"We had to win and not let La Follette mess up our season," Settle said.
So when Madison La Follette tried to do just that, going 66 yards to score a touchdown on its opening possession, Settle knew that he had to respond. He did, which is a big reason why the Regents are headed to the playoffs.
Settle was virtually unstoppable against a bewildered Lancers defense, rushing 17 times for 209 yards and two touchdowns to help West score 31-straight points in a convincing 31-16 victory at Lussier Stadium.
"He's a great football player," said West coach Greg Valaskey, who has guided his team to back-to-back playoff trips. "We didn't come out of the gate real well but when Leighton got going, our line got going."
With his dad, current Wisconsin running back coach John Settle, watching from the stands, Leighton did his father proud, finishing the regular season with 186 carries for 1,553 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging an astounding 8.3 yards per carry.
"We proved to our opponents what we could do overall," Settle said. "I stayed focused, told my line to do what they do and we started popping off runs and touchdowns."
He was certainly the key for Madison West (5-4) in a must-win game. Settle cashed in the Regents second offensive series when he bolted through the left side of the offensive line untouched for a 56-yard score, a run that put him over 100 yards for the ninth time this season.
Settle was also a factor on the next series, carrying the offense down to the one-yard line to set up fellow senior back Julius Starlin's one-yard plunge, the first of his two scores in the game.
The only thing Settle did wrong was overthrow a wide-open Gerald Schad on a halfback option to begin the second half. Of course, he made up for it on the next play, out running the defense for a 58-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter.
"I don't have the best arm," Settle laughed, who took the rest of the night off after the score.
Settle still has his scholarship offer from Fresno State and continues to get interest from schools in the MAC conference and other mid major programs. Settle's main goal is the ACT exam this weekend and staying focused on his grades. After spending the summer in summer school instead of going to camps, a main reason for him having one scholarship offer, Settle's performance has warranted more consideration.
"I am happy with the offer, but I am going to lift in the off-season to get stronger, get my grades higher so I have more options and stay in contact with a lot of coaches so they know where I am at," Settle said.