Not Your Average High School Player, Danny Leach is an Inspirational Leader

Mike PendletonCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2010

Leach (20), who is team first stands between coaches and players as his team comes off the field.
Leach (20), who is team first stands between coaches and players as his team comes off the field.

"Leach Lovers." For someone who's not even talked about throughout the whole state, Danny Leach of Downers Grove South High School (Downers Grove, IL) has plenty of fans. Actually, he has more then plenty he has many. A student based group named "Leach Lovers" are in the stands every Friday night, rooting for Leach because he simply, is a fan favorite.

Here are the basics on Leach. A 5'10" 170-pound free safety for South, Leach also plays corner-back, punt returner and even found himself doing running back work to fill the void of Josh Williams last week against Hinsdale South High School (Hinsdale, IL)

Classifying his game as a "sure tackler and explosion type player when making interceptions" Leach has goals set on not making it to a top ranked college to play football but he keeps it simple. "The goal of a state championship and being able to play under the Friday night lights is what has driven me." 

Leach spends his time during the season and off-season as well, working his heart out in the weight room and going to speed training classes. As he does in the weight room Leach plays the game with emotion, wearing his heart on his sleeve and never taking a play off.

"How bout Leach, he hasn't played much running back and now he's making big plays for us." That quote from last Friday's game against Hinsdale was said by South head coach John Belskis. That sums up the way Leach is, a hard worker who puts team first and never talks about himself.

The fact that Leach doesn't talk about himself may be the reason why you may not have heard about his incredible play that truly makes Leach, a fan favorite. 

Last season as a sophomore Leach was teammates with Dan Catalano who was diagnosed with autism and Leach, like always put his teammates first.

On a play where Leach could have found the end-zone he decided to step out of bounds and give Catalano his time to shine. Stepping out of bounds right before the end-zone Leach and Catalano's father knew what he did.

As Catalano's father who was working the chains ran to the end-zone, his son's time was here. After a fumble on the first try. Catalano received the ball for a second time, and behind an offensive line determined to finish the play, Catalano scored a touchdown, in part to Danny Leach's unselfishness.

The crowd erupted as Catalano scored and then Leach expressed his joy for Dan saying "He deserved this, more then anyone else I know, his passion for football is inspiring me and that's why he scored the touchdown, not me.

Back to the present, Catalano is still on the team, varsity and so is Leach. The two are good friends and they bring a true emotion to the South locker room.

Carl Wild, who played on the team last year, was on special teams during the incredible play and said, "It was a miracle, the best day of my life. seeing Danny's dad, Coach Wiggins, all the family in the stands was amazing.

"We owed it to Dan Catalano. He's such a great kid who has heart for the game. He loves every football player that was on the team. We never ruled him out on anything. He was a big part of our team and he kept us motivated."

As great of a story as it is, Leach says, "I just want people to know I have great speed and put my team first. Whether it's scoring a touchdown or congratulating my teammate who scored, I am all about the team.

Already with 30 solo tackles on the season, many great punt returns, four interceptions and a joy for the game that makes his fans go crazy, Leach is a star that deserves respect. Every Friday night you can find Danny Leach leaving it all on the field and the "Leach Lovers" supporting him, all the way, loud and clear.