By Bobby Barr
The upcoming football campaign finds the 2020 Leon Cougars facing some of the usual challenges a new season brings as well as a couple of unusual new ones. After dropping their first six contests of 2019, the 3-8 District 9-2A Cougs never quit or lost faith, won three district games in a row, and could have tied for the district championship in their last contest when they battled but eventually fell to district champ, Centerville, 30-22 to claim third seed. They lost to the officials in the season finale bi-district game versus Carlisle, 37-36, but were getting better as the season progressed. Although losing mainstays Harris Sherrod, Brock Beamer, and Curtis Stanford to graduation, Head Coach Jeremy Colvert is looking for big things from returning starters QB Jacob Robinson; WR Tito Gonzalez; and All Brazos Valley defensive back, Tyson Cornett. Reclassification has moved the Cougs from District 9-2A to their 6-team 2020-21 home, District 11-2A D1. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football has Alto, Groveton, and Grapeland in the top tier, with Centerville, Normangee, and Leon fighting for the last playoff seed. Realizing that the COVID pandemic makes preseason picking even dicier than usual this year, DCTB ranks the top three teams in 11-2A #14, #15, and #17, respectively, in state rankings.
With five starters on each side of the ball returning from a team that executed a mid-season rebound, Colvert likes the returning attitude as well as the new numbers. Forty-five players, including seventeen freshman, are out for football—ideal numbers for healthy varsity and junior varsity squads. With a plethora of rookies, teaching has been front burner since the first August 3 practice. In addition to three new faces on the coaching staff, the kids have a new COVID protocol to contend with. Coach Colvert has rearranged some facilities in such a way so that in most cases, the kids have an empty locker between them, and the school has provided gallons of hand sanitizer for locker/weight rooms. According to Colvert, his worries begin when the kids leave the school, when they’re more likely to encounter the virus from someone outside the Leon family. So he preaches masks/social distancing daily. The district has agreed on a 50% seating capacity, and as much as possible, if necessary, reserved for parents and family of the players. So in this first Season of COVID, like everyone else worldwide, the Cougs are trying to adjust to the “new normal”, a challenge Coach Colvert is certain Cougar Football Nation is up for. When reminded that Dave Campbell has the Cougs picked DAL, in District 11-2A, he grinned and insisted “that’s a challenge we welcome . . . the Cougars may surprise ole’ Dave this season.”