Leal, Atlantic Rebound from Tough Loss

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Mark Leal ‘s recruiting card

Senior quarterback Mark Leal and his Atlantic (Delray Beach, FL) teammates were highly confident heading into a match-up against Dwyer High School several weeks ago, only to come away on the losing end of a 47-7 decision. Atlantic has rebounded with two consecutive wins, beginning with a thrilling 47-36 victory over Park Vista on October 9th.

“It was a lot of fun. I love games like that,” Leal said of the win over Park Vista. “I love those close, competitive games, where people are on the edge of their seats. Being able to bring the team back to win was great.”

Down 36-33 with just over two minutes remaining, Leal connected with junior receiver Ezekiel Turner on a 61-yard corner route and again on a 4-yard touchdown pass to give Atlantic the lead by four. A James Louis interception return sealed the victory. Leal, one of two quarterbacks to commit to Virginia Tech’s 2010 class, discussed his mentality when leading the team on a late fourth quarter comeback.

“I don’t really get nervous,” Leal said. “I’ve been in a lot of those games, where I had to bring the team back. I get focused. I realize the game situation. There are only a couple of minutes left and we’ve got to score. I just get really focused.”

Leal recalled the first time he had to lead Atlantic in a fourth quarter comeback.

“I think the first time I ever had to do it was when I was a sophomore,” Leal said. “We lost 13-7. I wasn’t even a starter then. I was a backup most of my sophomore year. I guess our starter kept messing up, so my coach threw me in there. I didn’t warm up or anything. He just threw me in the fire. The first drive, I threw a touchdown pass. We were down 13-6. The game went on like that for a while. I ended up throwing an interception late and they kneeled down and the clock ran out.

“From that I learned to focus more and not try to force or rush anything. The interception I threw was forced. I forced a ball into double coverage. I could’ve gone out of bounds and had another play. I realized I have to have poise.”

Two games later, Leal would take over for good as Atlantic’s starting quarterback. A stellar junior season put him on the radar of major college coaches and he has continued his