John Lesser wasn’t focused on breaking the state eight-man career rushing record or the eight-man record for career all-purpose touchdowns.
He wanted his top-ranked and unbeaten Liberty Christian to win the game.
“Him and I were texting throughout the day and I was telling him to stay relaxed and don’t force the issue, he’ll get there,” Liberty Christian coach Craig Lukins said. “He texts me back and says, ‘It doesn’t matter whether I get the record or not. It’s what we do as a team and if we get the win. I could get negative-1 yards, but as long as we win, I’ll be OK.’ ”
Well, the Patriots got the win, 84-30, over Colton on Friday, and Lesser broke the records before halftime — he needed 89 yards and finished with 30 carries for 359 yards and five touchdowns to push his career rushing total to 7,809 yards.
He cruised past the Class 1B career state rushing record that former Tri-Cities Prep standout Joe Campbell (7,539 yards from 2003-2006) had held for nine years.
Timberline graduate and current Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart holds the 11-man record at 7,755 career yards from 2001-2004.
Only Lesser plays quarterback. He was a running back for his first two seasons, but switched to quarterback for the past two years. He has 1,086 passing yards this season, and Friday he surpassed Campbell’s 125 career all-purpose touchdowns. Lesser has 131.
Liberty Christian athletic director Rick Godwin arranged for Campbell to be at Friday’s game, and he and Lesser posed for a picture together.
Lesser broke the career rushing record on an 8-yard quarterback sneak to the left, and Lukins called a timeout to allow him to get a standing ovation and hugs from his parents. The timeout lasted a couple of minutes before Liberty Christian continued its drive.
As a freshman, Lesser scored the winning touchdown for Liberty Christian in the 2012 1B state championship game against Neah Bay. He took a pitch and was tackled into the end zone on the final play.
Lukins said that’s when the career-rushing record began to take shape.
“That was kind of the springboard of it all,” the coach said. “It was then that he (Lesser) was like, ‘I want to go for this record.’ ”
Here’s how some of the area’s bigger leagues are looking after eight weeks:
Gig Harbor, Bellarmine Prep have locked up two of the three district playoff spots from the league, but Bellarmine (6-2, 4-1 4A Narrows) can snatch the league title from unbeaten Gig Harbor (8-0, 5-0) with a win Friday at Roy Anderson Field.
Olympia, as of now, has the third seed but could lose it if Yelm can beat the Bears this week. There would be a three-way tie at 3-3 for that third spot if Timberline also beats South Kitsap.
4A SPSL Northeast
Kentwood clinched the league title previously, but Kentlake’s 36-21 win over Kentwood on Friday took the Falcons from out of the playoff picture to the No. 2 seed.
Kentlake, Tahoma and Kent-Meridian all went 2-2 in league play, but Kentlake is No. 2 because of power points (it’s the only league team to have beaten Kentwood) and Tahoma is the No. 3 because it beat Kent-Meridian, 41-35, on Oct. 9.
4A SPSL Northwest
Thomas Jefferson clinched its first outright league title since 1980 with a win Thursday over Decatur. Todd Beamer clinched the No. 2 seed with its first win over Federal Way in school history (it opened in 2003). Federal Way is the third seed, despite being ravaged by injuries and starting the season 0-4.
That means Beamer will play at Kentwood this week, Kentlake plays at Thomas Jefferson and Federal Way at Tahoma (elimination game) for seeding to the district playoffs.
4A SPSL South
No. 4 Graham-Kapowsin (7-0, 5-0 4A SPSL South) faces Bethel (6-2, 4-1) for the league title. The South gets three seeds to the district playoffs, with Curtis holding a half-game lead on Puyallup for the final spot (Puyallup plays Rogers at Sparks Stadium).
If Bethel beats G-K and Puyallup beats Curtis, then Bethel, G-K and Puyallup make the district playoffs because Puyallup beat Curtis earlier in the season. All other scenarios would leave Puyallup out.
No. 3 Lincoln (8-0, 6-0 3A Narrows) clinched the league title, with Wilson (4-4, 4-2), Central Kitsap (4-4, 4-2) and Shelton (5-3, 4-2) in a three-way tie for the final three spots to the district playoffs.
Wilson hosts Central Kitsap at Lincoln Bowl this coming Friday. If Wilson wins and Capital beats Shelton, there would be a three-way tie for two of the league’s final three playoff berths.
No. 4 Sumner (8-0, 6-0 3A SPSL) clinched the league title Friday, but the next three spots to the district playoffs are up for grabs among Auburn Mountainview (6-2, 4-2), Lakes (6-2, 4-2), Bonney Lake (4-4, 3-3) and Peninsula (4-4, 3-3).
Bonney Lake hosts Peninsula this Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner. It was 2005 when the Seahawks, the league’s three-time reigning champs, last didn’t make the playoffs.
River Ridge (8-0, 6-0 2A SPSL) is the top seed. The remaining three seeds would, as of this week, go to Fife (6-2, 4-2), Steilacoom (4-4, 4-2) and Franklin Pierce (4-4, 4-2).
But the Cardinals face Franklin Pierce School District rival Washington (4-4, 3-3) on Friday at Franklin Pierce Stadium. And Steilacoom heads to River Ridge on Thursday and Fife hosts Clover Park on Friday.
Cascade Christian, Charles Wright and Bellevue Christian will take the league’s three spots to districts with Vashon Island the lone team out.
But Bellevue Christian can force a three-way tie for the top seed if it can hand Cascade Christian (6-1; 2-0 1A Nisqually) its first league loss Friday.
Unbeaten North Beach has the top seed clinched — as well as a bye past the district round into the state tournament — with its victory over Life Christian on Friday.
That means Raymond takes over the No. 2 seed, Life Christian is third, Ilwaco fourth and Rainier and South Bend are tied for the fifth seed, though Rainier owns the tiebreaker because of its win over South Bend the first game of the season.
SOUTH SOUND LEADERS
Based on available stats through Saturday:
1. Amandre Williams
2. Willie Patterson
3. Gresch Jensen
4. Davis Alexander
5. Daylon Matthews
1. Bryce Hoisington
2. Tariq Ellis
3. Jamon Chambers
4. Kenneth Turner
5. Ahmad Lewis
1. Tyler Torgerson
2. Elijah McLeod
3. Emmanuel Daigbe
4. Marques Hampton Jr.
5. Kyle Olson-Urbon