La Porte has been considered one of the state's top teams this season, but the Bulldogs made even more of a statement to that fact with a 27-10 victory over Houston-area power Galena North Shore.
"Yes sir, it gives us a lot of momentum going into the playoffs," Michael Leagan said. "We showed that we aren't someone to be taken lightly.
"To be completely honest, the guys in our fieldhouse were the only guys who picked us to win," Leagan said. "So we went out there and did what we had to do to win. Our energy levels were really good in practice all week, and our coaches said that was our best week of practice."
Individually, Leagan also put together a strong performance. La Porte ran the ball extremely well, averaging around seven yards per carry over Leagan's side (he plays left tackle this year).
"I felt like I played really, really well," Leagan said. "You can never have a perfect game. But against that category of players — we weren't playing South Houston, we were playing North Shore — I felt that I performed really well."
The win restored state championship hopes for a school that entered the season with their eyes on Cowboys Stadium. Last year, La Porte just missed making the trip, which Leagan said "put a bitter taste in our mouth." It also served as a motivator in the offseason for a team that didn't want to suffer the same fate this season.
"I felt like last year, I wasn't as fast or as strong," Leagan said. "I think I have more knowledge of the game and overall, I'm just faster and stronger this year."
But Leagan also conceded that he has work to do. He's played every position along the line over the past few years, playing center his freshman season, guard as a sophomore and left tackle this year.
"I'd like to get better at pass blocking," Leagan said. "We've been mostly a running team, and I haven't allowed a sack all year. But I could still work on keeping my shoulders more square and improving my footwork."
With Leagan's height — he's 6-3 285 — he projects to the interior at the next level, and that's where his attention is coming from.
"If I want to play guard, I have to eat a little bit more and get more weight on me," Leagan said. "Right now, everybody's talking bout center because of my height and my weight."
Leagan said he wouldn't mind being bumped inside, and added that his time spent at each position enabled him to know how each position on the line reacted to different defensive line stunts. So when an end slants inside, without looking, he knows how the guard is going to handle him.
His ability projects him as one of the top interior linemen in the state for 2014, in an elite group that includes Jacob Bragg of Nacogdoches and, ironically enough, Trevon Tate of Galena North Shore. Leagan is currently hearing from Texas A&M, Washington State, Arizona State, Texas Tech, Baylor, SMU and Oklahoma. Texas coach Major Applewhite has also been on hand to watch him play.
Leagan said he's still figuring out which schools he'll consider, but right now his front-runners, based on the interest they've shown him, in no specific order, are Arizona State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
"I would like to make a decision before my senior year," Leagan said. "That way I can just go out and play ball without worrying about my recruitment."
Leagan said the factor that he looked at the most was whether a coaching staff was hard-working.
"I come from a school with a really hard-working staff," Leagan said. "I would like to go somewhere that is also like that. The want to win, and the want to constantly get better, those are important to me."