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Community honors future UGA Bulldog
LeCounte finalist for top national defensive award
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Erika LeCounte is all smiles after her son, Richard LeCounte III, handed her a poster that was a gift from the Liberty County Panthers to his parents. Father Richard LeCounte II, left, and coach Kirk Warner are behind them at a ceremony Monday that honored the football star as he finishes his high school career to join the Georgia Bulldogs. - photo by Patty Leon

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Liberty County football player Richard LeCounte III received a nice send off Monday night as the senior prepares to graduate early and enroll at the University of Georgia to begin his college football career.

LeCounte’s family, teammates, coaches from throughout the years, friends and community leaders honored the all-around athlete in a ceremony at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center.
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, recognized the dedication and support of LeCounte’s parents, Erika and Richard II, saying they not only raised a great athlete, but also a great young man.

“We are proud of him for so many reasons, but we are most proud of him because he is truly a gentleman,” Williams said.
He went on to say that he believes LeCounte has a bright future and that knows he will do well because he puts God first in all he does.
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette read a proclamation from the county and gave LeCounte a personal pin stamped with “Liberty County Proud.”
“There are many young people that are looking up to you,” Lovette said. “You are their hero…you have changed a lot of lives…keep that going.”

Lovette said LeCounte was born on Sept. 11, but that he stopped celebrating his birth on that day to honor those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Lovette said that was the type of thing a person like LeCounte would do.

Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown called LeCounte the greatest all-around athlete to grow up in Liberty County. He said the only other person he can recall being as athletic in multiple sports like LeCounte was Darrell Baker.
“But I think you have unseated him,” Brown said.
Riceboro Mayor Bill Austin asked the Riceboro native to never forget where he came from, and to make sure everyone knows his small hometown. He presented two gifts to LeCounte on behalf of the city, one being a glass award with an inspirational quote on it.
“I can sum up Richard with two words, ‘coach’s dream’,” Panther football coach Kirk Warner said. “You don’t get many like that and it’s bittersweet for me today because the selfish part of me wants to keep him around four more years. But the proud coach in me wants him to go on to that next chapter.”

Warner, who also played football for UGA, said he never tried to influence LeCounte’s decision but when he saw he had committed to his alma mater he leapt nearly six feet off the floor.
Erika LeCounte said she and her husband knew early that Richard was different than his older five siblings. Certain things came easier for him, she said, and he was competitive since he started in sports at age 4. She thanked everyone in the community for their support throughout the years.

LeCounte also thanked everyone and became emotional as he recalled his grandmother who recently passed away.
“First of all I want to thank God… my parents… It’s just been a wild ride and for it to be going by so fast,” he said while acknowledging all his former coaches, teammates and friends.

He spoke about being a part of the state winning basketball team and how they knew they would win.
“The things that this community did for us to send us off the right way…win, lose or draw we were already winners.”

LeCounte leaves LCHS with impressive career stats in both football and basketball. In football he completed 42-of-85 passes for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 194 career carries for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had 86 receptions for 1,683 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Defensively he had 284 solo tackles and 115 assists with 36 tackles for loss of yards. LeCounte had four sacks, recorded 13 interceptions for 360 yards, deflected 33 passes, recovered eight fumbles he for 151 yards and returned 42 kickoffs for 1,232 yards. He also had 42 punt returns for 915 yards.

During his basketball career he scored 1,216 points in 74 games.
Thursday, The U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee announced the five finalists for the Lockheed Martin Defensive Back of the Year, presented to the top high school senior defensive back in America.

LeCounte was one of the finalists.
The Lockheed Martin Defensive Back of the Year will be announced at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Awards Show in San Antonio, Texas. The game is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2017 at noon (CST) and may be televised on NBC.

See more of LeCounte’s ceremony in the video section of

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