Blue Devils’ Leko excited for one last prep football opportunity

LISBON- Entering the 2012 football season, gaining 1,000 yards rushing was the furthest thing from Lisbon running back Zak Leko’s mind. The senior had won two games combined in his first three seasons, and his main concern was to help with the Blue Devils’ rebuilding effort.

“To be honest, I really wasn’t thinking about individual goals when the season started,” Leko said. “I just wanted to win some football games.”

Along the way however, the rushing yardage began piling up, and by the end of the season, Leko had joined backfield mate Brandon Barnes in eclipsing the 1,000-yard barrier.

“Everything this past year went so fast,” Leko said. “It was just a fun season overall, I was happy Brandon and I got 1,000 yards and I’m glad we were able to compete hard.”

Leko and the Devils started out with a bang, downing rival Leetonia 37-14 in the season opener for their first win over the Bears in five seasons. However, in week three against Wellsville, Leko went down with a concussion, putting his 1,000-yard chances in jeopardy.

“It was tough to go down and miss time like that,” Leko said. “Fortunately that was my only real injury of the year.”

After sitting out the fourth game of the year against Crestview, Leko returned in week five to help lead the Blue Devils to a win over Jackson-Milton, ensuring the program’s first multiple-win season in five years. As the weeks went by, Leko continued piling up strong performances, inching closer and closer to 1,000 yards.

“As we got towards the end of the season I started noticing how close I was,” Leko said. “I couldn’t help but aim for it then.”

Entering the last game of the regular season, a senior night matchup with East Palestine, Leko needed 131 yards to crack 1,000. After a slow start, Leko came on strong in the second half, hitting the magic number on Lisbon’s final drive of the game.

“I wish I could just go back and do everything over again,” Leko said. “Not only my senior year, but all four years. It was a blast, something I’ll never forget.”

However, Leko still has one final game in his high school career. On Friday he will take the field for the Ohio All-Stars for the 34th annual Penn-Ohio Stateline Classic at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa. The significance of the opportunity is not lost on Leko.

“It’s truly an honor,” Leko said. “To be able to represent Lisbon High School on that field and play in this game is something I’m excited about.”