Taking the reins: Leavitt looks to step for KeHS

By Katie Dorsey, Tri-City Herald August 31, 2011 

KENNEWICK -- In the dead of night, Bryce Leavitt might dream of juking out a defender on the football field or basketball court.

But the Kennewick High School senior probably isn't catching any "z's." He likely is wide awake, working under the moonlight to make those dreams a reality.

Leavitt, who aspires to play college basketball, likes to practice his shot at night. But after some noise complaints, his parents decided he couldn't play past 10 p.m.

That hasn't stopped the self-proclaimed gym rat from getting out there anyway.

"When I want to shoot, I go out and shoot really quietly," he said.

Leavitt averaged 16.7 points last season in leading the Kennewick boys basketball team to the CBBN 3A district playoffs, and his work ethic has carried over into football, while preparing for his new job as the Lions' starting quarterback.

Last season, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Leavitt started at wide receiver, played at defensive back and was a backup quarterback, getting a few snaps when Drew Loftus needed rest.

Loftus, last year's CBBN 3A MVP, has graduated and is playing college football at Hawaii. His talent is not lost on Leavitt, but the Lions' current signal caller isn't focused on trying to live up to his predecessor, either.

"I'm a different player than Drew, and I'm going to do my best to help our team win games," he said.

Lions coach Bill Templeton, a former Kennewick football player, can relate to Leavitt's situation. When Templeton became the coach at his alma mater, he was asked whether his style would be similar to the man who coached him, area legend Ed Troxel.

"People wanted to make comparisons, but I wanted to focus on doing my own thing," Templeton said. "We honor (Troxel), we honor Drew, but we have to do our own thing."

Senior running back Grant Woods doesn't think the learning curve will be too steep for Leavitt, who has sharpened his understanding of the game by being a Grid Kids referee.

"From what I know, he's the smartest player on the field," Woods said of Leavitt, who has a 3.6 grade-point average. "He takes reps not only as a quarterback, but as a receiver and safety. He knows how all the defense and offense works, and he knows how the game is played."

Leavitt ran the Lions' practice squad as a sophomore and junior, which helped build his confidence as a leader. He already was plenty mobile, but he needed to improve his throwing mechanics.

"I did a lot of weightlifting, and I threw almost every day," he said. "I went outside and threw a lot of routes to the receivers, who were working really hard this offseason as well."

Leavitt said Kennewick quarterbacks coach Lenny Ayres has been a great sounding board while settling into his new role.

"He's helped with my decision making in terms of reading coverages and when to throw the ball, when to run, to get better in my knowledge of being a quarterback," Leavitt said.

Now he will see how much he has absorbed in Friday night's season opener against Pendleton.

"The hardest part will be forgetting about the hype and the jitters," he said. "But our team is really focused, and we just want to win."

No matter the result, you can bet Leavitt will be out there first thing to work on his game.

Apologies to his neighbors.

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