Leake Academy celebrates first state football title
Leake Academy fans have an extra reason to celebrate during the Thanksgiving holidays after the football team captured its first state championship last Thursday night.
The Rebels defeated Adams County Christian School 10-0 in the MISA Class 5A state championship game. They finished 13-0.
Coach Brian Pickens used an old cliché following the game but it really summed up the championship victory.
“Defense wins championships,” Pickens said in a postgame interview.
Throughout the Rebels’ regular season schedule, Leake Academy ended up averaging 38 points per game while allowing an average of 18 points.
“Our defense has really been playing well throughout the playoffs,” Pickens said. “Against Adams, our defense really brought it. Adams had the fast running back and good size. I thought our kids were very solid and played very physical football. We really went to the football and stopped everything they tried.
This is the first football championship for Leake Academy. Sith the numbers of players coming back, it may not be the last one.
“A lot of times, you win a state championship with a big senior group, and our seniors did a great job,” Pickens said. “This year’s team was a mix of every class. We had seniors, we had juniors, and we had a good many sophomores playing. Our quarterback was a sophomore.
“It took a lot of work to get there. But when you get there and win it, it is a huge accomplishment for your team,” Pickens said.
Pickens said one key to this team’s success was the way they approached each game.
“They enjoyed the game time situation,” Pickens said. “A lot of kids get nervous on game night. I have had teams that practiced well and were nervous going onto the field. But this group never let it get to them. They enjoyed playing and making plays. That was the way it was as we went through the regular season and then the playoffs.
“When you get into the state championship game, you have to realize it is different. Every day, I told the kids it was going to be different, and it was mainly your pregame stuff, how you do things. But they handled the pressure well.”
Pickens said the Rebels will take a break and enjoy Thanksgiving. But come Monday, they will be back in school and will start the offseason weight program.
“Everybody will get a little rest,” Pickens said. “But the big thing, we will do things like we do every year. We’ll go back to the weight room and start getting ready for next year.”