Knocking off 5A darling Westwood capped a great year for Leander. After once again starting the season 0-3 (with losses vs. Cedar Park, DeSoto and Converse Judson), the team cruised to a district title by regular season's end. And if not for a heartbreaking hail mary as time expired, there's no telling how far the Lions could have gone in the playoffs. Coach Clint Harper won 16-5A Coach of the Year for his job replacing Steve Gideon. The former QB coach has indeed stamped his personality on Leander Football. For complete recap of 2011 Leander team/individual stats, click here. Or visit the Lion official home online, here. Things can change of the course of seven months (between now and Zero Week), but this is Fanstand's 2012 projection for the Lions roster. OFFENSE: Senior QB Andres Barrera was probably 16-5A's MVP. It would have been hard for anyone to snatch the award from WW's Ben Johnson, but Barrera may have deserved it (over 1100 pass yards, 1300 rush yards, 25 TDs). We can only imagine the stats he would have produced if he were healthy the entire season. After 2010's QB flip flop, Barrera was the undisputed man behind center in 2011. Going into 2012, we forsee a similar situation. If someone besides Caleb Woodward is named starter, it will come as a shock to us. The junior looked ready to take over while filling in for an ailing Barrera. His 78% completion rate and 8 TDs are signs of monster year ahead. His 3-TD performances vs. Georgetown and McNeil were brilliant. His swagger is off the charts. And we expect an MVP-like season of production in his first year of full snaps. David Hilbun may be a name you haven't heard. We had to do some extra scouting to get the scoop on Caleb's potential #2. Hilbun played JV as a sophomore, but moved to Varsity as insurance. His sideline view of Barrera/Woodward will pay dividends if his number is called. With 4 different QBs getting Lion snaps from 2010-2011, David should remain prepared. Running back Dylan Bauer was the feel good story of 2011. Listed third on the depth chart, not much was expected of the talented junior. But when injuries claimed other runners, Dylan put his talents to use. He ended up as an all-district selection, while netting 620 rush yards/6 TDs. His 106 yard effort vs. a tough Stony Point defense proved he can do it against tough competiton. With a full year and 130 Varsity carries under his belt, he could have a great senior campaign. Don't sleep on super sophomore Christian Levy, though. He only received 20 touches, but took one to the house vs. Round Rock. There are big shoes to fill, as both Nicco Brown and Peyton Tilley graduate in Spring. Leander kept the ball on the ground last year, but Brown/Tilley ensured they had good options when needed. Tevin Smith(pictured) returns as our fave for #1 wideout. With nearly 200 yards receiving as a junior, he could triple those numbers if Woodward throws. Smith/Woodward have good off-field chemistry, which we feel will translate in production numbers. Expect Tevin to exceed expectations. There were be a mix of juniors/sophomores who will compete for playing time in 2012. Our advice: show the coaching staff that you can block downfield. Getting on the turf is key, and Woodward could turn someone into an unexpected star. The loss of Jacob Dunning to Iowa State is a big loss. That is why we project TJ Kawejsza to Jacob. TJ is an all-district stud who has Division I dreams. However, if Harper and Company stick with the status quo - it could be Bryan Resa's(pictured) time to shine. Bryan was Dunning's understudy in 2011, and could surprise with a breakout season. Matt Rincones will be missed, but there is a wealth of returning juniors: Hunter Arona, Jonathan Cox, Andrew Dandignat and Michael Beckwith. Leander's o-line could be one of the strongest units in the Austin-area. DEFENSE: You'll hear about Mike Epley(pictured) alot over the next two years. 16-5A's "Newcome of the Year" played like a season veteran in 2011. He led the Lions with 5 sacks, and approached the 50-tackle mark. He'll vy for a Defensive MVP during his junior campaign. Jacob Green will give offenses nowhere to hide. If they run away from Epley, Jacob's sure to clean up. His 78 stops and 2 sacks were impressive enough to earn him first team all-district honors. With Rude/Dodson/Johnson all graduating, we can't peg a favorite to start at nose guard. Terrance Johnson's 67 tackles/4 sacks aren't easily duplicated. But playing alongside Epley/Green will be an honor - sure to inspire a great season out of whomever steps up. On top of Epley/Green, may be an even more impressive tandem of linebackers. Hayden Newsome (pictured) on the inside, in a tackle machine. His 123 tackles in 2011 were a full 40 stops more than the next top tackler. And that next guy happens to be Taylor Sugar. His 80 stops and 3 fumble recoveries earned him all-district first team. With Sugar outside and Newsome controling the middle, this is a scary defense. We expect a pair of juniors to fill out the LB core. There's a chance Sugar switches to DB, but we'll discuss that soon. Depth could allow for the Sugar swich. Leo Quintana and Rick Carreon are already proven producers. Quintana had 75 tackles and 3 sacks last year. Carron had 47 tackles and 2 sacks. And he's a youngster, but the upside of sophomore Will Walden can't be denied. Its possible, with a strong off season program, Walden can start on Fridays soon. Obviously, Leander's LB unit has Fanstand's nod as the best going into 2012. The best Lions safety since Blake Gideon (much love to Colin Chapman), Mr. Martel Summers will be wearing #14 for Texas State next Fall. So who replaces the District Defensive MVP (78 tackles, 1 interception) in the backfield? Let's start with corner first, where Daryl Brooks is the man. Already sporting a college-ready frame, the 6 foot 175 pound junior is reportedly working harder than ever. Imaging a faster/stronger Brooks should make opposing wide receivers cringe. 2 picks/1 sack/50 tackles are numbers from 2011, that he'll eclipse in 2012. With Rountree/Ellison graduating, the other corner is up for grabs. Sophomore Greg Kelly was Summers back up in 2011, and could be ready for full time snaps this Fall. If Kelly can mature quickly, it would allow Sugar to man LB - and make this one of the strongest defenses in 5A. His Summer work ethic could be mean big things next year.
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