking about football."

It's a mind-set many of his peers consider mandatory. Dunbar's Nathan Bussey practices with his team until about 6 p.m., and then goes straight to workouts with a personal trainer designed to improve his grip and arm strength. River Hill's Daniel Hostetler runs through plays in his living room to keep them fresh in his memory, and he sometimes finds himself dreaming about them.

"You can't even go out during the season 'cause you're so stressed and tired," said Paul VI Catholic's D.J. Mangas, who said he felt a little relieved when his private school season ended two weeks ago. "I tried a few times, but I just wanted to sleep."

Volpe's coaches call him a throwback because of his uncomplicated, boylike devotion to the sport. Extensive weight lifting has made his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame appear almost stocky, especially in uniform. Famously impossible to fluster on the field, Volpe sometimes jams his hands deep in his pockets and blushes when girls approach him. His parents never gave him a curfew, because they can't imagine him needing one.
"Football keeps him in check," said Jim Volpe, his father. "We know he's not going to do anything stupid, because he cares too much about playing."

Even though he takes three Advanced Placement classes and his unweighted, 3.71 grade-point average could earn him admission to most colleges, Volpe has limited his list of possibilities to schools where he could continue to play quarterback. He dreams of walking on at Towson, but he would settle for a Division III school. "I'll go any place that has uniforms," he said.

At Northwest, Volpe found a football program to match his dedication. Trivers spent two years as a graduate assistant for Maryland before he applied to become the first football coach at Northwest, which opened in 1998. He vowed to model his team after elite college programs. His players lift weights four times and run five times each week during the offseason. Each varsity player must sit in the front row of every class.

An English teacher, Trivers breaks down film until 1 a.m., scripts the first eight plays of each game, laminates his team's stat sheets and monitors weekly grade reports for more than 60 players -- all for a coaching stipend of about $5,000.

"If you don't commit 100 percent, you can't be successful in high school football anymore," Trivers said. "It's like running a college team, but on a smaller scale."

Trivers, 33, led his team to a state championship in 2004 largely because he refuses to tolerate even the most menial distractions. During a team lunch last week, a few players told Trivers they had not received their report cards because they had unpaid fines or outstanding library books. The coach shook his head and pounded his hand on his desk.

"I'm telling you right now, I'm not dealing with this crap next week," Trivers said. "Get this taken care of. Now. Next week is the playoffs. It's straight football. I'm telling you jackasses, if you don't get this taken care of, your practice Monday will be three hours of straight-up, physical torture. We will run you until you physically cannot move anything in your body, with the possible exception of breathing."

Northwest players respect -- and sometimes adore -- Trivers because his relentlessness makes them better players. Volpe transferred to Northwest from Washington Christian Academy after his freshman year because he wanted to play big-time high school football. He ran the 40-yard dash in an excruciating 5.4 seconds. "They called me bucket feet," Volpe said, "because I couldn't even run right."

Trivers told Volpe to run track, and the quarterback gradually improved his 40 time to 4.7 seconds. Volpe lifted weights to improve the distance and speed of his throws. He met with receivers to play catch twice each week, even in February. "I just had to learn that Northwest football is a year-round game," Volpe said.

What resulted is an eerily flawless senior season. Despite throwing as many as 30 times each game, Volpe has yet to throw an interception. His 29 scoring passes are believed to be a Montgomery County regular season record -- the old mark of 25 was set by Einstein's Rick Eisenacher in 1966 and tied by Sherwood's Deontay Twyman last fall.

On the field, Volpe rarely scrambles. He stands in the pocket until the last possible second, unafraid of suffering a big hit. Volpe dislocated a finger on his throwing hand in a preseason practice, and he walked to the bench and asked Trivers to pop the finger back into its socket. Trivers refused, instead sending Volpe to the hospital. "His whole finger was basically hanging off," Trivers said. "Some of my guys would have milked that for at least a week off."

Volpe returned from the hospital and rejoined practice in an hour.

