As the quarterback takes the snap and drops back into his reads, a defensive back does the same; following the quarterback’s eyes and preparing for any route a receiver might throw at them. As the ball is released, the defender makes a play on it hoping that he is in a position to come up with an interception in a sport where turnovers could dictate the outcome of a game.
In the history of the Pittsburgh Power, no player has more interceptions in a single season than defensive back Chris LeFlore. After picking off John Dutton on the first defensive play of the game, LeFlore tallied his sixth interception which broke the old single season record previously held by Josh Lay.
So how does LeFlore always seem to be around the ball and in the right spot to make a play? He attributes his field smarts to film study where he can get a feel for the opponent’s gameplan.
“We have a website that we go to that breaks down everything,” LeFlore said. “What I try to do is get a beat on the formations and how the quarterback throws the ball and the tendencies of the play calling.”
Understanding your opponent and being a student of the game has really benefited LeFlore. Take, for instance, his record breaking pick against Cleveland. By knowing the Gladiators’ tendencies on offense he was able to come up with a big turnover early in the game.
“I knew they got to midfield,” LeFlore said. “I just know that once teams get to midfield and get some momentum, they’re going to take a shot.
“I knew it was going to be a post or corner and just stayed inside and made a play on the ball.”
It has been his determination and work ethic that has helped him throughout his entire football career. After high school, LeFlore walked on to powerhouse Nebraska before transferring to Northwest Missouri State. As a rookie in the Arena Football League last season, LeFlore was able to record 59 tackles and inercept five passes. LeFlore hopes that his hard work will allow him to further his career at the next level.
“I just thank God for the opportunity that I have,” he said. “I go into things trying to work hard. It’s a sacrifice. I just try to be the hardest working person I can be.”
As a contributor to a successful playoff team in Dallas last year, LeFlore also has the experience to help turn the Power’s season around this year. Although he has had a great individual season so far this season, he expects the team to come together and play with more heart as they try to grind toward a playoff run.
“I learned from last year that it’s about the quality of the games you play in not about the quantity,” he said. “I take every game and every practice very seriously because you never know when it’s your last.”
With six interceptions through eight weeks, LeFlore is on pace to completely rewrite the Power’s history books. He said that when he was younger he earned the nickname “Gingerbread” because he was fast on the field and opponents would have to “catch him if they can.” Now, as he sits atop the franchise’s record for interceptions, a lot of players will have to try to catch him…if they can.