Even as a sophomore, Austin Leyman said he isn’t afraid to stand up and address his team.
He’s the quarterback.
And, as Leyman sees it, that’s part of the job — and it was part of his role in his St. Augustine football team’s 28-12 win over St. Joseph on Saturday.
“At halftime, I just [told my teammates] that we can’t be complacent, that we have to keep working, and that’s what we did,” he said.
Leyman threw just one pass in that game — it was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted.
But that didn’t speak to his impact on the game. It did, however, hint at his team’s upside.
St. Augustine started this season 0-2. But everywhere there is potential, everywhere there are athletes still rising as football players.
And that’s particularly evident in the team’s sophomore starting quarterback.
“I trust him, that’s what I can say about him. He reads the field really well — he’s a smart kid — and I trust him,” said head coach Pete Lancetta, who said he had no qualms about throwing Leyman into the role as a sophomore.
After an 0-2 start Lancetta, in his third season as the head coach of a Hermits program not used to losing, said his biggest concern was how his players would react — whether they would let the season get away from them or rally around one another.
“We’re young all over the field — there are times when we have five sophomores on the field,” Lancetta said. “But we came out [last week against St. Joe] and we played with energy. We’ve been getting after it in practice. These kids responded well. They never stopped working and they never stopped believing.”
That’s in no small part due to the steadying presence of Leyman. He clearly has poise, a strong arm, and at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds he looks the part.
The biggest reason he wasn’t throwing on Saturday was because of a dominant effort by running backs Nasir Hill and Franklin Simms, along with tackle Isaiah Raikes. Hill and Simms are sophomores — a further sign of how far this team can still go — and Raikes is a 6-1, 300-pound senior and Texas A&M recruit.
Leyman is also dangerous with his legs and ran for 38 yards and a touchdown on eight carries against St. Joseph, including several big runs as the Hermits built momentum in the first half.
And it’s not as if he hasn’t flashed a big arm this season — including a 54-yard touchdown pas to Hill in a loss to Lenape on Sept. 13. The sophomore-to-sophomore connection was just another sign of what the team is capable of.
Leyman said he has played quarterback since he was 7 years old. He’s always been an athlete, but he spent this offseason trying to perfect his craft.
“I’ve been able to run my whole life — this offseason I really worked on my passing,” Leyman said. “This offseason was the hardest I’ve ever worked.”
Leyman loves the game and quarterback suits him, he said.
“I love having the control — I love being able to go out there and just play,” he said. “It’s not the attention that I love, but the pressure. Pressure either breaks people or builds them up. And that’s what I love about it.”
So far, he has proven tough to break. And things look destined to get better from here — a great sign for Leyman and the team he’s leading.