Varsity News
Varsity vs Hays Rebels

Lions Pounce on Rebels: 60-36

Players of the Week

Varsity vs LBJ Jaguars

Leander fumbles first half away but still blows out LBJ: 35-13

It should be obvious by now that when teams come to play the highly ranked Lion's, they are not opposed to pulling out their bag-o-tricks to get a quick score or a shot of adrenaline. LBJ caught Leander off guard with an onside kick right out of the locker room and it momentarily gave the Jags momentum and hope. Definitely need to be on the alert for these trick plays as we make our way through the 4A bracket.

Although it was the worst looking first half Leander has played in 2012, the defense adjusted to the LBJ offense and shut it down for most of the night and the offense was moving the ball in a double-time march down the field that would have had 2 or 3 scores before half-time if the they would just hang on to the ball. In the second half, it was a business-like running game that ate up the yardage and made up for the inexcusable mistakes of the second half.

For their dominant display of power, the guys in the offensive trenches get the credit this week.

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Marble Falls Mustangs

Marble Falls is Dismantled by Leander: 56-14

In a game played mainly for pride, the Lions seemed to play with their prey before taking them apart to the tune of 56-14. It was the most points put up by Leander all season, and just like in the Dripping Springs game, a lot of guys that don't see much action got a whole quarter of valuable playing time.

You could tell from his first pass that the Mustang QB was for real and could pick apart a defense if given the time. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the Lion pass rush kept the QB under pressure all night, sacking him several times and keeping him looking over his shoulder. Another outstanding performance by a defense that has only allowed 14 points to any one opponent all season. Zack Noska had another good night of coverage on their best receiver and came away with another interception. Martin Nwakamma, Michael Epley and Jacob Green all had sacks. But we really have to give credit to the entire defensive team for all their success, because without the great coverage downfield and everyone doing their job, those stand-out interceptions, sacks and fumble recoveries would not be possible.

As for the offense, 56 points says it all. Seven(7) different players scored touchdowns including Dylan Bauer, Brandon Hopp, Darian McClatcher, Ricky Peron, Michael Lecaros and Morris Robbins. Most of these happened behind blocking from our great O-line but surprisingly the second team line was also blowing huge holes through the Mustang defense and Morris Robbins took advantage of that to the tune of 102 yards and his 6 points.

With the final game of the regular season out of the way, lets take a look at just how well the Lions performed in 2012. Leander finished with 9 wins overall and 5 wins in the district, with their only loss to Cedar Park by 4 points. The Lions put up 300 points in 10 games (30 points per game average) and allowed only 71 points (7.1 points per game average). They recorded 3 shutouts, 1 against Hendrickson (who became 2012 District Champions), 1 against Pflugerville (who are also on their way to the playoffs) and another against Dripping Springs. It was the best season since 2005 when the Lion's were also 9-1 (coincidentally, the 2005 team's only loss was to Cedar Park).

In the first 10 games of 2012, Leander offense rushed 433 times for 2548 yards and completed 46 of 75 passes for 743 yards. Thats a total of 3291 yards. By comparison, after 10 games last year, the Lions recorded 414 carries for 2293 yards and completed 68 out of 112 passes for 1162 yards or 3455 total yards. The difference between offensive output was only 164 yards. The real difference is that this years defense allowed only 71 points to last years 193 points. Shows just how dominant the 2012 defense is. If it is true that defense wins championships, the Lions should have a good shot at making it to Jerry World in December.

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Dripping Springs Tigers

Lion's Dominate Tigers and Eliminate them from Playoffs: 37-0

The Leander Lions have clinched a 25-4A playoff spot by dominating a good Dripping Springs Tigers team and winning 37-0. The Lion's offense scored on their first drive for the first time this season, and put up 4 more touchdowns and a field goal before the end of the 3rd quarter. Almost the entire fourth quarter was used to get everyone in the game for some valuable experience.

A phenomenal exhibition by the Lion's defense kept the Tiger's offense to 25 total yards, shutting down their prolific passing game by pressuring the quarterback all night and smothering the receivers. Only 3 completions were logged for minimal gain. Zack Noska had a particularly good night covering Dripping Springs best receiver and still finding time to sack the QB. Leo Quintana and Michael Epley also stood out for multiple stops behind the line-of-scrimmage.

