Besides those in Platt’s inner circle it’s unlikely that many have heard of Tyzhan Leatherwood before this season.
They certainly know who he is now.
Leatherwood, a 5-foot-6, 165 pound junior, is in the midst of a breakthrough year. He’s rushed 88 times for 1,206 yards and 18 touchdowns through five games for the unbeaten Panthers.
Playing behind coaches all-state selection Justin Potts last season, who rushed for 1,891 yards and 28 touchdowns, Leatherwood was used mainly on two-point conversions and as a wide receiver. Leatherwood did carry 42 times for 376 yards and three scores; solid numbers, but nothing that would suggest the type of season Leatherwood has produced so far this season.
Leatherwood rushed for a school-record 353 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-14 win over previously unbeaten Rocky Hill this past. Leatherwood broke the previous record of 299 yards set by Mike Shorter in 2004. He’s run for more than 200 yards on three other occasions this year.
“It’s surprised me to the extent of what he’s doing,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “I knew he would be good, but I didn’t think he would be this good.”
Leatherwood has the good fortune of running behind a talented and veteran offensive line, anchored by senior tackle Erlin Colon (6-4, 300).
“The offense line is good,” Bruenn said. “He’s (Leatherwood) the first one to tell you that. He always says he couldn’t do it without the offensive line.”
Despite Leatherwood’s size, Bruenn says Leatherwood is a power runner who doesn’t have to rely on shifty moves to be successful.
“He’s not big on putting fancy moves on you,” Bruenn said. “He just lowers his shoulder and gets what he can get. He hits the hole so hard and so fast, and he can get lost behind the offensive line, find a hole and power through it.”
Bruenn says Leatherwood runs a legit 4.5 (seconds) in the 40-yard dash and has benefitted from running track.
“He’s fast,” Bruenn said. “He has it all (both power and speed).”
Bruenn said Leatherwood attended camps at the University of New Haven and at Southern Conn. State but has yet to generate any major interest from college recruiters.
Eight starters returned on offense this year, including quarterback Andrew McBride, who piloted the Panthers to the Class L quarterfinals last season. Although Leatherwood has accounted for a majority of Platt’s offensive production, Bruenn has been pleased with McBride’s performance.
“He (McBride) is doing well,” Bruenn said. “He hasn’t had the chance to throw the ball much but he also gets involved in the running aspect of our game.”
The Panthers use a one-back formation with a tight end and with McBride mainly under center.
Platt is averaging 40 points per game. The Panthers will attempt to stay unbeaten when they visit Bloomfield (4-1) on Friday.
“We knew we had a lot of kids coming back, especially on offense” Bruenn said. “We had high expectations, we knew we could be competitive and we demanded a lot from our kids.”
If not for a Hail Mary touchdown pass in the closing seconds against St. Joseph on Sept. 20, Fairfield Prep would be unbeaten. St. Joseph has yet to lose. The Jesuits’ three victories prior to this past week, though, were against teams that currently have losing records.
So Fairfield Prep was presented with quite the challenge when it visited Finn Stadium last Friday to take on unbeaten Shelton. A potent running game, led by quarterback Colton Smith, and a stingy defense allowed the Jesuits to hold off the Gaels 38-28.
“This (Shelton) was a very, very important game for us,” Fairfield Prep senior linebacker Nick Crowle said. “We needed this one. This was our statement game. We came out and we made it.”
It certainly was an important victory for Fairfield Prep. The Jesuits won their SCC Division I West opener and it helped launch them into the Register Top 10 Poll (at No. 8) for the first time this season. It also put Fairfield Prep it good position as it embarks on the second half of the season.
The Jesuits have a competitive schedule to conclude the season, beginning on Friday at Hand (4-1). Fairfield Prep then has games at home against Cheshire and Amity, at Hamden, and home against Xavier (4-1) and West Haven (4-1).
The Jesuits have the talent to vie for a state playoff berth. Fairfield Prep is currently ranked 10th in the Class LL playoff ratings. The top eight teams qualify for the quarterfinals.
Smith has done an effective job directing the offense. He has completed 35 of 56 passes (62.5 percent) for 465 yards and four touchdowns against just one interception. He also leads the team with 417 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Junior wide receiver John DelliSanti has made a team-high 16 catches for 204 yards and four scores and has rushed for three touchdowns.
Defensively, the Jesuits have made nine sacks and seven interceptions. Senior Max Trudeau leads the team with 41 tackles and four sacks. Crowle has made 36 tackles and has recovered one fumble.
Crowle and his teammates have high expectations for the remainder of the season.
“We have the talent, we have the size, we have the strength,” Crowle said. “We just have to come out and execute and we can beat anyone.”
There’s a strong possibility that Ansonia senior running back will set the state record for career rushing yards against Masuk on Thursday.
Newsome needs just 291 yards to break the state record for career rushing yards, currently held by former Ansonia standout Alex Thomas, who finished his career with 8,279 yards.
Newsome has carried 690 times for 7,989 yards and 126 rushing touchdowns in his career. Newsome already owns the state record for total touchdowns (139) and points (860) in a career. He has season totals of 80 carries for 1,184 yards and 20 touchdowns entering the Masuk game.
Hillhouse senior running back Harold Cooper is also closing in on some career milestones.
Cooper needs 159 yards to surpass 6,000 yards in his career and 171 yards to pass former Bloomfield standout Andrew Pinnock into fifth place on the state’s all-time rushing list. Cooper has scored 83 touchdowns in his career.
The Academics travel to Sheehan on Thursday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.