LEESVILLE — With so many other star players around him, sometimes it was hard to notice how much Leesville’s Darius Sawyer impacted the Wampus Cats run to the Class 4A semifinals last year.
Playing a half-dozen positions, Sawyer racked up 1,081 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He is multiple in his abilities of what he can do for our football team,” Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. “I think that he is a diamond in the rough. People are overlooking him.
“If he could block, we would probably put him in a 60 jersey and let him block on the offensive line too. He does everything and you don’t have to ask him. That is such a strong suit for him. He is a versatile athlete on any side of the ball. He just serves hard.
“This kid’s academics are strong. He is well behaved even when you are not looking. He does the little things right. He volunteers for the scout team.”
Sawyer, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior, says he’s ready to do it again as he tries to help the Wampus Cats to another deep playoff run.
“I just have to play with heart,” Sawyer said. “Everyone is projecting us to not be a playoff team.
“We just have to go out there and play hard and just don’t worry about what everyone says. I have always been changed around positions since I was a child playing flag football and stuff. I just adjust to everything they say. It is just being an athlete.”
Sawyer did most of his damage as a wide receiver last year with 28 catches for 526 yards (18.8 ypc) and seven touchdowns.
“He has great body control and awareness,” Causey said. “When he goes up for a pass, he plays bigger than his frame.
“A lot of guys that you see at receiver just don’t have good awareness. They don’t know how to move their body in order to get into a better position to catch a football. He knows it. It is something that is just ingrained in him. I call it positive genetics. It is not something that we have coached. His ability on Friday night is God-given; it is definitely not some drill that we have incorporated.”
But Sawyer says his favorite position is running back where last year he rushed for 481 yards and five touchdowns on 54 carries. He gained 123 yards on eight carries and scored twice in the Wampus Cats’ first-round playoff win over Baton Rouge Woodlawn.
“I do like playing wide receiver at times, but running back will never go away,” Sawyer said. “It is just fun, running around, juking and spin moves. It just feels more exciting than playing wide receiver.”
Sawyer scored a pair of touchdowns in five games last year, including Week 3 against Westlake when he scored on a 70-yard punt return and rushed for another with 79 yards on four carries.
“He runs well with the ball,” Causey said. “He runs like a waterbug. Man, he has those hips on a swivel. You never get a clean shot at him.
“I think a lot of schools are overlooking him. They have their checklist, but you can’t measure heart. He just has such a competitive heart. If the ball is in the air, he is going to go get it.”
The Wampus Cats will have an entirely new offensive line with the most notable loss, 6-foot-6, 255-pound Matthew Anderson, now at Nebraska. But Sawyer said the Wampus Cats will be a contender in District 3-4A.
“We have a very good offensive line,” Sawyer said. “They hustle and do everything they can. They barely make any mistakes.
“We have all our skill players back except for one. But we will step up to the plate and still be a top tier team in our district. Play as a team and with heart, that is all we have to do.”