One of the most anticipated high-school football all-star game events will have representation from Liberty County High School.
Panther freshman safety Richard LeCounte has been selected for the East team in the first freshman version of the United States Army All-American Bowl in January in San Antonio, Texas.
“It’s been blessing to be invited to the Army All-American game. It’s a huge honor for me to be able to go and represent Liberty County and to be with the best players in the country,” LeCounte said. The traditional bowl game began in 2000 as a showcase for the top senior high-school players in the country. Game alumni include Tim Tebow, Adrian Peterson, Terrelle Pryor, Andrew Luck and Michael Oher of “The Blind Side” fame, according to 247sports.com. The game has had 248 participants drafted into the NFL, 49 of which have gone on to be selected for the Pro Bowl.
Panthers head coach Kirk Warner last year was selected to coach the secondary for the East team, which defeated the West, 15-8. He described it as an amazing experience to be on the “biggest stage you can play on in high-school football.”
“It’s such a great experience. Richard and Liberty County will definitely benefit from it,” he said.
Though LeCounte remains an average 14-year-old who enjoys video games and playing around, he has had a freshman season that most athletes don’t achieve in four years of high school.
In his third game of the season against Johnson High School, he made two interceptions with one hand and played havoc with the Atomsmashers’ special teams. A University of Florida coach who was present to watch LCHS star linebacker Raekwon McMillan offered LeCounte a scholarship on the spot. The current scholarship count for LeCounte is nearing double digits.
Besides the whirlwind recruitment, LeCounte is at the top of the MaxPreps Freshman of the Year watch list as the top national freshman prospect.
Warner said he is proud of how people have started to notice the Liberty County Panthers program from McMillan and LeCounte.
“It’s great to see all of the attention that we get on a national level. I get so many emails from people all over the country,” he said. “As Raekwon will finish his career and choose the best school, Richard is just starting his and is already nationally known and recruited, and he is only 14 years old. It’s our job as coaches, the faculty and administration of Liberty County High School, and the community to encourage Richard but to also make sure he stays grounded,” Warner said.
This season also has been special for LeCounte in that he has developed a close relationship with McMillan, who knows the pressures and pitfalls of the national recruiting game. LeCounte has accompanied McMillan on some of his official visits, most recently the Georgia-LSU game in Athens.
“Raekwon has been really important to me. He is like a big brother, encouraging me to be the best on and off the field, and he understands that you have to push yourself to be the best all of the time especially when you are competing with the best players in the nation,” LeCounte said.