Head coach Tim Smith took over a Leander Lion football team that went winless in 2014. It only took two games for Smith to earn a victory, as Leander knocked off Pflugerville this past week, 33-21. The Lions face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs in 2015, but the signs of improvement under Smith are easily recognizable through just two weeks in the season.
The problem for Leander is that district 25-5A is the SEC of central Texas football. Cedar Park is ranked first in the state. Vandegrift is the defending champions and also a top-10 team. Vista Ridge knocked off LBJ this weekend and should be a lock for a playoff spot. That leaves just one spot left up for grabs for teams like Leander, Dripping Springs, Georgetown and East View.
The Lions have one more non-district game to prepare for that gauntlet. Leander hosts fellow Leander ISD team, Rouse, this weekend. The Raiders are the lone Class 6A program in five-school LISD, and they’re coming off a loss to Cedar Park. The game was much closer than the final score indicated, as Rouse entered halftime with a lead over the Timberwolves. It’ll be a strong test for Leander, but one that will help Leander prepare for district play.
It was the defense and special teams unit that propelled Leander to its first victory. The Lions created six turnovers and hit four field goals in the victory over Pflugerville. That formula needs to continue for a Leander team that isn’t as talented as the rest of the teams on the schedule except for Marble Falls. Smith’s team will need to win the turnover battle, play well on special teams and control the clock offensively to stay in games.
No matter how the season turns out, Leander took a great step forward this week and the players no longer have to worry about the losing streak that hung over their heads all offseason. It was just one win, but it was an important win for the program, the coach, the players and the community.