- Feature Story
- Ron Brocato
- October 18, 2013 - 10:20am
Is it possible that the most sought after high school running back recruit in the U.S. may not make the Class 5A All-State team?
The annual mythical best in state, chosen by nine chapter chairmen from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association is a numbers game. And entering the seventh week of the 2013 football season, the numbers for St. Augustine’s Leonard Fournette have fallen a bit short.
It is more likely, the LSWA voters will forego the figures for this senior standout who is the nation’s recruiting prize to the university that lands him.
Since his freshman season in 2010, Fournette has been statistically one of the top rushers in all Louisiana classes of football. But this year he ranks No. 4 among New Orleans area rushers, fifth among the state’s Class 5A ball-carriers and 24th overall in the Louisiana prep composite rushing stats.
The area leaders are Montel Williams (1,079 yards) of Slidell, Darrel Williams of John Ehret (1,073) and Christian Campbell of Ponchatoula (790). The No. 4 top Class 5A rusher is Acadiana’s Elijah Ledet with 841 yards.
Fournette has rushed for 759 yards on 94 carries and has six touchdowns for the 4-1 Purple Knights. He was the area leader and fourth most productive ball-carrier of 2012 with 1,553 yards and 24 touchdowns on 141 carries. By the time the Purple Knights were eliminated in the playoffs, he had totaled 2,136 yards and had 31 touchdowns.
His current numbers are misleading, considering that he has been called upon to do a myriad of functions on offense as his team’s leader. Aside for sharing rushing duties with sophomore brother Lanard Fournette, Leonard has ban used on to pass the ball from a wildcat formation at times, play as a slot back where he becomes as asset as a pass receiver, and spot play when deemed necessary on defense as a linebacker. He can even list punting and place-kicking experience on his resume.
Beginning on Saturday with a key District 9-5A game against the reigning Class 5A champion, Archbishop Rummel, Fournette has four regular season games to crack the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive year.
Is he the greatest running back in St. Augustine history?
As John Ehret has been known as “Quarterback Prep” for its string of great signal-callers over the years, St. Augustine has produced some of the finest running backs in the state.
How do they rank?
Fournette has proven himself to be the best running back for the lower Gentilly school since the great Leroy Hoard, a punishing back who starred for the University of Michigan and later Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. Hoard rushed for 1,211 yards as a senior in 1985.
In 1987 Tyrone Hughes’ versatility as a ball-carrier, pass catcher and return specialist landed him the Most Valuable Player among the state’s largest schools in his senior season. His numbers were all over the board: 736 yards rushing on 58 carries, 504 receiving yards on 16 catches, 364 yards on nine kickoff returns and 162 yards on 11 punt returns. Hughes checked out with 20 touchdowns that’s season.
These are the top three among a stable of great backs.
No. 4 is the speedy Harold “King” Solomon, who led the Knights to LIALO championships before the school joined the LHSAA in his senior season of 1967.
Benjarvis Green-Ellis’ statistics don’t rank among the school’s top backs, but this former Ole Miss standout was the key to the Purple Knights’ success in 2003. Today he runs for the Cincinnati Bengals, following a stint in New England.
Other notable backs since the Knights became members of the LHSAA are Sean Rhodes (1992), 1,460 yards, 20 touchdowns; Sean Jackson (1,071, 16 TDs; Michael Franklin (1999), 1,190 yards; Stanley Barre’ (1987) and Burnell
Quinn, the go-to back on the Purple Knights’ 1975 state champion team that went 15-0.
When an athlete can be mentioned among this select group, it will be difficult to justify leaving him off an All-State team. And Fournette may be the best of the lot.
In previous weeks Nolacatholicleague.com has listed the All-Catholic League teams of the league’s first five decades. Putting together a composite team to feature “the best of the best” is a monumental and slightly subjective task. But as objectively as possible, the following is The Team:
Quarterback – John Fourcade, Shaw.
Running backs – Chris Markey, Jesuit; Pat Screen, Jesuit; Leonard Fournette, St. Augustine.
Receiver – Marcus Quinn, St. Augustine.
Tight end – Billy Truax, Holy Cross.
Offensive line – Louis Oubre, St. Augustine; Byron Honore, St. Augustine; Steve Mott, Shaw; Corey Hilliard, Jesuit; Jarvis Reado, Shaw.
Placekicker – Malter Scobel, Shaw.
Def. linemen – Errol Linden, De La Salle; Percy Gibson, St. Augustine, Tyler Lafauci, De La Salle; Roland Barbay, Holy Cross.
Linebackers – Cameron Vaughn, Shaw; Olin Kropog, Rummel; Dal Chappell, Shaw.
Def. backs – Craig Steltz, Rummel; Chris Horton, De La Salle; Kenny Newfield, St. Aloysius.
Punter – Danny Hrapmann, Holy Cross.
Return specialist – Tyrone Hughes, St. Augustine
Athlete – Kenny Hrapmann, Holy Cross