Santaluces senior leads varsity football to first win of season

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Santaluces Community High School senior Aidan Leonor has made an impact for the Chiefs varsity football team. After transitioning from wide receiver to quarterback for his senior season, Leonor has displayed his talent and ability and emerged as a top playmaker on the gridiron.

Leonor recently led the Chiefs to their first win of the season as they defeated John I. Leonard 14-0 in a District 8-8A contest. He passed for a touchdown and also rushed for 129 yards and another score.

“It was a hard adjustment to make playing quarterback and I did not know how it would go and I have gained a lot of confidence throughout the season,” Leonor said. “I have been able to improve at practice and we have been able to build chemistry as a team. I am having a lot of fun and it’s exciting to have the playing time and getting the chance to touch the ball on every play. I am getting better and it was really exciting for me to play well and get a win.”

Brian Lewis, who is a first-year head coach with the Chiefs, installed the Air Raid offense to his players entering the season. The Chiefs were looking to find a quarterback for the pass-heavy attack and turned to Leonor, who took control of the position during 7-on-7 games this past summer.

“I knew it was tough for Aidan because he was one of our best receivers,” Lewis said. “We were looking for a quarterback to run our offense. We were able to see him in action at the 7-on-7 during the summer. He has a great arm and is a leader and our kids really responded and gravitated toward him and that confirmed it for us. He is a great athlete and can play at the next level and be successful.”

Leonor had a strong start to the season and was ranked seventh in passing yards in the state in Class 8A through the first three games. The Chiefs lost senior standout receiver Clifford Footman Jr. to an injury and the offense struggled to generate points during the following three weeks.

Leonor, who suffered a bone bruise during a loss against Park Vista, was limited to just one practice during the week before the game against John I. Leonard. He responded and delivered one of his best performances of the season.

“Aidan played phenomenal and did everything we asked him to do,” Lewis said. “He had a lot of energy and really got into his groove and I was very proud of him. We have played a challenging schedule and really good teams every week. We were able to put a full game together against John I. Leonard and I was really excited for our boys.”

Leonor grew up playing soccer, baseball and running track. He started his football journey with the East Boynton Wildcats youth tackle football program in the fifth grade and played multiple positions, including quarterback and safety. After spending his freshman year at Boynton Beach Community High School, he transferred to Santaluces and played wide receiver during his sophomore and junior year with the Chiefs. Leonor is skilled at his natural position and has received interest to play wide receiver from colleges, which has included UNLV.

Leonor’s two younger brothers, Devon Leonor and Akillis Martinez, are both sophomores and were top contributors at wide receiver this season to lead the Chiefs junior varsity football team to a 4-2 record.

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The Chiefs have focused on player development throughout the season with a young group of freshman and sophomores as well on the varsity squad.

“Akillis and Devon both played well and contributed a lot to the success of our junior varsity team,” Lewis said. “We have up-and-coming players who are continuing to develop.”

The Santaluces varsity football team has several contributors, including senior wide receiver Clifford Footman Jr., senior running back and safety Philip Grant, senior offensive and defensive lineman Stephon Jean, senior wide receiver Logan Kintz, senior cornerback Devon Pierre-Louis, junior linebacker Adan Toussaint and freshman wide receiver Jamar Browder.

Lewis is looking to build the program into a district contender in the upcoming years. The Chiefs have implemented a new logo and displayed it on their field. They’re in the process of receiving new uniforms with a black, red and white color scheme. Lewis had a Mom’s Night at the school before the season to bring the team closer together. He is planning for the team to grow on and off the field through strength and conditioning training, team bonding events and visits to schools to expose his players to more opportunities.

Lewis previously coached at Marsh Preparatory Academy in Dallas. He had attended the Official Air Raid Certification School taught by Hal Mumme, a former college football coach who is known as a founder of the Air Raid offense. Lewis said he is hoping more athletes who play other sports at Santaluces will want to join the football team to play in an up-tempo offense.

“We want to be a team that our opponents do not want to go up against on the schedule,” Lewis said.

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