Leechburg incorporates Air Raid offense under 1st-year coach

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Saturday, September 5, 2020 | 11:02 PM


A new era is coming to Leechburg football, and new coach Randy Walters is ready to take the Blue Devils to new heights.

Since accepting the job in March, Walters has focused on the finer points of putting his stamp on the program. He and his coaching staff have revamped the locker room by painting players’ lockers, putting new nameplates on each one, and upgrading other parts of the locker room and stadium to give his new team a sense of pride.

“I’m always preaching about the little things,” Walters said. “To me, these are little things but these are big things for us because we need these things. You see all the names on the lockers and you won’t see rust on any handles. I painted every one.

“It’s just doing those little things, and we are going to do them here to show them what we’re going to do on the football field and we expect them to do that, too. We want them to understand if they do those little things and get some wins, things are going to change.”

Not only is Walters focusing on the finer points with his new football team, he’s also bringing an exciting change to Leechburg. After spending the past two seasons under Shawn Liotta at Burrell, Walters is installing the Air Raid offense at his new school, and he has a roster filled with athletes to run it.

Senior quarterback Dylan Cook returns for the Blue Devils after throwing for 949 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and he’s excited to be at the helm of a brand-new offense.

“Before I even met coach, whenever they wrote up the interview on him, the first words I saw were ‘Air Raid’ and my eyes lit up,” Cook said. “So, I’m pretty excited to get going.”

Cook’s infatuation with the offense didn’t just began this past summer either. He’s had an eye on it since last year when he started watching game highlights of Burrell’s Alex Arledge.

“I’m just a big football fan, so I love watching everybody in the WPIAL and one of my favorite guys to watch is Alex Arledge,” Cook said. “He’s got a great arm, probably the best in the WPIAL, and I watched his highlights after every game last year, and it just looked really exciting, the whole offense. So, whenever coach came here, I was really excited.”

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound quarterback will have a lot of weapons at his disposal as well. Braylon Lovelace returns for his sophomore season after rushing for 312 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman behind senior Jake Blumer, who tallied 161 carries for 979 yards. With the new style of offense, Lovelace is ready to take advantage of the opportunity to display his athletic ability all over the field.

“It’s really going to give me a chance to get outside and do my thing,” Lovelace said.

The Blue Devils also return tight end Eli Rich, who caught 12 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown in a run-heavy offense.

Rich won’t line up like a regular tight end, though. He’ll be spread out in the slot most of the time, forcing mismatches against defensive backs. Walters is hoping to take advantage of his 6-foot-5 frame in the passing game.

With the athletes in place and the new offense installed, the Blue Devils are excited for this season, and Walters enters his first season with high expectations.

“We’re not in this to get ties or to lose; we’re here to win,” Walters said. “I know they haven’t had a ton of success here in the past, but if you watch the film, they’ve had great football players, and there are things here or there where things could’ve gone the other way. We think we have a great group of guys, but I just wish I had 10 more of them.”

Schedule

Coach: Randy Walters

2019 record: 5-5, 3-3 in Class A Eastern Conference

All-time record: 397-510-38

Date, Opponent, Time

9.11, Greensburg C.C.*, 7

9.18, Clairton*, 7

9.25, at Springdale*, 7

10.2, Jeannette*, 7

10.10, at Bishop Canevin*#, 7

10.16, Riverview*, 7

10.23, at Imani Christian*, 7

*Class A Eastern Conference game

#At Dormont Stadium

Statistical leaders

Passing: Dylan Cook

60-140, 949 yards, 8 TDs

Receiving: Jake Blumer*

21-393 yards, 5 TDs

Rushing: Jake Blumer*

161-979 yards, 17 TDs

*Graduated

Fast facts

• After Southmoreland made the playoffs last season, the Blue Devils now own the longest playoff drought in the WPIAL. They haven’t made the postseason since 1988.

• Walters is coaching at Leechburg for the second time. He was an assistant under Ed Jenkins in 2006.

• For the past two seasons, the Blue Devils have produced a record of 5-5 and have just missed out on the playoffs.

• The Blue Devils won their final three games last season.

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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