The numbers leap off the page. Preposterous. Stratospheric.
Fifty-one carries for 474 yards and eight touchdowns. In one game. By one player — Batavia senior tailback Ray Leach. All state football playoff records.
In his last three games, Leach has racked up an astounding 1,235 yards and 22 touchdowns, each game topping his own record-setting mark. He topped 400 yards and scored eight touchdowns in each of his last two games, including last week’s wild 54-49 state semifinal victory over Skaneateles.
At 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, Leach blends power with speed and elusiveness that made him a first-team all-state running back in Class B the last two seasons.
“He’s just at another level,” said Batavia head coach Brennan Briggs, whose No. 1-ranked Blue Devils (12-0) face No. 2 Glens Falls (10-2) in Saturday’s Class B state championship game, set for noon at the Carrier Dome. “These are video-game numbers. His combination of size, speed, vision and strength is rare at the high school level. His field vision is amazing — if our line opens a little hole, he’ll find it.”
“I think his numbers speak for themselves the past couple of weeks,” Glens Falls head coach Pat Lilac said. “We watched a lot of film on him — he’s big, powerful, fast, good feet. He’s as advertised.”
For the season, Leach has rushed for 2,621 yards and a whopping 43 touchdowns, and has more than 3,000 all-purpose yards. Briggs said he is getting looks from schools like New Hampshire, Maine and Albany, and could get even more after the season.
“If he gets across the line of scrimmage with his shoulders square, he’s going to get at least 5 yards, if he doesn’t break one,” Lilac said. “He’s really good at breaking tackles, and he’s got a low center of gravity.”
For all of his well-deserved accolades, Leach is no one-man wrecking crew — he’s surrounded by talented players. Batavia’s offensive line is outstanding, quarterback Ethan Biscaro has passed for 1,000 yards and he has several capable receivers, led by Taiyo Iburi-Bethel. Biscaro also returns kicks.
“We’re more of a smashmouth team, but we can spread it out and go to the air when we need to,” said Briggs, whose team makes its first trip to the state championship game.
The Blue Devils’ defense is no slouch, either, with fast players across the board. Anchored by junior middle linebacker Josh Barber and his 110 tackles, Batavia has allowed only 11 points per game this season. Leach also plays middle linebacker and free safety Biscaro has picked off a school-record 11 passes this year.
Briggs said Batavia — located halfway between Buffalo and Rochester — set the state title game as its goal before the season, after going 6-3 last year. The Blue Devils had won three straight Section V titles before last season, but lost in the state quarterfinals each time.
“We knew we had a really good team coming back this year, so our goal was to be in this game,” Briggs said. “We had quite a bit of experience and talented, tough kids. It’s been exciting.”