Powerful preacher

Rider junior LB Levell hits hard but stays humble

Andy Newberry
Patrick Johnston/Times Record News
Rider junior Caleb Levell blocks a punt against Denton. He deflected another one against Wichita Falls High. School. Levell has 94 tackles, including 7 for losses, and 5 sacks.

Patrick Johnston/Times Record News Rider junior Caleb Levell blocks a punt against Denton. He deflected another one against Wichita Falls High. School. Levell has 94 tackles, including 7 for losses, and 5 sacks.

Like most preachers, Caleb Levell has faith. Faith in his God and faith in his team.

And the Rider junior, who took over the "preacher role" from the graduated Cal Johnson this season, has some good works to go with his faith.

By the time Levell leads his teammates in a postgame prayer he has usually crashed into opposing ball carriers seven times, put a scare into the opposing punter and helped the Raiders win another game.

So if his teammates want to call him "Preacher," he's fine with it.

"I love it," Levell said. "When Cal left, he was a senior, coach Gar (Jim Garfield) and I talked about it. He knew where I stand on issues. I was like, all right, I can do that.

"It definitely means I have to be a leader on the team. I can't let the team down. I have to be a good leader."

Lavell has 94 tackles entering Saturday's Class 4A Division II Region I final against Frenship at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.

He's also contributed with his role off the field and on the sideline.

"With that responsibility, being like a team chaplain, he has added pressure and people looking to him for leadership," Garfield said. "He can articulate the words and it's there with his actions, how he plays on the field and handles himself in the classroom.

"He's one of those kids that if you have a daughter you'd like him to bring her to the house. He's humble, a great personality and a funny kid."

Levell has been a big part of Rider's new linebacker crew this year. It features three juniors — Bradley Goldstein, Sam Scribner and himself — plus senior Josh Haisten.

Levell and Scribner line up on the outside and have combined for 22 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Levell has seven stops behind the line on run plays plus five sacks. Scribner has five of each.

But the Raiders didn't have many of those last week when they were in chase mode against El Paso Burges, which ran for 520 yards.

Facing Frenship (12-1) this week presents another big challenge as the Tigers have an explosive back and power blocking scheme. After allowing Aaron Jones 334 yards they face a back in D'Maujeric Tucker who had 386 last week.

"We got to show up quick," Levell said. "We have to play fast. All the teams are good and all the teams are fast.

"Anytime you face a running back and they have like three touchdowns of 60 yards, you never want that to happen."

So Levell and his teammates have been doing more than praying this week, they've been working to get ready. Levell said the 42-14 victory over Frenship a year ago hasn't even been brought up. He traveled with that team but wasn't really a part of it.

"Teams can change a lot in a year," Levell said. "We have an opportunity. The mere thought of being the first team in school history (to win four playoff games) is awesome. I really think we have the opportunity to be that first team."

Levell said one of his favorite things about the defense is something they really can't control — their lack of size.

"It may sound weird, but I love how small our defense is," Levell said. "Our players aren't very big, but we've shown the big offenses that we can still hit hard and fast.

"We knew we had to come together, especially when J.T. (Barrett) got hurt and people were looking to see if we'd fall. I think we've done well."

With another win Saturday Levell could get a lot of amens in the postgame circle.

© 2012 Times Record News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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