Sunday, August 15, 2010

Leesburg Stings Eustis

Speed Proves Key For Yellow Jackets In 21-7 Victory

The Yellow Jackets Scored Three Touchdowns In The First Half To Secure A Season-opening Win.

September 02, 2000

By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG -- Leesburg Coach Bud O'Hara said more than once during the preseason when talking about his football team: "Speed kills.''

It didn't take long for Eustis to find out what he meant.

The Yellow Jackets used their speed to score three touchdowns in the first half and then rolled to a 21-7 victory over the Panthers in the season-opening game Friday night at Memorial Field/Hubert O. Dabney Stadium.

Leesburg (1-0) scored its first-half touchdowns on a 21-yard run by Tony Fields, a 39-yard pass play from quarterback Derek Burbank to Jermaine Orr, who had gotten behind the Panther secondary and made a nice catch after bobbling the ball, and then on a 91-yard kickoff return by Orr.

It was hard to imagine that this was the same Leesburg football team that opened practice on Aug. 7 with only 14 players ready to play.

Orr turned out to be the star for the Yellow Jackets.

Not only did he score two touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions, the second of which came with 5:09 remaining in the game and sealed the Yellow Jackets' victory.

"I was just backpedaling and I saw the ball coming,'' Orr said about his second interception."It feels real good. Everybody believed we weren't going to win. Everybody except for the players on the team.

Leesburg scored the first three times it got the ball, and when it wasn't sprinting into the end zone, its defense was doing a pretty good job of stopping the talented Eustis backfield of Toris Carter, Deleon Dawson and Clifton Joseph. In the first half, only Carter had much success, rushing for 41 yards. Dawson had just 15 and Joseph had 11.

Another of Eustis' talented backs, Russell Fickett, who is injured, didn't play.

The Yellow Jackets defense set up the first two touchdowns.

The first one, Fields' 21-yard run, came after Eustis' Carter fumbled, and Leesburg linebacker Corrie Kelly recovered the ball at the Eustis 43.

Orr set up his touchdown reception when he intercepted Eustis quarterback Steven Ziegelhofer's pass intended for Sammy Rimes. Leesburg then put together a nice drive that twice included third-down conversions for first downs and one fourth-down conversion.

Eustis (0-1) did manage to get on the scoreboard with 3:43 remaining in the half after Panther lineman Sidney Richardson broke through the line and blocked a punt attempt by Doug Orr, and Deleon Dawson recovered at the Leesburg 33. Three plays later, Frankie Manor scored on an 11-yard run.

Joe Williams 
The Sentinel Staff
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South Lake spoils Leesburg's playoff plan

November 02, 2001
Daily Commercial Staff Writer

All the Leesburg Yellow Jackets needed to do to solidify a Class 4A-4 playoff spot was get a victory Friday night.

Enter the underdog South Lake Eagles.

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead, then held off a Leesburg late-game surge to win, 21-20.

After a Jarriel Lewis punt from the Eagles' end-zone with less than a minute to play, Leesburg (6-4, 3-3) took over on the 15-yard line.

After a gain of two yards and with no timeouts remaining, Yellow Jackets kicker Stephen Malinda entered the game to get the win. The off-and-on rain throughout the night made the playing field slick, but the snap and hold were good. Malina booted the pigskin for a 30-yard attempt but watched it fall a few yards short.

"My hat's off to Leesburg -- it's a shame someone had to lose tonight," South Lake coach Charles Weems said.

The Eagles (5-5, 4-3 5A-4) turned their season around after an 0-3 start to win five of their last seven games. The Yellow Jackets had several opportunities to win the game but turnovers eventually hurt them.

With four minutes gone in the first quarter, South Lake already owned a 14-0 lead. On the opening kickoff, Leesburg coughed up the ball (one of five fumbles on the night) and two plays later, Terrance Holden ran in from 17 yards. On the Yellow Jackets ensuing possession, they again fumbled on the first play and suffered the consequences. Lewis found Perry Garrett for a 30-yard touchdown pass four plays later.

Lewis ended the game 14-of-17 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Garrett added 70 yards on the ground.

The Eagles added a third score in the first quarter when Lewis hit brother Jarrett for a 51-yard touchdown.

But the Yellow Jackets did not back down. Quarterback Jermaine Orr scored on touchdown runs of 3, 1 and 1 yards. Orr's third scored came with 5:39 in the third quarter, but the South Lake defense blocked the extra point attempt to hold the fragile, 21-20 lead.

