New Coach, New Team, Same Winning Mentality


On February 24, 2023, Canyon’s offensive coordinator and assistant head football coach, Nate Leonard was promoted to head football coach and school athletic director after Travis Bush’s departure earlier this year. Leonard, 31, was an offensive lineman at nearby college UTSA from 2010 to 2014, being the first player to play every game during his tenure in school history and being named the 2013-14 Conference USA Scholar-Athlete of the Year for football. 

“I was super excited about it,” Leonard stated when asked how he felt when he got the news of his promotion. “I came here in the spring of ‘21 and immediately fell in love with the people, fell in love with the community. Obviously, the student-athletes are great; all the students are great. I love all the organizations; I want to be involved with all the organizations. I want to be here-I want to be at Canyon, so for the administration to put their faith in me to lead the athletics program was really exciting for me,” Coach Leonard said while elaborating on how much this job means to him.

The 2022 offense was explosive, recording 3059 total passing yards and 3.1 passing touchdowns per game, and 149.1 rushing yards per game with 18 total rushing touchdowns this most previous season. Leonard plans on keeping this fast and hard attack plan going this year.

“It’s a multiple offense, so that means that we vary the formations and the personnel, but ultimately we want it to appear complicated for defenses but simple for our guys so that we can play fast and attack weaknesses of the defense,” Leonard explained when asked how he plans on running the offense. Along with that, every team inevitably loses key pieces at some point, and unfortunately this year a lot of starters are gone due to graduation, but fortunately, this leads to younger classmen now having the chance to develop and play at a higher skill level. ”Well, we’re losing some key players. We’re losing some key players on both sides of the ball,” Leonard explained, “and so that’s where we have to be great coaches and great teachers, so it’s just preparing those young men who are filling those roles to be the best that they can be and keep our offense, defense, and special teams producing the way that we know they can.”

Speaking of seniors leaving, this means new leaders will have to step up. Coach Leonard has already noticed a few juniors filling in the roles of the seniors. “We have Deuce Adams, a junior, going to be a senior. He’s a phenomenal leader, and he showed that this season.” Adams, the starting quarterback, recorded 3007 total passing yards and improved his completion percentage from .508% to .669% this season. “Pola Nuu is a phenomenal leader as well. He’s the center, and he stepped up and really took on his own competition team and did really, really well.” Nuu, the starting center, helped Adams get his improvement by leading the line that protects him each play. “And then even Eli Adams, he’s a wide receiver, and he leads by example, and that’s what we love. We love that there are different types of people who can lead. We feel like you can lead anywhere in the program, whether you’re a starter, or whether you’re not a starter, whether you’re vocal or whether you’re not, you can still lead in the program.” Eli, Deuce’s brother, recorded 848 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns including a last-second overtime catch to win the first game of the season. 

Whether the student-athletes like it or not, all football programs have a summer program to get ready for the upcoming season. Coach Leonard explained how his program will work, “So, we have a four days a week summer strength and conditioning program that really focuses on getting bigger, faster, and stronger and preparing our young people to take the field in the fall and not have any setbacks.” While this seems like a simple program, anyone who has seen Canyon play or practice in any sort of way recently knows this will be one of the most energetic and intense summer programs in the state mixed in with a little bit of fun here and there.  

Passion, determination, and grit are all the words that would use to describe the football program here at Canyon, and everyone here knows, Coach Leonard will not be lacking in any of those areas, nor will his teams, whether it’s the freshman B team or Varsity. Canyon is lucky to have Coach Leonard as our next head coach and athletic coordinator.