Sports Editor

When the stage is set, when the stakes are the highest, big-time players step up.

Jody Iams was talking about that very premise immediately following the Class 3A state championship game.

There was no bigger stage for Iams and his Sequoyah Eagles.

And there was no bigger player stepping up than Levi Richardson.

He had directed the Eagles through 13 preliminary acts before reaching center stage and the grand finale.

He responded with a bravura performance in the final act.

When the spotlight was at its brightest, Richardson shone even brighter.

He turned the ultimate team game into a one-man show.

He gained 249 yards. He scored three touchdowns.

Without once flubbing a line, he had upstaged Marlow and its troupe of starry-eyed hopefuls.

He had performed like the veteran he was.

When the curtain finally descended, there was Richardson, surrounded by his cast of characters, holding a 32-3 victory and a gold ball.

Now it’s time for one more curtain call.

Levi Richardson, Sequoyah’s offensive maestro with the golden touch, is being heralded as the Claremore Progress 2006 Rogers County High School Football Player of the Year.

Through a flawless 14-game season, the 6-foot senior quarterback saved the best for last.

He rose to the occasion. And then went higher.

He scored Sequoyah’s first two touchdowns against Marlow, and then scored Sequoyah’s final touchdown, and all the time in between, he operated a Wing-T offense that ground up 387 yards.

The gold ball should have “Levi Richardson” inscribed across the front.

The game certainly had his fingerprints on it.

“He’s a great leader,” says J.R. Row, the linebacker who is Richardson’s equal on defense.

“Every play, he’s saying, ‘Play with heart. Give 100 percent. Play every play as if it’s your last.’”

Richardson was the spiritual leader in the huddle. And he was the statistical leader on the scoreboard.

He posted the best individual offensive numbers on the best offensive team in all of Class 3A.

He rushed for 1,065 yards, and a whopping 9.9 yards per carry.

He rushed for 19 touchdowns.

He passed for 1,001 yards, and 11 more touchdowns.

He had four interceptions in 14 games. He lost a grand total of two fumbles in 206 offensive plays over the season.

Playing for a coach who stresses a star-less team concept, Levi Richardson proved himself a star of the first order.

If all the world is a stage, Levi Richardson has the world at his feet.

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