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Vista Ridge Rangers

Lion's Late Rally Disappoints Hopeful Rangers: 20-10

Players of the Week
Varsity vs Vandegrift Vipers
Photos Courtesy of Webmaster

Before the Vandegrift game started, the big question everyone had on their mind was "had the Lions' become too predictable"? It certainly seemed that way if you were watching the last 2 games. Cedar Park defense shut the Lions down and pulled the upset win and Rouse was only a touchdown away from pulling off their own shocker. I am sure the Vipers had worked all week on just one thing: Shut Caleb Woodward down and beat Leander. So what a surprise when the place kicker walks out to start the game in Caleb's place. Brandon Hopp (aka "The Iceman") showed everyone what a balanced offense can do to a good defense, throwing 4 TD passes and beating Vandegrift soundly 38-6.

The Lions would have great special team coverage all night, making the Vipers start each of their drives around their own 20 yard line. Vandegrift's offense was kept in check all night by a defense that was stifling. The Viper's did put a couple of drives together with some quick passing routes that broke for big yardage afterwards, but the Lion's would always find a way to stop the trip. It truly was a team effort on defense with just about everyone making big plays throughout the game. The defensive line with Jacob Green, Michael Epley, Jacob Tetreault, Eddie Sienko and Angel Perez kept anything from developing up the middle, while linebackers Hayden Newsome, Martin Nwakama, Rick Carreon, Leo Quintana, David Alfaro and Greg Kelley covered the outside, filled in the gaps and kept pressure on the QB all night. Taylor Sugar, Zack Noska and Tevin Smith shut down the Viper's long ball. Both Noska and Newsome had interceptions.

The offense started out horribly, fumbling on the first play from scrimmage and giving the ball back to the Viper's on their own 46 yard line. Their second drive was much better, but stalled in the red-zone and resulted in a missed field goal. And then it happened. Hopp's first touchdown was a swing-pass to Tevin Smith who outran the defense for 78 yards. His second was a 56 yard pass to Darrell Cleveland. The third was a 32 yard receiver screen to Darrell Cleveland. And his fourth was a 20 yard throw into the end-zone that was tipped up, juggled and caught by Cleveland. Great running by Dylan Bauer, Ricky Peron and Darian McClatcher kept the sticks moving. And the blocking, which makes it all happen, was as good as ever.

It was a great win for the Lion's who dominated on both offense and defense. Hopp is a great passer who has shown just how much talent the Lions have this season. It will be interesting to see who shows up as QB next game. Does Caleb take over where he left off; does Brandon keep going until he is ineffective, or do they both play like Sanchez and Tebow.

Players of the Week
Varsity vs Rouse Raiders
Photos Courtesy of Webmaster

If people did not know it before, the 2012 Leander Rouse Raiders are not the same team that won 2 games in as many years. In the first meeting of the two Leander teams, the difference in the score would be an interception for Leanders first score. The rest of the game was primarily fought in the trenches: Raider's WildCat vs the Leander's Veer. Sure, there were big plays allowed by big mistakes on both sides but the defenses showed just how good these kids could play against their former LCP teammates. And the record books will show that the 2012 Leander-Rouse game was won by the Lions; 21-13.

The Raiders got the ball first, took over on their 19 yard line and moved the ball a few yards at a time to earn a first down at the 29 yard line. On the very next play, Taylor Sugar intercepted the ball and then rode a team of blockers into the end-zone for the lead.

Rouse got nowhere on their second drive and punted the ball to Leander who started on their own 31. The Lions had success running the ball on their first offensive plays from scrimmage, mixing it up rather well with a quick toss to Tevin Smith for 3 yards and then a run up the middle by Ricky Peron for 12 and a first down. A power sweep to Darrel Cleveland went for 9 more but was called back for illegal procedure. And then the Lions fumbled on the next play giving the ball to the Raiders on the Lion's 45 yard line.

Rouse spent no time in capitalizing on the turnover by completing a 45 yard touchdown pass to a wide open receiver (blown coverage) that tied the score 7-7. Leander would fight back, putting together an 82 yard scoring drive which culminated with Caleb Woodward running it into the end-zone from the 12 yard line. The extra-point was good, making the score 14-7 going into half-time.

Rouse's next drive would start from their 48 and be the last time they scored. The Raiders would be helped by a couple of questionable calls: one for pass interference and one for defensive offsides (those are the breaks in high school football !!!). However, they would miss the extra point to make the score 14-13. Leander would answer immediately with a 67 yard drive of their own. Ricky Peron ran it up the middle a couple times to get it to the 47, followed by a 51 yard run by Darian McClatcher that probably would have been a score if the Ref was fast enough to get down there to see it. The ball was spotted on the 2 and a couple plays later, Caleb gets another touchdown. That made it 21-13 with 2:15 left in the 3rd quarter; plenty of time for Rouse to make a comeback if the Leander D would allow it.

The Raiders made it interesting, almost returning the ensuing kickoff for a TD: a saving tackle stopped the runner on the Leander 22. Rouse would drive the ball deep into the red-zone, but would be turned back at the 8 by a stingy defense. Rouse's field goal attempt is blocked, this time by Taylor Sugar. A couple of other drives ended with spectacular interceptions by Daryl Brooks; one with 1 hand.

Players of the Week
Varsity vs Cedar Park Timberwolves

Lions Come Up Short: 14-10

Varsity vs Pflugerville Panthers
Photos Courtesy of Webmaster

The Leander/Pflugerville matchup goes back many years, when both teams were competing for playoff spots in the same district. Leander has left District 16-5A to play with their LISD buddies in District 25-4A for the next 2 years, but has 3 Pflugerville teams scheduled in non-district; Connally, Hendrickson and Pflugerville High School. Friday's game meant a lot to both teams. The Leander Lions were 3-0 for the first time since 2005 and were ranked 2nd in the state for 4A schools. Their defense had allowed only 2 touchdowns since the season began, and the offense was averaging 32 points a game. The Panthers were also 3-0, averaging 37 points a game and giving up only 35 points. More impressive was their 34-7 win over a ranked San Antonio Reagan team. The game at old Kuempel Stadium left little doubt who was the better team that night. The Lions scored 3 TDs and shutout the Panthers 20-0, for a third win in a row against their old rivals.

Once again, the Lions defense started out rather slow, giving the Panthers excellent field position on their own 39 and then allowing them to drive the ball down to the 12 yard line before shutting them down. The Panthers have been making a living off their sweep and it worked very well in this first drive. Pflugerville attempted a 32 yard field goal but it was blocked by Hayden Newsom who penetrated the interior line. The Lion offense took the field, were stopped on a 3rd and 2, and had to punt. Pflugerville started driving again, making a couple of first downs before Leander started shutting them down with big losses. The entire defense worked together to shut the Panthers out and kept the number of points allowed against them to 14 points in 4 games. That is not easy to do on teams that are blowing their opponents out by 40 points afterwards. I am hoping that I can give each defender credit for an MVP type performance during the season. Against the Panthers, Taylor Sugar was the stand-out, with 2 key interceptions that set up Leander scores, 12 tackles overall and at least 5 game-changing tackles.

The Leander offense showed they were more than a one man show. Caleb Woodward contributed to this win against P'Ville, but this time he had a few more tools in the toolbox. Ricky Peron adds a new dimension to the backfield and he made some good yardage behind the O-line and Dylan Bauer's blocks. Ricky put up 6 points on the third play of the first half with a 20 yard run. The play that got him there was a beautiful 67 yard pass from Woodward to Sugar that seemed to shock the Panthers and add to the great night Taylor was having. Other teams are going to have to worry about Sugar, Smith and Cleveland.

We can't forget the Leander Offensive Line on this win either. The press and the fans seem to give all the credit to the boys making the touchdowns and tackles. Pflugerville has some big boys on their defensive line that will give any opponent trouble. The Leander boys did a great job keeping them at bay, and giving the backs enough time and space to score on 3 drives. Woodward also had adequate time to throw.

It was nice to see Caleb giving credit to the guys that have his back - Dylan Bauer, TJ Kawejsza, Grant Shewmaker, Bryan Resa, James Torres, Mikey Beckwith and Hunter Orona. It was a rebuilding year for the offense and there were questions about how well the Lions would be able to move the ball. Now that the non-district season is over, the Lions are 4-0, and the offense has put up 118 points; they know they can hang.

