MOORE HAVEN– Moore Haven’s L.J. Sampson Jr has signed a letter of intent to continue his education and play football at Quincy University in Quincy, Ill.
“Quincy is getting a great one,” said Terrier football head coach Brent Burnside. “L.J. has been a three year starter and has garnered a leadership role since I’ve been at Moore Haven. He has continued to develop at the quarterback position and possesses unlimited potential. He will continue to grow and develop. We were truly run-heavy up until last year. Coach Garrett and I saw that he had the ability for us to open it up a little bit offensively with the weapons we had around him. He enabled us to change the game a little.”
In 2019 L.J along with wide receiver Javon Jones helped give the Terrier offense a little more balance than the traditional ground attack the team had fielded in years prior.
As the season progressed L.J. grew more and more comfortable passing the ball. In 2018 he threw for only 100 yards. In 2019, he threw for over 1,700.
In Moore Haven’s regional quarterfinal playoff game against the First Baptist Academy Lions, Sampson completed 11 out of 14 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns. He would go on to earn Big Lake Athlete of the Week honors for his performance.
In that playoff game the Terrier running game was as strong as ever. But what truly let them run away with a victory was their ability to repeatedly burn the Lions in the passing game.
Time and time again Sampson threw perfectly placed passes just out of reach of the Lions defensive backs and into the hands of his receivers.
One play in particular looked to be a back-breaker for the Lions morale.
Standing in the shadow of his own end zone, Sampson dropped back and hit Javon Jones perfectly in stride for a 86-yard touchdown. The First Baptist home crowd fell silent as Jones strolled into the end zone untouched. Lions coaches took off their headsets, crossed their arms and looked around, completely exasperated.
Sampson was recruited to Quincy by running backs coach Craig Crouthamel, who has a long history with high school football in southwest Florida.
Moore Haven’s offensive coordinator Brad Garrett graduated from Quincy and played quarterback during his time at the school.
The Terriers as a whole the last few years have played with a lot of emotion. Players really rode the ups and downs of each game. But Garrett says that L.J. helped provide a calm, cool presence on the sideline in the midst of the emotional ebbs and flows that happen every Friday night on football fields around Lake Okeechobee.
“I wish I could’ve had more than one year with L.J.” said Garrett. “I kind of walked into a blessing as an offensive coordinator. He really made my job in the beginning so much easier with just the type of person he is and how he handles himself.”