Skip to main content

No. 1 RB and Alabama commit Richard Young isn't the only star for Lehigh Senior

The Fort Myers area school will show off its talent in an ESPN game this season

LEHIGH ACRES, FLORIDA By now, most people who follow high school football know Richard Young.

The 6-foot, 205-pound mass of muscle and speed is ranked the No. 1 running back in the Class of 2023 by most recruiting sites. Entering his fourth year in the backfield at Lehigh Senior High School in Lehigh Acres (just east of Fort Myers), Young recently committed to Alabama, one of 44 Power Five college scholarship offers he has.

However, Lehigh is more than Richard Young. This year the Lightning are stacked with more individual talent than any team in Southwest Florida – and they're hoping it finally transfers into postseason success.

Last season Young rushed for 1,755 yards and 19 touchdowns as Lehigh went 7-3.

This year the Lightning have a beefed-up passing attack that might take away carries from the star running back, but should spread out the defense to make bigger holes for Young.

"Last year everyone stacked the box against us. We saw eight, nine guys in the box," Lehigh coach James Chaney said. "Hopefully the offense will open up and loosen things up for Richard."

The whole country will get to see Lehigh's talent early this season. The Lightning's Week 3 home game against Lakeland-Lake Gibson will be aired live on ESPN, just the second time a game will be nationally televised from Southwest Florida.

Sophomore quarterback Dorian Mallary was 62-of-116 passing last season for 785 yards and four touchdowns. Chaney expects all those numbers to go up this year.

Read More

Mallary has plenty of options through the air, starting with Kelton Henderson. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete, who transferred from Cape Coral-Island Coast, is committed to South Carolina and has 18 Power Five scholarship offers.

Ranod Smith, another multiposition athlete, transferred from Fort Myers and has seven Division I offers. Receiver Gerral Blue has four. Lehigh also added South Fort Myers transfer Andre Jocelyn, who has two Division I offers.

All that talent -- and the attention it brings -- could add pressure to Lehigh. But Chaney said his program, which churns out D1 college players each year, is used to it.

"It's just an honor to have our players thought of and considered nationally," said Chaney, now in his eighth year leading the Lightning. "We work hard to promote them so hopefully they can go on to the next level."

Lehigh's defense isn't short on talent, either.

Linebacker Tyre Cunningham led Southwest Florida with 144 tackles last season (in 10 games). Though he might be undersized for colleges at 5-10, 185, he finished with 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks last season.

Two-way lineman Jaheim Buchanon (6-2, 280) is committed to Florida International.

Lehigh has made the playoffs each of the past four seasons, but the Lightning have just two postseason wins in that time and haven't made it past the second round. The Lightning will be tested early when they play perennial power Naples High in Week 1.