Acumen is his greatest asset. He takes AP Statistics, Literature and Composition, and Honors History of the Modern World. And since he arrived at Northwest, he's mastered an offensive strategy that includes possibilities for more than 1,000 plays and requires fluency in a complicated language.

For example, if Trivers calls for "Gun Spreads Tight Flip 190 Special H Leak Out of Jaguar," Volpe knows, instantaneously: He lines up in shotgun; two receivers stand on each side of the offensive line; the slot receiver, who will drag across the middle of the field, should come open about four seconds after the snap.
"It has be to total instinct," Volpe said. "You have to tune out all of the pressures and distractions."

Before his final game of the regular season, at the center of this whirlwind, Volpe found it easiest to retreat. He sat on a bench in the locker room, bouncing his knees up and down, and stared at the wall in front of him. "I just go into my own zone," he said. And it lasted through four touchdown passes in Northwest's 53-7 win.

After the game, Trivers gathered his players around him. Volpe knelt at the front of the huddle, his eyes fixed intently on his coach.

"Undefeated. Ten wins, no losses. That's one hell of an accomplishment," Trivers said. "Enjoy it, but also know this: This success alone is unfulfilling. The work doesn't stop now, men. The work never stops. And for the next month, we just work harder and harder."


Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In High School Football, Coaching's a Love of Labor

By Josh Barr

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It was nearing 4 p.m. on a recent Friday, and it did not take long for Dave Mencarini to think about where he might have been if not for his "part-time" job.

"I'd either be on the golf course or happy hour," he said. "Or maybe at my kids' swim lessons."

Instead Mencarini -- preparing for his fourth season as the football coach at Quince Orchard High -- was trying to reconfigure that afternoon's schedule for the 80 teenagers who had come to the Gaithersburg school for a voluntary workout. Instead of running the steps in the stadium bleachers, a plan was needed to keep the players inside as the sky darkened and a thunderstorm threatened.

Across the region, preparations for the high school football season are underway; some teams in Virginia began practice last week, the DCIAA begins Thursday, and Maryland public schools start Aug. 15. For the coaches of most of those teams, the season never really ended.

High school football coaches have seen their list of duties -- and the time needed to complete each one -- multiply in recent years. Unofficially, they are equipment managers and recruiting coordinators, facility managers and strength and conditioning coaches.

"These aren't titles that people give me," Mencarini said. "This is just what I do. No one tells me to do it. It's what I've learned in my experience. It's not required, but it's necessary if you want to run a quality program."

High school coaches push themselves the way college or professional coaches do. The main difference? While coaching is a full-time job for Maryland's Ralph Friedgen or the Redskins' Joe Gibbs and their staffs, high school coaches get a stipend of a few thousand dollars. Montgomery County, for example, last season paid its head coaches $5,712, among the most in the area.

Out-of-season work generally goes uncompensated; most coaches are content if they get reimbursed for any materials they purchase for the players' benefit, such as videotapes and compact discs to send highlights to college coaches or gas money to take players to out-of-town combines or college visits.

Some districts in football-obsessed parts of the country pay a full-time salary for high school football coaches, but those same positions in the Washington area in most places are held by teachers pulling double duty. It is a concept that took time to sink in for Robinson Principal Danny Meier, who coached West Potomac and Chantilly to Virginia AAA championships before becoming an administrator.

"I'm tired of doing two jobs for the price of one," Meier recalled a former high school coach telling him before that coach embarked on a college career. "It took me many years to figure that out. Basically, you're putting in two eight-hour days."

The latest local coach to make such a move was Randy Trivers, who coached at Northwest the past nine seasons before being hired this summer as the running backs coach at Syracuse University. Trivers said it was a myth among other coaches that he often slept a few hours on a sofa at school, then showered the next morning and headed to his classroom. He acknowledged, however, a few nights spent at the Germantown school.

"There was a couch in the P.E. office, and there was a chair in my office I made as comfortable as I could make it," Trivers said.

How dedicated was Trivers? His few vacations were planned around the offseason football schedule.

"It's a year-round deal if you want to be consistently competitive," Trivers said. "To be competitive year in and year out, it's imperative a coach be committed to it 12 months a year. I felt guilty almost ever taking a vacation. If I was asking them to be committed to their training, I wanted to show them I was committed too."