"We came tough the first quarter and they played a great second half like we knew they would," Weems said. "They're a great team. . . .we knew they wouldn't quit.

"This was a great way to send our seniors out."

Daily Commercial Staff Writer

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Leesburg Stuffs Mccoy, Shuts Out Eustis Mitchem, Hanks Each Break 100-yard Barrier In Jackets' 21-0 Victory

Former Leesburg Standout Undra Mitchem at The Citadel

 October 21, 1989|By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff

EUSTIS — On a night when a pair of Leesburg High School running backs each rushed for more than 100 yards, it was the Yellow Jackets' defense that played a starring role, leading Leesburg to a 21-0 victory over Eustis on Friday night in a non-district game played at The Panther Den.

Leesburg's duo of senior halfbacks, Undra Mitchem and Lee Hanks (playing in only his second game since recovering from a fractured ankle) both broke through for long runs to add to their totals.

Former Leesburg Yellow Jacket Standout Lee Hanks at Morninside College
Hanks, who gained 132 yards on 15 carries, ignited Leesburg (2-4) on its first possession in front of an estimated crowd of 1,200 chilly fans. He broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown run. Mitchem, who had 145 yards on 17 carries, broke loose on a 71-yard carry in the third quarter to help set up his 4-yard touchdown run two plays later.

 Mitchem would have scored on his long run if Brian Treves didn't trip him up at Eustis' 15 before Garlan Wilkins got to the stumbling Mitchem at the 9.

But it was Leesburg's defense that battered and stuffed Eustis' offense. The Panthers (3-4), who gave quarterback Steve Williams his first start in an attempt to build a better passing attack, never sustained much of an attack. Williams was 1 of 10 for 12 yards with three interceptions.

Leesburg keyed on Bayfus McCoy, Eustis' sophomore tailback who entered the game with 1,073 yards for the season and hadn't been held under 100 yards in a game. McCoy, who injured his left hand late in the first quarter and played the remainder of the game with it taped, never gained more than 2 yards on a carry and ended with minus 9 yards on 13 carries.

Without McCoy's standard performance, Eustis' offense could gain only 35 yards.
McCoy also fumbled the ball away three times, which accounted for half of the Panthers' six turnovers. Williams' interceptions were the others. Eric Sims picked off two interceptions and Willie Dickens grabbed the other.

''They just stopped us,'' Eustis Coach George Fuller said. ''Bayfus had a hand injury which didn't help, but the offense just wasn't clicking and they were stuffing us up front. We just played like we were flat.''

Eustis' only drive came in the first quarter and was aided by two 15-yard penalties against Leesburg, including a roughing-the-punter penalty. With those penalties and some hard running by Eustis fullback Darren Moore, the Panthers drove to Leesburg's 22 before turning over the ball on downs.

Eustis never again got closer than Leesburg's 46, but Leesburg spent much of the night in Eustis' territory.
The Yellow Jackets came up just short of the goal line on the final play of the first half. Leesburg linebacker Joe Fernandez recovered McCoy's fumble at Eustis' 49 with 1:22 remaining. Mitchem, following a 35-yard gain, got around the right end with time running out but was knocked out of bounds at the goal line.

''I don't think this was our best defensive game of the season,'' Leesburg Coach Ken Weir said. ''Without a doubt, I think that was against Vanguard a 30-10 victory. But this was a good defensive effort.''

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Johnson Going Home To Play Alma Mater Leesburg


September 22, 1989
By Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG — Juanita Tanner's son is coming home.

Greg Johnson, a star on the Leesburg High School football teams from 1968 through 1971 and an integral part of the 1969 Yellow Jacket team that went 11-2 (9-1 in the regular season) and lost to Tampa Blake, 27-6, in the Class A state championship game, will return to Memorial Field tonight.

Johnson returns as a conquering hero who Leesburg fans and players hope can be conquered. Johnson is the coach of Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Leesburg's opponents in a non-district game beginning at 7:30.

''It's fantastic. It's just a dream come true,'' said Tanner, who lives in Fruitland Park, and can barely wait for tonight's game. ''We are thrilled to death. All the neighbors and friends have been calling. Everyone is tickled to death.''
Although she has watched Johnson many times as a player, this will be her first opportunity to watch him work as a coach. It's a moment she has been waiting for and preparing for for a long time.

