Athlete of the Week: L.J. Sampson

MOORE HAVEN — Moore Haven senior L.J. Sampson is this week’s Big Lake Athlete of the week for his performance in the Terriers’ playoff win over the First Baptist Academy Lions on Nov. 8.

Against the Lions Sampson completed 11 out of 14 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns.

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Moore Haven senior L.J. Sampson completed 11 out of 14 passes for 293 yards and five touchdowns against the First Baptist Academy Lions.

On paper, the Terriers headed into the game against First Baptist as underdogs. The Lions were undefeated in 2019, going 10-0 throughout the regular season. One of those wins came against the Terriers back on Oct. 25. First Baptist won that game 18-6 after the Terrier offense struggled to get things going against the Lions’ defense.

But while the Moore Haven offense struggled in their regular season match-up, the regional quarterfinal was a completely different story.

The Terriers found room on the ground and through the air against the Lions. The Moore Haven offensive line bullied the defenders from First Baptist in Naples, opening up huge gaps for the Terrier running backs. But Moore Haven has already had a lot of success running the ball this year. What truly let them run away in this game 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.

It just wasn’t the Lions’ night. The game belonged to the Terriers and Sampson, and they’d be the ones advancing in the playoffs despite First Baptist’s perfect record.

Sampson is a three-year starter at quarterback for the Terriers. He has developed more as this season has progressed and as he has gotten more opportunities to throw the ball.

“He really showed on Friday what he is capable of, and we hope he continues playing at a high level,” said Moore Haven coach Brent Burnside. “Our ability to now throw the ball allows us to take the pressure off of the run game and keep defenses guessing. He is a leader and his play has uplifted the team.”

To nominate an athlete for Big Lake Athlete of the Week, email Lake Okeechobee News sports reporter Richard Marion at

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment