Lions secure district title, playoff spot

By JK Monroe

The cold front that moved in Friday night, Oct. 28, had little effect on the fans or the team. Fans stayed in the game and the Lions never quit in the 14-7 victory over Westwood. This win not only snapped the Warriors undefeated streak, but also secured the District 16-5A championship for the Lions. This was definitely one of the Lions hardest tests yet this year.

Leander’s win depended highly on a game-changing interception by Daryl Brooksone who ran it back to Westwood’s 40-yard line. “We work on that every week before the game,” said Michael Epley. “That last defensive stand was amazing. That was the best feeling ever.” (Leander Ledger)

The Lions executed another 8 plays allowing them to get back down field into the red-zone. The Lions were now faced with a fourth down situation. Needing a conversion, a pass sent by Andres Barrera to sophomore Michael Epley for a go-ahead touchdown with 5:10 left in the game gave the Lions hope.

Westwood answered by marching back to the Leander 4-yard line; this was Westwood’s chance at a tie and a chance in overtime.

Leander’s defense had another idea in mind, however, holding Westwood back by not allowing a single yard by any of the Westwood offense, forcing the Warriors into a similar situation the Lions faced, fourth down, needing a touchdown to tie the game.

After timeouts taken by both teams, Ben Johnson (WW QB) rolled out to the right, with no option but to throw an incomplete pass turning the ball back over to Leander. With little time left on the clock, Barrera takes a knee to secure the win.

When the clock hit zero, the stadium erupted in cheers for the boys in blue.  The last time Leander won the District Championship was back in 2006. Coach Clint Harper, however, stood in silence with his head down., deep in thought. “I was just thanking God for all that He has blessed me with. A great family, a great school, a supportive community, and fantastic kids. I’m truly blessed,” he said.

The Lions roll out now with a 5-0 district record. This week they a face McNeil team (1-8, 0-5) at Kelly Reeves Stadium on Thursday, Nov. 3. With a win against McNeil, Leander will claim the District 16-5A championship outright followed by the state playoffs.

After the game, Leander Head Coach Clint Harper was asked about what the future of this team held and where they could go, “We are concentrating on Thursday night’s game against McNeil. This is our only focus this week. I’m really proud of the way our guys played tonight.” (YNN)

This may be the last time Leander will play a District 16-5A high school football game for a while due to the UIL realignment in February. Meaning Leander will be headed back down to conference 4A to join the rest of the LISD schools. Until then, Leander pushes forward with another win in the books.