Win or lose, Tanner and her family, will be there in the stands rooting for Johnson's Kowboys. She will have to change her allegiances at least for tonight.

''We may have to move out of the county because we are going to sit on his side and root for him,'' she said. ''Though we want him to win, we hate to see Leesburg lose. The whole family is going to be there. The stands may be taken up by the family.''

Although it may seem strange for Tanner and her family to be sitting on the visitor's side, they actually will be sitting on the same side of the field they sat on to watch Johnson play. Leesburg swapped sides of the field a few years ago when the field was renovated and new concrete bleachers were built.

''I know that we'll be on the side that I played on,'' Johnson said. ''I poured out a lot of blood and sweat and some tears on that side of the field. It is going to be a little bit like deja vu.

''This will be the first time I'll be back there. I know some of my friends will be in the stands. It will be funny and strange. I know some of my friends have kids playing for Leesburg, but I don't know if any are on the varsity. There is some personal pride to coming in and winning. It will make my homecoming more memorable.''

Johnson, who was 6 feet 4 and weighed 220 pounds his senior season, played defensive end and offensive tackle for the Yellow Jackets and Coach Wilbur Lofton. He later played defensive end at Florida State University and was drafted in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976.

After a couple of preseason games, he was traded to the Baltimore Colts. He played a season for the Colts before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was a backup to defensive end Lee Roy Selmon.

He finished his professional career by playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League in 1978 and 1979.

Johnson returned to FSU in 1979, finished his degree, and, after working two years in the insurance business in Jacksonville, started his coaching career at Episcopal High School in Jacksonville. He came to Osceola as an assistant in 1984 and became the school's coach last year.

Yes, Johnson is going home, and just like when he played for Leesburg, his family will be in the stands rooting for him. But, for his mother, this is a special occassion.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

School district won’t release controversial tape


Denise-Marie Balona, High school sports, High schools, Lake County schools — posted by denise balona on July, 28 2010 7:03 AM

The Lake County school district has two words for those of you who — like me — were waiting for officials to release a tape of former football coach Charles Nassar’s rantings during a private meeting: Tough tootsies.

District officials aren’t giving out copies, even though they’re technically public records. Why? The State Attorney’s Office told them not to, they said.

You see, Nassar, who coached at Leesburg High, says the tape was made illegally. He was meeting with some of his assistant coaches in his office and someone made an audio tape of the conversation without him knowing. Several copies of that tape surfaced this past spring — one reason Nassar decided to turn in his clipboard.

The school district had launched an internal review based on the contents of the tape. But officials weren’t sure how to proceed considering, for one thing, that Nassar’s attorney claimed that even listening to it could be a violation of the law.

The district sought guidance from the local State Attorney’s Office, which recently issued a short letter saying the tapes should be sealed and then, when the district keeps them as long as they’re required to under public-records law, they can be thrown out.

Publicizing the tape’s contents would constitute a new crime because the taped conversation was illegal, said Assistant State Attorney Mark D. Simpson in his letter to the district.


Denise-Marie Balona
Orlando Sentinel

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Saving Tackle Lifts Leesburg

Widmann Stops Conversion In 7-6 Victory Against Eustis

September 14, 1991

By Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff
EUSTIS — Oran Singleton, whose runs continually provided lifts for Leesburg, got a well-deserved ride on the shoulders of friends Friday night at the Panther Den after the Yellow Jackets escaped with a 7-6 victory over Eustis in a non-district high school football game.

Singleton got the ride, but it was linebacker Bo Widmann who delivered the victory, which came in front of a crowd of about 3,500.

Widmann made a dizzying hit on Eustis running back Bayfus McCoy on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:28 to play to keep Leesburg in the lead. Widmann was slow getting up, and the Panthers had no time to recover.

''I saw it coming,'' Widmann said. ''I set up the blocker, and I just had an open shot at him.''

McCoy pulled the Panthers to a point when he took a pitchout from quarterback Anthony Allen on a fourth-and-18 play. McCoy got to the outside and blew past the Yellow Jackets for a 50-yard touchdown run. It was the only time McCoy broke a long run.

The game was matched two of Central Florida's most explosive running backs. McCoy finished with 119 yards on 21 carries.

Singleton rushed for 146 yards on 20 carries, including a 34-yard run on a fake punt in the first quarter, which led to a missed 35-yard field-goal attempt by Brian Rausch. Singleton also broke a 37-yard run in the second quarter to set up Leesburg's touchdown by quarterback Steve Gooden.

