Leechburg earns 400th win and could record first winning season since 1991

Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 5:30 PM

Friday night was an important night for Leechburg football.

Thirty-seven years after the program earned its 300th win, the Blue Devils earned No. 400 and did so in a big way.

Sophomore running back Braylan Lovelace ran for 397 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries as the Blue Devils put up a school-record 76 points in a Class A Eastern Conference win over Riverview. Leechburg’s previous high was 62 points, set in 1950 against Blairsville.

Additionally, in his first year at the helm, coach Randy Walters is in position to lead the Blue Devils to their first winning season since 1991, when they went 5-4-1.

On a monumental night, which included celebrating the team’s three seniors, Walters gave all the credit to his players for putting together one of the season’s best performances.

“The young boy (Lovelace) went off, and everybody played really well,” Walters said. “We had a lot of things on film that I haven’t seen all year. We had receivers down field blocking their tails off, and that’s where you get those big runs. We did a lot of good things. We really did.”

The Blue Devils earned win No. 300 by defeating Springdale, 21-3, in 1983, and the program has been up and down since. Before Friday’s game, Walters delivered a message to his young team in hopes it would go out and embrace a unique opportunity.

“I told the guys before the game that you only get a few opportunities in your life to do special things, and no one can take that away from them now,” Walters said. “They got the program’s 400th win. There’s only one team that hit that mark. It was awesome.”

When Walters took over in March, the main goal he had was to get the Blue Devils back to the playoffs, where they haven’t been since 1989. In an effort to motivate his players, he plastered “1989” everywhere.

After three losses in the first four games, that goal was out of reach, so the team shifted its focus to having winning season for the first time in 29 years.

The Blue Devils (3-3) head to Wilkinsburg on Friday to take on Imani Christian, which has won only one game this season. Although his team came up short of its ultimate goal, Walters said a win Friday would be a step in the right direction for the program.

“It (a win) would give us an opportunity to sit back and say we are on the right track,” Walters said. “With this team in particular, it would give me a lot of encouragement for going forward because we are so young. We only have three seniors.

“We get a lot of guys back, even though the guys we lose are important to us. But we get a lot of guys back, and we’re trying to get people involved in the program. Kids these days want to get involved with things that are trending upwards, so, hopefully, we can get some more kids involved.”

Not only did the Blue Devils put themselves in the history books, but they also showcased what the future of the program could look like with Lovelace in the backfield. The 6-foot-2 running back had touchdown runs of 58, 95, 86 and 15 yards, and Walters can’t wait to see how he matures over the next two seasons.

“He’s a talented kid, and I still look at him like a baby deer,” Walters said. “He’s long. He can run, and when that kid really starts to understand how good he is, how athletic he is and how free he can run, I think the sky is limit. He’s an unbelievable kid, and he’s an unbelievable worker.

“He’s got a lot going for him, and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow over the next few years.”

The Blue Devils will play Imani Christian at Graham Field in Wilkinsburg on Friday at 7 p.m.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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