Leondre Coleman saw his first football idol during the 2010 high school season — a sophomore running back who would help turn the Braves around, going from 1-9 the previous season to CIF Southern Section Northwest Division champions that year.
That sophomore back was none other than Lavon Coleman, who is now toting the ball at the University of Washington and continues to serve as the rising 2020 linebacker’s inspiration, as he becomes the latest star Coleman inside Huyck Stadium.
“He gave it his all,” Leondre recalled of his older brother before Tuesday’s practice. “Even if he got taken out of the game, he would still cheer on the scout players. If it was a loss, he still gave it 110 percent. And that’s what I plan on doing here for my career in high school.”
So far, there have been flashes of dominance from the young defensive playmaker. Coleman, through the first five games his sophomore season, is the current leading tackler with 32 stops including 24 solo tackles – which is also tops for the Braves.
While his older brother was known for running through and around linebackers, the younger Coleman said big bro was instrumental in teaching him the technical aspect of football.
“He taught me the fundamentals of what to do and told me, ‘Do what you need to do out there. But just make the team successful,’” Coleman said.
Lavon isn’t just his lone gridiron role model. He looks up to two guys he lines up alongside with on Friday nights: Jelani Henderson and Ruben Cortez.
“I look up to Ruben and Jelani. Every game, we ball out together,” Coleman said. “I always learn from them and big Tee (Tee Taua, linebackers coach).”
The trio is a key component in Lompoc’s current streak of eight consecutive quarters without allowing a single point. Coleman says while he’s the youngest of the linebackers, it doesn’t hold him back from being feisty on that football field.
“It does get competitive during practice,” Coleman said with a smile. “We laugh about it in the end, though. During practices, when it’s offense versus defense, we get physical. But after that, we laugh about it and we joke around.”
Laughs may get exchanged before practices at Huyck, but Coleman insists that everything during the practice hours becomes a business-like approach for the Braves.
“We treat practice like a CIF playoff game. We take no breaks,” Coleman said.
His head coach Andrew Jones says he’s not shocked that the latest from the Coleman household is emerging as a future cornerstone for the Braves.
“I’m not really surprised,” Jones said. “I saw him do some things on the freshman team last year that earned his right to make it up here with us. He’s been very productive and he’s been a student of the game. He’s really taken on his role.”
Jones cites one reason for Coleman’s breakout five games: Teams have tried to run away from Cortez’s side – which funnels plays toward Coleman’s weakside linebacker spot.
“He knows people will run away from Ruben at the strong ‘backer and he’ll get picked on because he’s sophomore. But I’m like, ‘I wouldn’t run that way either because he’s a sure tackler.’ He’s playing at a high level,” Jones said. “You mix him in and Jelani and Ruben and they’re all playing well. Plus Big Tee is a new element for them. They all seem to be on the same page.”
Coleman is putting together his own legacy inside the house that his older brother helped rebuild. But he still takes the time to think about the Husky running back’s advice and expertise.
“I looked up to him,” Leondre said of Lavon. “I came to every Lompoc game and said, 'I’m going to be coming here in a couple of years. I need to ball out like he did and go to college too.’”