The Jim Leonhard Award is given annually to the top senior defensive back as part of the WSN Senior Football Awards. The award is named after former Flambeau High School and University of Wisconsin athlete Jim Leonhard, who went on to great success in the NFL with the Bills, Ravens, Jets, Broncos, and Saints.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 15 semi-finalists, and seven finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state finals.
Jim Leonhard Award Finalists:
Bui Clements, Verona - A lockdown corner on the outside for Verona, Clements picked off 4 passes, had 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, 52 tackles, and recorded 6 pass breakups as a First Team All-Conference choice and the Big Eight Defensive Back of the Year, leading the conference in takeaways.
Trent Ingalls, Menasha - Ingalls is a returning WFCA All-State choice who put together another great campaign as a senior. The rangy athlete recorded 45 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1 sacks, and 4 passes defensed in the regular season for the Bluejays. "Every time he steps on the field he changes the game with his ability to limit the offense on run and pass," said head coach Jeramie Korth. "Trent is certainly the most talented defensive player we have ever coached."
Kaden Kauppinen, Sun Prairie - Another defensive nominee from Sun Prairie, Kaupinnen showed his versatility this season, lining up all over the field on both offense an defense. A two-year starter, he was a First Team All-Conference pick in the Big Eight after recording 6 interceptions. "He locked down the opposing team's best wide receiver all year," said head coach Brian Kaminski. "He allowed us to bring pressure because he would simply eliminate that receiver from a game plan for the offense." He is committed to North Dakota.
Travis Klassy, Mount Horeb/Barneveld - Klassy is a two-way standout for the Vikings who is tied for third in the state with 7 interceptions. A two-time unanimous First Team All-Conference pick in the Badger-North, he provides a security blanket for the team's defense. "Travis is tremendously instinctive and makes all of our coverage adjustments," said head coach Ryan Kleppe. "He is like a centerfielder in the back of our defense and continually makes an impact each week."
Craig Newsome, Jr., Holmen - Newsome, Jr. has been a lockdown corner for three seasons at Holmen, where he has been tasked with defending the opposing team's top receiver each week. "He doesn't ever have the big stats because teams have stopped challenging him," said head coach Travis Kowalski. "I would put him up against any wideout in the state without hesitation and I know he would be successful. I would not only say Craig is deserving of the top five, I would say he is the best in the state. Having personally played my entire high school career with Jim Leonhard I couldn't find a player that is more fitting for this award."
Chandler Pulvermacher, Arrowhead - Pulvermacher is a tall, rangy safety who excels playing in the box or back in pass coverage. An aggressive tackler, he recorded 57 stops this season while picking off 3 passes. "Stats don't tell the whole story on Chandler, however," said head coach Fritz Rauch. "For two years now Chandler has experienced schematic changes in our secondary, and during those years he has been responsible for recognizing the offensive sets and threat and making the correct adjustments in our defense." Pulvermacher received several D1 offers before committing to North Dakota State.
Lucas Statz, Waunakee - Statz was a consistent playmaker in the back end of the Waunakee defense, where he recorded 80 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles, scored 3 defensive touchdowns, blocked 4 kicks, had a safety, and broke up 12 passes. If that's not enough, he scored on three kick returns as the Warriors are unbeaten through Level 4.
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