"Coaches put in so much time during the season, and it's because they want to. That really hasn't changed," said Broadneck's Jeff Herrick, entering his 31st year coaching sports in Anne Arundel County. "It's the preseason, postseason and offseason that has changed a lot."

The postseason has gotten longer, with playoff growth in Maryland and Virginia including more teams and extending the season. Then there is the offseason, which has swelled to include seven-on-seven passing leagues and tournaments, individual combines to measure athletes' strength and speed and the never-ending process of college recruiting.

"It's a monster," Herrick said.

Unlike other sports, football remains a school-based team. Although personal training has blossomed, there are few individual coaches and no offseason travel or club teams. It remains up to the high school coach to organize the winter, spring and summer activities -- often at the expense of their personal lives.

Sometimes coaches tend to pay attention to their programs at the expense of their health, though they often don't want to acknowledge this publicly. It might even hit their bank account. Mencarini said before his first season as a head coach, he charged a $5,000 computer system to his personal credit card so he could better analyze videos of his team's games.
For all of the work and long hours, stepping back on the field for the start of a new season often makes it seem worthwhile even as many veteran coaches question their motivation.

"You really enjoy the time off and you say, 'Oh, how am I ever going to do this again?' " said Bill McGregor, who will begin his 26th season as DeMatha's head coach with a practice tomorrow morning. "And then you get out there, and it's what you know, and you feel really comfortable. You're really glad you're doing this. You could be in an office somewhere."


Josh Barr

Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Eustis tops Leesburg

September 23, 2006

By Joe Williams, Sentinel Staff Writer
SUMMARY: Eustis QB Courtney Keith threw for three second-half touchdowns to lead the Panthers back from a 7-0 deficit to defeat Leesburg 21-14 Friday night in a Lake County rivalry at Memorial Field/H.O. Dabney Stadium.

STARS: Eustis RBs Brandon Evans and Anthony Murphy comibined for 191 yards rushing.

KEY STAT: Keith completed only four passes but three were for touchdowns, one to Murphy and two to Kenny Dale

TURNING POINT: Eustis solved Leesburg's defensive dominance in the second half after being shut out in the first two quarters. The Panthers started having success pounding the ball up the middle with Evans.

EXTRA POINTS: This is the second week in a row that Eustis has beaten an undefeated team. Last week, Harrnony was 3-0.

By Joe Williams, Sentinel Staff Writer
Orlando Sentinel

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Rutgers football adds Robb Smith and Randy Trivers to coaching staff


Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 1:34 PM Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 5:31 PM

Tom Luicci/The Star-Ledger

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has finalized his coaching staff with two hires just in time for the start of spring football practice Tuesday -- doing so with an unexpected twist.
Chris Rippon is out as the special teams coordinator, with former Maine defensive coordinator Robb Smith replacing him. Smith, who spent the past seven years at Maine -- the last three as defensive coordinator -- will also coach outside linebackers.

In addition, Randy Trivers, who served as running backs coach at Syracuse the past two seasons, will have the same job with the Scarlet Knights, replacing Gary Brown.

Brown left after one season at Rutgers to become running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns.

According to a release issued by Rutgers, Rippon left to pursue other opportunities after spending just one year with the Scarlet Knights.

The changes mark the second straight year that the Rutgers coaching staff has undergone a major upheaval, with Schiano hiring five new assistants last year.

In addition to bringing Smith and Trivers aboard, Schiano recently promoted Kirk Ciarrocca and Kyle Flood to co-offensive coordinators, replacing John McNulty.

McNulty left to become the wide receivers coach for the Arizona Cardinals.

Schiano also stepped down this winter as defensive coordinator, a position he has held since 2005. He promoted assistants Ed Pinkham and Bob Fraser by naming them co-defensive cordinators.

Trivers was the head coach at Northwest High School in Germantown, Md., prior to joining the Syracuse staff, compiling a 73-27 record. He coached current Rutgers safety Joe Lefeged at Northwest High.