Gooden scored on a 5-yard run after being trapped by several defenders, including Jason Cory and Chris Likely. But Gooden spun away, cut back to his left and scored with 4:44 remaining in the half. Rausch kicked the extra point.

Leesburg 7, Eustis 6

Leesburg 0 7 0 0 - 7
Eustis 0 0 0 6 - 6

L - Gooden 5 run (Rausch kick); E - McCoy 50 run (run failed).


Joe Williams Of The Sentinel Staff
Orlando Sentinel

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eustis Goes For 2, Beats Leesburg

October 20, 1990

By Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG — There was a satisfied look on Bayfus McCoy's face as he walked off the field at Hubert O. Dabney Stadium Friday afternoon after scoring an overtime touchdown to help lift Eustis to a 22-21 victory against Leesburg.

McCoy was one of the state's rushing leaders through the middle of the year last season before Leesburg's defense stopped him for minus 9 yards. Friday, although McCoy only gained 56 yards on 17 carries, he got the upper hand, scoring on a 1-yard run in overtime and quieting the crowd of about 1,000.

Eustis quarterback Anthony Allen then faked a handoff to McCoy on the conversion attempt, freezing Leesburg's defense momentarily, before Allen took off on a bootleg around left end and got into the corner of the end zone for the victory.

''When it got into crunch time, I wanted the ball,'' McCoy said. ''It's just a good feeling to come in here and beat a AAAA school. Now, all we have to do is start beating the AA and AAA schools.''

Class AAA Eustis (3-3) elected to play defense first after winning the coin toss for the Kansas tiebreaker. Leesburg (3-4) took the ball on the 10, and three plays later reserve fullback Bobby Dan McGlohorn scored on a 2-yard run. Chris Craine kicked the extra point, putting Leesburg up, 21-14.

After Eustis scored on McCoy's 1-yard run, kicker Justin Smith jogged onto the field to attempt the extra point, but Eustis Coach Kevin McClelland called timeout and opted to go for the conversion.

''I'm going to go for the two (points) anytime I'm in a situation like that,'' McClelland said. ''I don't care what anybody else does, I wanted to go for the win right there.''

Leesburg seemed to be in control most of the game. But the Yellow Jackets lost some key defensive players, such as linebackers Bryant Reed and Ty Lawrence, to injuries in the first half. Then, Leesburg also hurt itself with a couple of mistakes.

Leesburg led, 14-7, in the third quarter after sophomore running back Oran Singleton, who rushing for 121 yards on 20 carries, scored on a 55-yard touchdown run.

After linebacker Jason Sellers intercepted a pass by Allen at Eustis' 40 on the next possession, Leesburg looked like it was going to put the game away. But fullback Joe Fernandez fumbled on the 18, and defensive lineman Jason Cory recovered his second fumble of the game.

Eustis then was presented with an opportunity to tie the score with 7:39 remaining when a high snap sailed through punter Brian Rausch's fingers. Rausch picked up the ball but was tackled at Leesburg's 5 by Rodney Stevenson and Matt Brown.

Three plays later, Allen scored on a 3-yard run to tie the score and force overtime.

Joe Williams of The Sentinel Staff
Orlando Sentinel

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Leesburg rally falls short at Hernando

published: Saturday, October 17, 2009

C.J. Risak
Staff writer

HERNANDO -- Leesburg coach Charles Nassar wasn't about to sugarcoat his team's performance Friday at Hernando.

Asked what his team might have gained from a strong second-half performance that saw the Yellow Jackets trim a 27-0 deficit to a single touchdown, Nassar replied, "Nothing. We lost. There's no moral victory to be had.

"You just can't dig a hole that deep. We had to be perfect in the second half and couldn't do it."

No, they weren't perfect, one reason they fell to the Leopards, 41-28, a loss that left them 4-3 overall, 2-2 in 3A-6. Hernando is 4-2 overall, 3-1 in 3A-6.

But there wasn't just the hole. It's who dug it for them.

Like Hernando's Alvin Delaine III, the main cog in the Leopards' three-man attack. Delaine gained 205 yards rushing on 20 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and caught two passes for 18 yards and another TD. He added a two-point conversion pass reception to cap a spectacular evening.

But he was only part of Leesburg's problem. As Nassar explained when asked what his team did differently in the second half, he simply said, "Nothing. We started blocking, that's all."

