It doesn’t matter what is going on around Brandyn Leonard on the football field.
He’s the same old reliable No. 7.
“Sometime I get pretty hyped, but I try to stay calm,” he said. “Everyone was getting crazy because we were down (against Brophy) but I always figure it is better to stay calm.”
It’s the same approach — slowing things down while everything around him is going full bore — that makes the Mountain Pointe senior one of the best running backs in the state.
Leonard has the patience and vision to wait on the hole to develop if it isn’t there right away and the power and speed to hit whenever it cracks open.
“He has great vision,” Pride coach Norris Vaughan said. “It’s a natural gift but we work on it, too. He does a good job of setting up his blocks and making the right decision when to go.”
He ranks ninth in the state with 1,093 yards while averaging 9.3 yards a carry and 136.6 yards a game. While Paul Lucas gets most of the attention — especially from Division I colleges — Leonard is the one who carries most of the load, especially since Lucas has been slowed by an injury.
It has put the onus on the 6-foot, 180-pound Leonard to be the top tailback for Mountain Pointe (6-2) as the Pride travels to Corona del Sol (1-6) on Friday.
It’s a position — having his number called — he has relished in since moving up to varsity last year.
He was mostly the third option last season, but when Wesley Payne was hurt in the first quarter against Chandler, Leonard was given the ball 25 times and he responded with 177 yards to give a glimpse of what he was capable of this year.
“I do whatever they need me to,” Leonard said. “Just tell me what to do I will do it. I’ll ready for whatever happens.”
Leonard has four games of at least 150 yards this season, including 218 last week against Brophy and 241 against Chandler. Over the last four games, he has averaged 24.5 carries a game after only having four double-digit-carry games in the previous 18 games of his career.
“We’ve had to rely on him more and more in recent weeks,” Pride co-offensive coordinator Eric Lauer said. “Brandyn gets stronger the more he gets it. He’s a tough runner and he is stronger than he looks.”
It helps having one of the best offensive lines in the state. The unit has started the same five — center Collin Lambdin, tackles Nick Carman and Davis Perrott, and guards De’Shaun Felder and Clayton Dry — all season and are seemingly getting better each week.
The running game is averaging 311.8 yards a game and have rushed for less than 232 yards only once this season. They block the same way whether it is fullback Tyrek Cross (437 yards, nine TDs), Lucas (561, five TDs) or Leonard.
“We know our assignments and we block the guy we are supposed,” Felder said. “We are doing our job and the best we can do. It doesn’t matter who is running. I know they are going to hit the holes hard.”
Carman, who recently committed to Utah, said he can tell when Leonard is about to take over a game.
“His personality is quiet, but he has a fire burning inside,” Carman said. “Once the fire starts burning, he is going to be hard to bring down.”
Leonard, who only has one Division II offer from the University of Mary, believes the team will straighten things out and make another run at state with everything else falling into place.
In other words, Leonard is staying calm while everything, and nearly everyone, else is going at a hectic pace.
“I don’t worry about anything but focusing on high school right now,” he said. “I’m putting up my best effort possible. I’ll let everything else come to me.”
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