Leechburg ends three-season losing skid against Imani Christian

Friday, October 11, 2019 | 10:21 PM

Prior to Friday night’s game at Veterans Memorial Stadium, there wasn’t a player on the Leechburg football team who had experienced a victory against Imani Christian. Now, every Blue Devil knows how it feels.

Leechburg (3-6, 2-3) settled its 3-year-old score with the Saints (0-8, 0-6) after toppling its WPIAL Class A Eastern Conference foe 31-6. The Blue Devils did so behind strong line play, a consistent rushing attack and a disruptive defensive front.

“It feels good. I’m very happy for the boys,” coach Mark George said. “We didn’t play our best ball last week, but we came back, fought the whole game and we made plays on both sides of the ball.

“Its high school ball. Sometimes teams are up, and sometimes they’re down in a given year. We know that. But we executed in all phases, and it was great to get the win this way. We wanted to hit them, and we wanted to go straight at them.”

It was running back Jake Blumer who led the way on offense as the senior totaled 173 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. All his scores came in the first half.

The Blue Devils racked up 276 yards on the ground. Freshman Braylan Lovelace tacked on 40 rushing yards, and fullback Dalton Hamm ran for 18 yards and a touchdown on five carries.

Defensively, Leechburg wreaked havoc in the Imani backfield. The Blue Devils finished with seven sacks. Eli Rich recorded three sacks and two other tackles for loss. John Wagner and Hamm, a two-way starter, had two sacks each.

Meanwhile, the Blue Devils defensive backs benefited from the pressure created by their defensive linemen as Anthony Mangee and Lovelace had an interception each.

“Our defensive line was strong, and it’s been strong all year long,” George said. “Our kids are just tough to block. They get off the ball. They stay low and centered, and they have great technique. Our linebackers were banging tonight, and our secondary was as good as it can get.”

Imani Christian scored on the game’s first play from scrimmage: an 80-yard touchdown pass from Malik Shannon to Pharoh Fisher. But the Saints were bottled up by the stingy Leechburg defense the rest of the way and struggled to gain momentum on offense.

“We got to get better,” Imani Christian coach Ronnell Heard said. “We just have to make plays, and we have to make tackles. We have to get better. If you watch the game, you see flashes of greatness. There’s a lot of talent on this team. They’re just young.

“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing, and we’ll continue working at it and they will get better. We’ll work hard, and we won’t be down for long.”

Shannon finished the game 9 of 23 passing for 158 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Fisher led all receivers with four catches for 128 yards and a score.

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