By Dan McGrath

As debuts go, Darion Lee’s on behalf of the Leo Lions was one for the record books.

The sophomore quarterback completed 11 of 15 passes for 358 yards and four touchdowns as Leo opened the 2022 season with a 32-6 nonconference thumping of Bulls Academy Charter on Saturday, August 27 at St. Rita’s Cronin Field.

Senior Kevin Jackson was on the receiving end of all four scoring throws, including a 99-yarder which Lee launched from the end zone one play after a gang-tackling goal-line stand thwarted Bulls Academy’s bid for a game-tying touchdown inside the 1-yard line midway through the final period.

“We knew they’d send everybody and try to get us in the end zone for a safety,” Coach Mike Holmes said of the longest play from scrimmage in school history. “Kevin had single coverage, and he just flew by the guy and Darion laid it out there for him.”

Leo’s lead grew to 19-6 as Jackson raced into the end zone untouched, and the admirable resolve the visitors had shown to that point seemed to dissipate. Lee and Jackson hooked up for a 40-yard score on the Lions’ next possession, and sophomore Javon Logan’s 26-yard burst set up his own two-yard TD run to close out the scoring.

The Lions built their 13-6 halftime lead on Lee’s 72- and 38-yard TD strikes to Jackson, who finished with five catches for 260 yards. He also made an end-zone interception to turn the Bulls away after they had burned more than 11 minutes off the third-quarter clock on a drive that featured 11 straight running plays.

Leo then lost a fumble on first down from its own 20-yard line, meaning the Lions owned the ball for exactly one play in the third period. The Bulls then drove to the Leo 1 in seven plays, but a swarm of Lions stopped Kameron Poynter just short as he ran wide right on fourth down, setting up the Lee-to-Jackson record-breaker.

Christian Bankston completed seven of 15 passes for 98 yards and the game’s first  touchdown, a 39-yarder to a wide open Kameron Poynter, in the first quarter. Jaden Poynter’s 15 carries produced 79 yards for the Bulls.

“It’s nice to be 1-0, but we’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot to clean up,” Holmes said, referring specifically to 70 penalty yards and a running game that produced just eight yards in the first three quarters. “We’ll have to be better to beat Marian Catholic.”

The Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference opener for both teams will be played at Marian Catholic on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Marian Catholic.  The Spartans are also 1-0 following a 41-14 nonconference road win at Thornwood.