Friday is the start of 25-4A district play which is shaping up to be one of the toughest districts around. Leander will play a Cedar Park team that lost their first two games and won their next two, upsetting favored Westwood last week, 12-9. Leander and Cedar Park grew up playing Pop Warner football together and you can bet that these games against Cedar Park, Rouse, Vista Ridge and Vandergrift mean more than just another chance to make playoffs. The game is at Gupton Stadium and kickoff is at 7:30pm. I am sure there will be a large crowd on hand so get there early. It promises to be a very exciting game.

Go LIONS !!!

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Manor Mustangs
Photos Courtesy of Webmaster

The Lions continue to streak through their non-district schedule, putting up another win to start the season 3-0. It came against a trash-talkin Mustang team that had plans to win their second game of the season. Manor had no manners, but they had speed, and for almost the entire first half of the game they bottled up the Lion offense like the Lion defense is used to doing to other teams. Leanders defense broke down one time and bent on a few other occasions, but they kept the Mustangs in check until the offense could figure a way to score. Leander wore down Manor and put up 4 touchdowns to come out on top, 28-7.

When the game started, it looked like business as usual. The Lions drove down the field efficiently and were deep in the red-zone despite a couple of suspicious holding calls. Manor held on third down and the Lions kicked a successful 5 yard field goal that was declined by Leander when the Mustangs committed a personal foul. The Lions got the ball on the 3 yard line and their first score and extra point came shortly after to make it 7-0. The teams traded possession a couple times after that. Manor's only score of the game came when their RB hit the off-tackle hole, bounce off a few bad arm tackles and then had no one between him and the end-zone. The score made it 7-7, and more importantly, it gave the Mustangs hope. Manor's defense carried that momentum into the next few Leander drives, their speed stopping the Lion outside threats (Woodward, Smith and Cleveland) for little yardage, and then stacking the box to clog up the middle: pretty much daring Leander to throw the ball. The Lion's offensive line had a hard time creating space in the middle and blocking could not get outside fast enough to set up. Without an established passing attack, the Mustangs seemed to have all the bases covered and kept the Lions far away from end-zone, at least until half-time.

Leander came out of the locker-room with renewed energy and a plan that would allow them to score 3 more touchdowns. They received the the second half kickoff and scored in a 1:20 to make it 14-7. Manor also adjusted during half-time, decided that they could throw the ball on Leander's defense, and that is what they went with. The Mustangs quarterback moved the ball down the field with his arm on a couple drives, but was turned back when it mattered, either by a strong pass rush or nagging penalties. Their defense was still keeping the Lions from running outside. They couldn't stop the Lions bigger o-line. Manor's defense eventually tired out as was evident when Dylan Bauer start making considerable yardage running up the middle. Mr Woodward connected with Michael Lecaros on a 32 yard pass play to make it 21-7, taking all the life out of the other sideline. On Manor's next drive, Hayden Newsom intercepted the ball on their 19 yard line, and the momentum completely swung in Leander's favor. The Lions scored once again by scrumming Caleb into the end-zone after he was stopped at the 2. Leander could have put up another score when a long Bauer run gave the Lion's a first and ten at the 3 yard line, but Coach Harper ran the clock out instead. It would have been nice to put up our favorite number of points (35) again, but 28-7 is still respectable.

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Pflugerville Hendrickson Hawks
Photos Courtesy of Game Night Photography

Lions Take Down the Hawks 35-0

After beating the Connally Cougars last week for the first season-opening win since 2008, the Lions played their first home game of the 2012 football season against a Hendrickson Hawks team looking to rebound from a lopsided loss last week to Leander Rouse. This time the stingy Lion's defense settled in fast and kept the Hawks caged up for most of the night, while the Leander offense powered its way into the end-zone 5 times. Final score: Leander 35, Hendrickson 0.

The Leander defense showed up on the first Hawk drive, keeping them to a 3 and out (as we knew they could). It would be this way for most of the night. Hendrickson runningbacks broke a couple long runs during the game, with one taking them within 5 yards of a score, stopped only by the speed of Junior Safety Greg Kelley. On 4th and 1, Linebacker Hayden Newsom broke through the line, hit the Hawk runningback before he could get started and kept the Hawks scoreless. A second promising Hendrickson drive was halted when Greg Kelley intercepted a coffin-corner pass. Cornerback Zach Noska ended the Hawks last scoring threat by making a brilliant open-field tackle on a Hendrickson runningback, catching him in the backfield.