Between their opening drive of the game and their first drive of the second half, the Yellow Jackets could not even get a first down. Hernando drove 55 yards in the first quarter, Delaine going the last 27, to get its first score, then added three more in the second, the first following an interception by Derek Wilson tha tled to Kall Daniel's 8-yard pass to Delaine, the next a 66-yard drive capped by Marlin Smith's 2-yard run, and the last after a fumble on the kickoff return that turned into an 11-yard Smith TD run.

Prospects for a long second half for Leesburg seemed good. But the Yellow Jackets went 55 yards in just six plays, Luther McDowell -- who did not touch the ball in the first half -- going 42 yards to the Leopards' 5, then scoring on a 3-yard run to make it 27-7.

Hernando answered with a 57-yard TD drive, Smith getting his third touchdown from 4 yards out, to put it at 35-7.

But then it really got interesting.

Leesburg drove 58 yards for a score, Malcolm Belton diving in from 2 yards out, trimming the deficit to 35-14 with 44.6 seconds left in the third quarter. Then the Yellow Jackets' Austin Sellars recovered Ben Rizzo's onside kick at the Hernando 37, and on the next play McDowell tossed a 37-yard scoring strike to Sellars. In an 8-second span, Leesburg had scored twice to make it 35-21.

It wasn't over yet. Hernando fumbled on its very next play from scrimmage, Leesburg recovered, and eight plays later Belton pushed his way in from a yard out to make it 35-28 with more than nine minutes to play.

Leesburg had one last go at it, recovering another fumble at the Hernando 27. But that was it. Delaine added a 12-yard TD run with 2:07 left to cap it for the Leopards.

"We were trying to look for a way to give it away," said Hernando coach John Palmer. "Our defense set the tone early and I can't say enough about our offensive line."

For Leesburg, Belton had 92 rushing yards on 16 carries and McDowell gained 82 on eight tries, getting all his yards in the second half.

C.J. Risak
Staff writer
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Big-play Touchdowns Lead Leesburg Past Mount Dora

September 21, 1991
By Herky Cush Of The Sentinel Staff
LEESBURG — The threat of lightning twice held up play in the Leesburg-Mount Dora game Friday night, but in the end it was the host Yellow Jackets who did the quick striking in a 42-7 non-district victory at Leesburg Memorial/Hubert O. Dabney Stadium before a crowd of about 1,000 fans.

Three times in the game Leesburg had scoring drives of one play with tailback Oran Singleton scoring on runs on 74 and 76 yards and quarterback Steve Gooden completing a 68-yard pass to Bo Widmann.

Mount Dora (0-2) answered the first touchdown of Leesburg (2-0) but could not offer any challenge to the big plays of the Yellow Jackets.

''I'd prefer the long drives that take time off the clock,'' Leesburg coach Ken Weir said. ''But with Oran that's just not going to happen.''

Following the second halt in play, 32 minutes with 3:40 left in the second quarter, the teams took a two-minute break for the half. And in the second half, with the consent of both coaches, the clock kept running, even on incomplete passes and timeouts.

Gooden took off on a 44-yard keeper to open the scoring with 1:35 gone in the opening period.

Mount Dora answered with Shawn Howard scoring on a 4-yard run on fourth down.

Then Singleton, 5 feet 5, 155 pounds, took over with three consecutive touchdowns.

Following the Singleton Show, Gooden struck with two long touchdown passes - a 68-yarder to Widmann and then a 55-yarder to D. J. Keith in the third period that closed the scoring.

''There's no answer for that kind of speed,'' said Mount Dora's first-year coach Craig Cosden. ''We can't prepare for that kind of speed because we don't have anyone like Oran.''

On both of the long runs by Singleton, the last Hurricane to have a shot was Howard, but he couldn't get enough of an angle to make a play on the swift Leesburg star.

''He's quick that's for sure,'' Weir said. ''I just felt bad for him about the continuous clock.''

Singleton had 186 yards on 10 carries in the first half and finished the game with 184 on 13 carries. His three second-half carries came behind the second-team offensive line.

Leesburg 42, Mount Dora 7
Mount Dora 7 0 0 0 - 7
Leesburg 14 21 7 0 - 42

L - Gooden 44 run (Raush kick); MD - Howard 4 run (Beasley kick); L - Singleton 1 run (Raush kick); L - Singleton 74 run (Raush kick); L - Singleton 76 run (Raush kick); L - Widmann 68 pass from Gooden (Raush kick); L - Keith 55 pass from Gooden (Raush kick).