Aquinas football runs through the Leonard family

By: Andrew Schnitker Email
By: Andrew Schnitker Email

Dec. 3, 2013 Whether the game ends in a win or a loss, there's something that never leaves Aquinas coach James Leonard's side.

"It's been washed a few times, so i had to laminate it. It's always in my pants pocket, or my jacket pocket every night," Leonard said.

The youngest head coach in Georgia High School football has quite a bit of old school in his blood and in his pocket.

A picture of his grandfather, Denny Leonard, the first head coach of Aquinas football, stays on the Irish sideline. James has kept the picture in his pocket for every Aquinas football game over the last five years.

"It definitely makes me feel comfortable having it with me. I wouldn't say it was lucky because we've had a couple of losses in the last four or five years, but it's nice to have it with me and know it's there," Coach Leonard said.

Don't call it a four leaf clover, partly because the undefeated Irish don't need a lot of luck this season.

They have toughness and talent-- something that runs deep in the Leonard's blood.

"I think he got up in their grills just like I get up in their grills nowadays so I think we had a lot in common," Leonard said.

"He's pretty intense," quarterback Liam Welch said. "He's a lot of fun, but he's a really good coach."

It's been a year of firsts for the first-year head coach.

Aquinas completed it's first undefeated regular season.This week, it's their first trip to the GHSA-A private state semifinals.

Whether or not this season ends with the school's first football state championship. Coach Denny Leonard will be there every step of the way.

"I had just started playing football when (my grandfather) passed away," Leonard said. "We didn't talk about football a whole lot. It's kind of cool to have a little piece of him with me."

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