Lyons Township High School junior running back Leonard Ross has been racking up yards in record-breaking fashion for the Lions this season. The talented junior, already drawing recruiting interest from several Division I football programs, will need to continue his high level of performance if LTHS hopes to make its customary late season push into the state playoffs.
Ross broke the single game rushing record at LTHS by piling up 245 yards in the Lions’ victory over Leyden on Sept. 13. While the Lions feature an impressive aerial attack with junior quarterback Tommy Fielder and wide receivers Marcell Kellum, Matt Mrazek and Connor Pavletic, Ross will be the center of attention offensively, particularly as the weather turns colder and the postseason draws closer. Although the Lions got off to a sluggish 1-3 start, a huge 17-10 victory at Downers Grove North last week has put them back in the hunt for the playoffs. The Lions are 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the West Suburban Silver.
“We had a slow start, and we’ve had a rough schedule,” he said. “I think we’re going to win our upcoming games. I have trust and faith in our team. I know we can do it.”
Ross started playing football in fifth grade initially as a tight end. His passion for the game really picked up when he switched to running back in the eighth grade.
“Before I played football, I used to watch it all the time and imagine myself on the field,” Ross said. “Once I was finally on the field, I instantly clicked into the game. When I started playing running back, I liked the game even more because I knew I was pretty good at it.”
Along with his teammates on the offensive side of the ball, Ross has made a concentrated effort to improve on reading the assorted looks of a defense.
“Everyone has been working really hard,” he said. “Our receivers know how to read the defense better, and I know how to read the defense better than I used to so that I can make a play. I think we’re going to be successful from here on out.”
LTHS head coach Kurt Weinberg believes Ross is a primary key to the Lions’ offense and has many attributes which make him an impact player.
“A lot of what we do on offense is built on his ability to run,” Weinberg said. “He’s just fun to watch. He’s so quick and he’s great at protecting the football.”
Ross has gotten over 100 recruiting letters with Indiana and Northwestern showing the most interest. Ross’ college decision can wait for now, as the talented running back prefers to soak in his senior campaign with teammates
“It’s great bonding with the team, it’s a great family,” he said. “I love our school, I love the sport and I love our fans.”
Ross believes there’s nothing quite like Friday night home games in front of a packed house at Bennett Field.
“The best thing about football is the fans,” he said. “The Friday night lights and all of that stuff are just beautiful. When I score a touchdown and I look up at the crowd, they’re going crazy. When little kids come up and ask me for an autograph after the game, it’s an amazing feeling.”
The Lions visit conference rival Hinsdale Central on Saturday (12 p.m.).