The Red Devils wideout ranks first in the county in catches (36) and touchdown receptions (9) and second — to teammate JuJu Brown — in receiving yards with 541.
Perhaps his most notable stat as a student-athlete, however, is his No. 9-rank in the Red Springs senior class with a 4.19 weighted GPA.
The Red Springs senior’s efficiency when hitting the field and the books earned him September’s Mountaire/Heartland Scholar Athlete of the Month award, kicking off the new and improved program that now awards each monthly winner a $1,000 college scholarship. Each monthly winner also becomes eligible for an additional $1,500 college funds that is awarded to the male and female scholar athletes of the year.
“It means everything to me,” Leach said in regards to being a successful student-athlete. Along with playing football, basketball and baseball, he is also a Junior Marshall and member of the school’s choir. “Basically, the key is not being lazy. Doing your work in school and putting in your work on the field.”
The Mountaire/Heartland Athlete of the Month program’s mission is to highlight male and female senior student-athletes within Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher. Nominees need to also be recognized by their coaches for outstanding sportsmanship and perform with superior ability in athletic competition.
For George Coltharp, the second-year Red Springs football coach and athletic director, nominating Leach was a no-brainer.
“First and foremost, he’s just a great kid, his character is unimpeachable," Coltharp said.
Along with his best friend since middle school and teammate Zach Jones — “he’s helped me not procrastinate” — Leach accredited Coltharp for helping shape him into the standout receiver and student-athlete he’s become.
“He’s really helped me actually see the talent that I have,” Leach said. “I didn’t really start doing anything in high school football until my junior year, and that was the first year he came. He kind of gave me a chance to shine.”
It didn’t take long for Coltharp to see the potential.
“He’s a kid who’s just got extraordinary quickness,” Coltharp said. “He’s not a big kid — he’s maybe 5-6 … 150, 160 pounds — but has good leaping ability and works hard in the weight room.
“We think we highlight what he does well, we get the ball to him quickly in space and let him make moves and he does what he does.”
Leach has been doing loads of that this fall, opening the season with a six-catch, 123-yard, three-touchdown showing in Red Springs’ 67-27 rout of West Bladen. Most recently, Leach hauled in a 17-yard touchdown to help the Red Devils run away from rival St. Pauls in a Three Rivers Conference opener.
With performances like that, along with top-notch grades, Leach is considering an athletic career at the college-level, with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and East Carolina as his two schools of choice thus far.
“Really, I never thought I’d be in this position. It’s been kind of eye-opening,” said Leach. “I’m really trying to go to East Carolina. If I go there without a scholarship, I’m going to walk on to see if I can get a shot.”