Left in his dust: Leeman torches Laker D for 5 TDs

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

GIBBONS GIVES CHASE — Lake Region’s Cody Gibbons (right) tries to tackle Greely speedster Mike Leeman during Friday’s game in Naples. Leeman scored five touchdowns to lead the Rangers to victory. (Rivet Photo)

Lake Region’s defensive players might like to consider themselves tough as bulldogs, but they couldn’t catch a greyhound named Mike Leeman last Friday night.

Greely’s senior running back scored five touchdowns and rushed for 214 yards to lead the Rangers to a 57-22 victory at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex.

Just how quick was Leeman? LR senior Eli Szeto put it simply, “That kid is fast,” after Leeman zipped down the sideline on a quick hitter to the outside for a 70-yard touchdown.

Leeman was a blur most of the night as he scored from 81, 70, 65 and 64 yards out. He averaged an eye-popping 15.3 yards per run attempt and had more all purpose yards (343) than the entire Laker offense. If LR defenders were unable to make a hit and tackle Leeman laterally, they lacked the speed to try to take a good pursuit angle as the speedy 6-foot-1, 167-pound back left the Lakers in his vapor trail. Leemann’s shortest distance to pay dirt was nine yards to start the scoring on the Rangers’ opening drive.

“Our linemen had a difficult time adjusting to that speed, and they got frustrated. It’s tough to game plan against someone with speed like that because you don’t see it at practice. We showed our guys film of what they do, and we just weren’t following our assignments,” LR Coach Jason Simmons said. “They were the better team. We can’t have kids say they are hurt, miss two days of practice, and then suit up and be ready for a game on Friday. You can’t just strap it on and go — and think you’re going to make plays.”

Leeman gave the LR defense a sample of his speed when he beat his defender on the opening play for a 38-yard pass connection from quarterback Drew Hodge (7-of-13 for 174 yards and two touchdowns).

Greely made it 13-0 with just under four minutes gone in the game as Leeman beat an overpursuing LR defense on a reverse, gaining the outside for a 81-yard touchdown sprint.

Just when it appeared the Rangers would run the Lakers off the field before the first quarter ended, the hometown rebounded as senior back James Anderson exploded through a hole and found daylight up the middle, bolting past Greely safeties Nick Maynard and Hodge for a 63-yard touchdown run. Kyle Stevens’ point-after run fell just short.

Before LR fans could say, “We’re right back in the game,” Leeman silenced the home crowd. He sprinted out right, caught a quick toss from Hodge, slipped one tackler and zipped for a 65-yard TD.

Late in the quarter, Greely senior lineman Christian Pisini blocked Cody Gibbons’ punt try, setting up the Rangers at the LR-36. Leeman moved the ball 18 yards, but the Laker defense brought some heat to force two errant passes. Ranger junior kicker Pat Finnegan nailed a 33-yard field goal for a 23-6 lead with 3:37 left. Finnegan had a big night, converting on 6-of-7 extra point tries.

Leeman was an offensive juggernaut, but Laker James Anderson was the best overall player on the field Friday night. He made big plays for the LR offense with 108 yards rushing, and was a force on the defensive side with eight tackles, including two solo stops of Leeman for losses.

With Greely inside the LR-10 at the start of the second quarter, Anderson listened to his defensive coach and shadowed Leeman over the middle. Hodge tried to dump a pass to Leeman, but instead, Anderson snagged the toss, broke left and raced 96 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Gibbons added the point-after run, and suddenly Lake Region was back in the game, down 23-14.

Leeman again stole the Lakers’ thunder. On a short squib kick, Leeman found a seam on the left side and returned the ball 64 yards for a score.

Lake Region would not threaten again.

Following a LR turnover, the Rangers scored on a 33-yard TD pass from Hodge to Svenn Jacobson, and tacked on another touchdown with 1:17 left in the half as Jacobson picked off LR quarterback Ryan Skillern and returned the ball 60 yards for another score.

At the half, Greely 44, Lake Region 14.

The final 24 minutes were simply window dressing and stat padding.

Leeman finished his night with a 70-yard run with 4:35 left in the third quarter.

Lake Region capped a 61-yard, seven-play drive with 1:22 left in the third with Gibbons leaping over the front wall for a 1-yard score. Key plays in the drive were Gibbons bursting loose for a 28-yard gain on third down, and Anderson barreling ahead for 15 yards. Stevens added the two-point PAT run.

Jacobson closed out the scoring for Greely with a 48-yard TD run behind a nice kick-out block around the corner from Finnegan with 11:47 left in the game.

The Lakers used up the final 4:49 with a nine-play drive by the second unit as Jacob Anderson picked up 32 yards. The drive ended at the GR-14 as time expired.

Up next: It’s Homecoming Week and the Lakers draw a very tough match this Friday night at Art Kilborn Athletic Complex with Cape Elizabeth coming to town. The Capers (1-1) beat York 28-17 last week after losing the season opener to Wells 14-6. Game time is 7 p.m.

“They’re real big and physical. We’re going to have our hands full,” Coach Simmons said. “Our kids need to be ready to play. I know the kids are frustrated. They want to succeed. They keep coming out and giving it their best because they love football.”

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