Six Saints earn VISAA honors

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nansemond-Suffolk sophomore fullback David Gough runs for tough yardage during the Saints’ 22-14 win over visiting state rival Trinity Episcopal last season. Gough was named to the VISAA Division II all-state first team at both his offensive and defensive positions. He was one of six Saints players to make the first team.

After a successful football season in which Nansemond-Suffolk Academy made it to the state championship game, sophomore David Gough headlined a group of six Saints that were named to the VISAA Division II all-state first team.

The Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association recently convened a panel of all the Division II coaches in the state to decide which players should be honored.

Gough had the distinction of being the only NSA player to be named to both the offensive and defensive first teams.

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“It was very exciting, and I was very grateful,” Gough said. “That’s a great honor.”

He had a breakout year on offense as a fullback, carrying the ball 181 times for 1,157 yards and 15 touchdowns as well as more than a few two-point conversions. At defensive tackle, he had 35 tackles, including three sacks and five tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles.

NSA head coach Lew Johnston dug into Dallas Cowboys history to come up with a fitting comparison for Gough.

“I told the coaches that he reminds me of Randy White, who was nicknamed ‘The Manster,’” Johnston said. “He played linebacker in college and ended up playing defensive line in the (National Football League). He’s in the hall of fame. David’s just that type of player. That’s a real throwback to be a fullback on offense and a defensive tackle on defense. You don’t see a kid with that type of not only athletic ability, but size and strength and speed. He’s the total package.”

Gough’s success, as well as the Saints’ entire running and passing games, owe thanks, in large part, to junior center Will DeLuca, who was named to the first team as an offensive lineman.

“He’s a two-year starter for us, so he’s been in the offense and running the offense, and we put a lot on our center in terms of blocking calls and things going on up there that he’s got to do,” Johnston said. “So I feel like if anyone up front deserves some recognition, he did.”

Junior John Mobley was named as a tight end.

“I wish there were more opportunities to throw him the football, because, quite frankly, he’s an excellent receiver,” Johnston said. “But the coaches recognized that for our Wing-T offense to run as well as it did, it starts with the tight end, and he just did a fabulous job blocking there all year long.”

Mobley also had nine receptions and a touchdown, averaging 17 yards per catch.

Rounding out the first team Saints on offense was senior quarterback Tim Burns, who completed 68 of 158 passes for 1,006 yards and six touchdowns. The Saints featured a run-heavy offense, but Johnston called upon Burns to manage the offense and keep the team out of bad plays.

“In speaking of that and being a senior and leading his team to the state championship game, the (Division II) coaches said he’s certainly deserving of first team recognition, so I was real proud of him,” Johnston said.

On defense, the Saints were led by senior Jacob Laine, who was selected to the first team at linebacker, accumulating 79 total tackles, two tackles for a loss and one sack.

“He made the calls, he set the line and the linebackers and called the coverages,” Johnston said. “He was Coach (Mike) Newhall’s right-hand man on the field.”

“But the main thing he brought for us — he was the team leadership award winner that the kids voted on,” Johnston said. “He was that guy, he was that spark that carried us all the way to that last game.”

Last but not least, junior Michael Tyler Lepore was named at defensive back. Johnston describes him as having come a long way from the 5-foot-4, 110-pound freshman who was not ready to play this position two years ago.

“I told him when we started the season this year, I said, ‘You are our lockdown corner. You’re going to have to cover everybody else’s best wide receiver,’” Johnston said. “I looked him straight in the eye, I said, ‘Are you up to the challenge?’ He said, ‘I’m ready.’”

“He was such an effective cover corner that we took away the other team’s passing game,” Johnston said.

Lepore had four interceptions and nine pass break-ups for the 2012 season.