We don’t get to talk much about 1B football in this state, but John Lesser of Liberty Christian (Richland, Wa.) is a special athlete from the 8-man football ranks.
In three full years of varsity football, Lesser has rushed for 5,309 yards and 87 touchdowns. Defensively, Lesser has racked up 254 tackles and 14 INT’s, helping lead Liberty Christian to two state finals appearances.
“The state championship is an amazing and humbling experience,” Lesser told Northwest Elite Index. “You see so much talent at the Tacoma Dome and it’s fun to watch and play.”
Liberty Christian lost last year’s final to Neah Bay, but were on the winning end against the same Red Devils two years before.
“My freshman year was a very unique experience because I scored the game winning touchdown (See Below) as time expired to beat Neah Bay by six,” Lesser said. “It gave me a great feeling and the drive to want that feeling again. My second experience at state was the other end of the spectrum, I experienced defeat.
“I know what it is like to be a champion, and to be humbled. I believe that is the perfect mixture to create a drive to go out and give my all on the field to feel that champion feeling again next year.”
The Patriots break in a new head coach this year in Craig Lukens, who is an alum and has been an assistant at LC for the past seven seasons, but the expectations do not change.
“Our top team goal this season is the obvious; We want to win the State Championship,” Lesser says. “We want to avenge our loss of last year and prove we are the best team out there on the field. A new goal set for us is to learn sort of a new system. He is bringing in some new ideas so one of biggest goals is to run his system well and efficiently.
“Another one of our goals is to raise our 2 point conversion success rate. If we would have converted the 2 point plays in the state game last year we would have had more of a chance to come back.”
Last season Lesser was voted first team all-state by the Associated Press, and probably would’ve been the 1B player of the year if the Patriots had won state. Lesser was also voted second team all-state for his work at defensive back.
Nobody will argue the difference in play from 1B to 4A, but there is a common misconception that 1B athletes simply are not as good as their 4A counterparts. While it may have some truth, there are many exceptions to the rule, and Lesser has done a great job at camps proving his abilities are real.
“You have to know people,” Lesser said. “Athletes that used to go to your school, coaches at higher levels, writers for the media. I have been blessed with a few people in places that have helped me get attention. Another thing I’ve done to get noticed is go to some Northwest camps. Coaches can see me and I get a feel for the talent level.
“One of our former players, Tyler Morris, is playing football at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. After I sent my information down to them they went and talked to Tyler and he told them of my work ethic and desire to play.”
Recruiting has been tough for Lesser, but he is hearing from Minnesota-Duluth, as well as a plethora of D3 schools in the Northwest Conference, and he has even received mail from Washington State and the University of Idaho.
Lesser is focused right now on getting ready for his senior season, but will also take a trip to Minnesota-Duluth for their skills camp, as well as Pacific Lutheran’s camp.
We will keep you updated on Lesser and be on the lookout for a team preview in the next few weeks.