Tom Luicci/The Star-Ledger

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Eustis Kicker Battles On After Injury

Lake Sports - Monday Morning Quarterback

September 03, 2001

By Joe Williams, Sentinel Staff Writer

Lost among all the hoopla of the season-opening game between longtime rivals Leesburg and Eustis Friday night was that two of the better kickers in Lake and Sumter counties may have been on the field in Eustis' David Schmidt and Leesburg's Stephen Malinda.

Although the game never came close to coming down to a kicker -- Leesburg was the winner 48-20 -- it would have been interesting if it had.

Schmidt showed resilience, bouncing back from what seemed like a serious injury to his left knee in the second quarter to kick an extra point after Eustis' lone touchdown in the second half. It was late in the fourth quarter.

In the second period, Schmidt had to be helped off the field when he took a hit to the inside of his left knee while playing in the Panthers' secondary and making a tackle.


Eustis managed to nullify the punt returning abilities of Leesburg's Jermaine Orr through much of the game Friday night by kicking away from him most the night. But on the first play of the fourth quarter, Orr finally got a chance to field a punt. He caught it on the left side of the field, sprinted to his right, got the corner and was gone untouched for 66 yards and a touchdown.

It is the fifth time in the past 12 games -- 11 last year -- that Orr has returned a punt for a touchdown.


Joe Williams, Sentinel Staff Writer
Orlando Sentinel

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

LHS wins war of the wasps



published: Saturday, September 05, 2009
LEESBURG -- The Leesburg Yellow Jackets' only field goal in their second-half battle with the Bishop Moore Hornets came just secondbefore the final whistle sounded. Luckily, that kick by Ben Rizzo with 1:10 left in the game was enough to give the Yellow Jackets a 35-34 win over the Orlando prep powerhouse.

Leesburg's kicker stepped up to the occasion after some missteps earlier in the game. One of Rizzo's four PAT attempts was blocked when a porous line let a Hornet defenseman through the middle to bat away the try. Rizzo's final attempt -- after a Leesburg hook-and- lateral touchdown to close the first half -- was not touched but fell well short of the uprights.

Yellow Jackets head coach Charles Nassar said he was confident when he sent Rizzo in with the game on the line.

"(Defensive Coordinator) Tom Valenta worked a lot this week with (Rizzo)," Nassar said. "I knew he could get it in. What we didn't know was if we could keep (the defense from blocking the kick)."

Despite the last-minute heroics, most of the fireworks of this game came in the first half.

Leesburg scored on a 74-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Efrain Negron after Bishop Moore drove 81 yards in six plays to put the first touchdown on the board.
The Jackets switched up their offense on the next drive. Negron when 3 of 3 passing in a spread offense, finishing with a 24-yard fade to junior wide out Jake Cavender to take a 14-7 lead.
The Jackets' defense also chimed in. Bishop Moore had taken a 21-20 lead late in the first half and were threatening to add to their advantage when Leesburg senior nose guard Andre Water stripped Hornets quarterback Eric Connolly. Cavender, who also plays defensive back, scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown.

Leesburg reached into its bag of tricks when Bishop Moore's next drive stalled at the Leesburg 40 yard line with :56 remaining in the half. A 58-yard hook-and-lateral pass from D'Mauri Jones to junior running back Luther McDowell put Leesburg up 32-21 at the half.

The Jackets sputtered in the third and most of the fourth quarter, allowing Bishop Moore to put two scores up and take a 34-32 lead with about 10 minutes left in the game. Sputtering drives for both sides led Leesburg to the winning points with just over a minute left.

"When you're an option team, you have to stay on schedule," Nassar said of several second half drive-killing penalties. "We knew we weren't able to sit on a lead, that we would need to score more points.

"Luckily, three was enough," he said.

Bishop Moore coach Matt Hedrick said poor tackling by the Hornets kept Leesburg in the game and let them win in on the last-minute field goal.

"We were prepared (for the option offense)," Hedrick said. "But we need to tackle a lot better."

Leesburg's next game comes on Friday at Mount Dora.


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