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Sep. 15—MONETTA — Remedee Leaphart couldn't lie — he was nervous.
Ridge Spring-Monetta's senior quarterback has played — and succeeded — on some of the biggest stages in Class A football, and he made a name for himself as a sophomore as one of the area's most dynamic playmakers.
But now his number had been called to play defense.
It was just for a play, as head coach Brian Smith suspected that Lewisville would try to score in the closing seconds of the first half of Friday night's game — he had seen a tweet from the Chester News & Reporter that the Lions had scored a touchdown in the final minute of the first half in all three games so far this season, and he figured they'd try to make it four if given the opportunity.
Leaphart found Bret Smith for a touchdown to cut Lewisville's lead to 34-24, and the Lions had the ball back with under 20 seconds to play.
They weren't exactly in Hail Mary range, but Smith had a hunch. Leaphart went into the game and was deep in the defensive backfield when suddenly the ball came his way. He was shocked it was even being thrown, much less right at him, but knew he had to make the catch.
He snagged it for the interception, then tiptoed down the sideline behind his blockers for a 47-yard touchdown. That made it 34-32 and was the turning point in the Trojans' 58-50 victory. Leaphart scored six total touchdowns, and for that he's the Aiken Standard Player of the Week.
"He made a heck of a play. The thing is, on the film, he's running down the sideline and I'm like, 'Get out of bounds, we can throw it in the end zone,'" Smith said with a laugh. He just kind of maneuvered his way in."
Leaphart passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 39 yards (he would've been credited with about 20 more if not for sacks, Smith estimated) and two more scores, plus the game-changing pick-six. Additionally, he passed for three two-point conversions.
That performance had Smith saying Wednesday that Leaphart is back to the form he displayed as a sophomore, when he guided the Trojans to the Class A state championship game.
"I'm loving it right now," said Leaphart, who has a loaded group of skill-position players around him who can score any time he throws them the ball. "We were young last year. Now we're finally getting to know the game and stuff, and learning how to play with each other. It's a great feeling, honestly."
Then there's also the ability he has to make plays with his legs. He showed patience on his touchdown runs, much like on that interception return, and he followed his blockers and waited to find an opening rather than trying to force himself to make a tough play.
"During the summer we worked on that the whole time, just being patient and letting it come to you," he explained. "Just follow the block, wait, slow up a little bit. Last year I was rushing a lot of stuff and just playing bad, but this year I'm trying to take it a little slower and just learn the game and go through my reads."
The win over Lewisville has the Trojans at 2-1 heading into Region 3-A play, and Leaphart said he and his teammates are feeling confident as the league schedule begins. A performance like Friday's certainly helps, as Leaphart did the kind of things — hit his check-downs or throw the ball away if needed, choose the right times to be selfish and run — that Smith said during the summer that he'd need to improve on for the Trojans to be successful.
So far, so good.
"I really was proud of him for everything he did," Smith said. "One of the things I thought he did well was he really took care of the football. He had to step up sometimes and dump a couple to the backs. Bret caught one when he was about to go down and just threw it to Bret, saw him out of the corner of his eye, I guess, and made a great play with. He found ways to maneuver the game."