Leal, Atlantic Confident Following Loss

Click here to view the recruiting card of Mark Leal

Last week’s game: Atlantic lost to Pahokee, 13-6. Atlantic is 0-1 on the season
Leal’s stat line: 11-26, 131 yards; 7 carries, 19 yards, 1 touchdown
Next up: Home game tonight versus Jupiter

Last Friday night’s season opening loss was a disappointment, but quarterback Mark Leal says his team came out more encouraged than anything else. Atlantic battled 2A power Pahokee the entire night, taking the lead 6-0 just before halftime. Pahokee rallied for 13 unanswered points in the second half, coming away with a hard-fought victory.

“We came out strong. We kind of set the tone a little bit,” said the 6-1, 185-pound Leal. “Early on, on our first drive, we had a receiver wide open down the field. It was my first throw, so I was pumped up. I way overthrew him. I overthrew him by at least 10 yards, which kind of hurt. We scored first. It was on an option play. I kept the ball and ran it in. After halftime, our offense just stopped clicking. Pahokee has a great team and they made a couple of plays to win the game.”

Atlantic features big-time 2010 class prospects Leal, a Virginia Tech commit, Ohio State wide receiver recruit James Louis and Minnesota running back recruit Donnell Kirkwood. But, according to Rivals.com, six Pahokee seniors have committed to major FBS programs with three more boasting major FBS offers.

“Their defense really stands out,” Leal said. “Like us, you can’t get big plays against them. You have to put together a long drive and trickle it down the field. They are pretty much all D1 athletes. Even the defensive linemen are quick. They had five on the line the entire game. There were two standing ends. They put as much pressure as they could on me.”

Leal assessed his overall performance.

“My performance was okay,” said Leal. “It could’ve been a little better. Me and the receivers could’ve been on the same page more. After we broke down film, we counted nine drops. Of course a couple of my passes were off, but of balls that hit receivers in the hands there were nine drops. We also played in heavy rain, so the ball was slippery. I’m pretty sure that had an effect. Other than that, I did okay. There were a couple of plays I kept rewinding in my head, wishing I could do over again.”

As is the usual routine, Atlantic’s players had a film/recovery day on Saturday and enjoyed Sunday off. For Leal, Sunday is an especially significant day.

“It’s a family day,” Leal said. “I go to church, come home, and then it’s pretty much just me with my family. If there is homework, I’ll do that and finish it. Every Sunday night, me and my family go to Dairy Queen. I get a Snickers Blizzard every time. We’ve kept that tradition up every Sunday night for the past couple of years or so.”

Saturday night, Leal was sure to catch his future team in action. He felt the Hokies did well in the 34-24 loss to Alabama, praising the defense for its performance.

“Actually, I thought Virginia Tech came out good for the first three quarters,” Leal said. “The game went back and forth and back and forth. I think the offense needed to step it up a little bit to help the defense out. The defense did a good job, I thought, but you could tell they were worn out in the end. Overall, I think Tech played pretty good. I think the offense will get it going.”

On Monday night, the Leal family had a cookout to watch in-state battle Florida State and Miami. Leal’s father is a big Miami Hurricanes fan, though his son is working on that.

“I’m slowly converting him to be a Tech fan,” Leal said. “He went for Tech when they played Alabama. He said he’ll root for Virginia Tech until they play Miami. When they play the U, he hopes I’ll have a good night but he said he’ll always be a Cane.”

Mark plans on attending Virginia Tech’s home game versus Miami. Will he have to leave his father at home?

“That’s what I said to him,” Leal said with a laugh. “I got him to buy two Virginia Tech shirts when we visited. He has a closet full of Miami shirts. He’s not telling me yet what he’s going to wear.”

After a final film session last night, the standout signal caller is ready to lead his team tonight.

“We play Jupiter High School,” Leal said. “After the way we played Pahokee, we feel very confident about this game and about the rest of the season. Jupiter is not Pahokee, but we’re going to come out