Offensive production was led, once again, by the elusive running of Caleb Woodward. Dylan Bauer pounded away up the middle and even broke a big 40 yard off-tackle run. Tevin Smith added to the yardage total; especially his first break-away down the sideline that went for about 50 yards and ended on the 5. They each have a special set of skills that greatly contribute to the teams success. But what really caught my eye this week was just how good the blocking was - all around. When the other team knows you are going to run the ball 95% of the time and you can still make 3 or more yards up the middle, you have to give credit to an offensive line that is moving bodies off the ball. Hendrickson had some large boys on their defensive line, but time after time, the backs were able to move through the tight lanes to make good yardage. I used to think that this years O-line would be no where as good as last years. They don't have the size or experience that last years line had. However, anyone watching the last 2 games can see the results: a smaller, faster bunch of kids who make up for their lack of experience and size with technique. A few of these guys can drive their opponents back 5-10 yards, and the others are extremely good at cutting their assignments down. This games standout was Senior Offensive Tackle TJ Kawejsza, delivering several bone-crushing hits, sealing off lanes, and driving his man 5 to 10 yards down field. It is not only the line though. Mr Bauer has gotten awfully good at blocking, making most of the key blocks that get the play started. And if you look downfield, even the receivers are great at keeping their assignments at bay. Its nice to have some speed in your backfield, but blocking is the thing that gets that speed in the end-zone.

What may be the most important thing to happen in this game was finding a reliable receiver that can take it to the house. On his first big play, Darrell Cleveland caught the ball on a wide-receiver screen and outran the defense for a 50 yard touchdown play to make the score 14-0. Most fans would have chalked that one up to luck, until Caleb unleashed a 50 yard bomb to Darrell who caught the ball over the head of 2 defenders at the 1 yard line. Having a QB that can throw and a deep-threat receiver can really open up the offense. The big-time receiver draws the CB and Safeties down field and opens up the outside running lanes. Against Connally, the Lions scored on a pass to Reece Richey. During the Hendrickson game, we discovered Mr Cleveland's talents. Having that extra dimension will pay dividends as we find ourselves going up against stiffer competition.

Players of the Week

Varsity vs Pflugerville Connally Cougars
Photos Courtesy of Webmaster

Lions Win 1st Opener Since 2008

The Leander Lions first non-district game of the season against the Connally Cougars began Friday night with a lot of questions about how a good 2011 defense, that returns 9 experienced players, can be against an offense whose returning RB and QB were responsible for 35 points a game last season. More importantly, how would a retooled Lion's offense do against a talented defense with some size on the line and speed everywhere else. When the game was over, the answer to both of these were: amazingly well !!! The Lions win there first game as a 4A school: 35-7.

After the first Lion defensive and offensive series, most fans were afraid the Cougars had too much talent to overcome. Connally's offense received the initial kick-off and drove it systematically 70 yards to take the lead 7-0. Leander's offense went 3 and out on its first drive that started deep in their territory, and had to punt it back to the Cougars, giving them good field position at around mid field. It looked to be a long night for the Lions, but the defense clamped down hard and mistakes by Connally soon had them punting back to Leander who got the ball on the 20 yard line. The Lion offense began moving the ball up the field and didn't stop all game. With a couple of timely fumble recoveries, the Lions racked up 28 points by half-time.

Connally started a few nice drives of their own, with one drive going all the way to the 3 yard line just before the half ended. However, this and every other attempt to score was thwarted by that defense we all know from last year. The Lions would score one more time in the second half, running the ball straight at Connally. The new offensive line may not be as good as last years, but they definitely show promise and exceeded fan expectations in this first game. Although most of the yardage was made running the ball, this year Leander seems to have a decent passing game that will keep opponents guessing whether to cover the run or the pass.

The win against Connally marks the first time since the 2008 season that the Lions won their season opener. In the 2010-2011 seasons, Leander has lost its first 3 games before turning it on in district play and making it a few games into the playoffs. Last season, Leander shocked favorite Westwood and won the District 16-5A championship. This is a promising start to a season in which Leander is ranked 7th in the state 4A classification.

Players of the Week

2012 Varsity Schedule