84th DREAM GAME: Old Forge’s Souryavong Carries On Family Tradition

July 15, 2018

Five years ago, each and every week, from the sweltering heat of summer practice through the bitter chill of winter, Lexus Souriyavong could be found on the Old Forge football team’s sideline. An eager and excitable budding future Blue Devil, his playing days were stalled when the school mothballed its freshman program because of a lack of participation. Lexus far exceeded the weight limits of junior football and, as an eighth-grader, hadn’t reached eligibility for the varsity team. He found a way to contribute as the team manager and lead supporter as Old Forge and his cousin Corey Souryavong made a memorable run to the PIAA Class 1A championship game in Hershey. In the years that followed, Lexus took the lessons and his experiences and used them to his advantage in his four-year career. He pounded the weights and fed off his high energy to become a force for the Blue Devils. On Wednesday night, he will continue to build his family’s legacy when he takes the field at John Henzes/Veterans Memorial Stadium as a member of the County all-stars who will take on the City in the 84th Scranton Lions Club Dream Game. “The older kids really brought me up (in 2013) to stay with the practices to make sure I would stick with the sport,” Lexus said. “I really enjoyed it making that state run with them. They taught me a lot. “Corey was just a dominant player on and off the ball. Offense he was magnificent, defense he was unstoppable. Learning from what they did, really pushed me to do better.” During Old Forge’s 14-2 season in 2013, Lexus, whose father, Xay, emigrated from Laos in Southeast Asia to the United States, took in every practice and game, stoking his desire to lead the program to similar success. His early influences came from his cousin Brandon Souryavong, who earned Lackawanna Football Conference Division III all-star honors as an offensive lineman and linebacker. Then, Corey Souryavong, Brandon’s brother, emerged as a ferocious interior lineman who combined size, strength and speed to become a key cog in the Old Forge juggernaut that won District 2 Class 1A titles in 2013 and 2014. Back then, Lexus showed the desire to be a worthy successor in the family legacy. “He’s always been the type to learn and improve,” Brandon said. “I could remember it as if it were yesterday, all the days he would come over the house after school or practice and try to improve on anything he could, whether it was academics or athletics.” As a senior, a season where he and Lexus were teammates, Corey had 78 tackles, 27 of which were for loss with six sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on his way to being named all-state. He has since gone on to be a standout at Assumption College. “When I was younger, I always learned that Blue Devils never quit,” Lexus said. “They always worked hard. In the weight room, everyone is cheering each other on. “My freshman year, I rotated in a lot pushing myself to work harder trying to be a starter. Sophomore year, I got the start, so it was a great opportunity for me to push. Especially learning from my two older cousins.” With his two mentors having graduated, the honor of wearing No. 58 passed down to Lexus, the 5-foot-7, 235-pound powder keg of the Blue Devils defense. He made contributions in his sophomore season when Old Forge fought its way to a district title and the PIAA Class 1A semifinals. Lexus finished with 11 tackles with five being for loss. As a junior, though, the Blue Devils lost six of their final seven games to finish 4-7. Falling short of expectations, Lexus became intensely focused. He dominated games as a defensive tackle and a guard as the Blue Devils steamrolled to a 9-1 record in the regular season. “I am extremely proud of Lexus on how much he accomplished and how much of an honor it is for him to play in the Dream Game this year,” Corey said. “I knew he would make the team because he’s always been a hard worker pushing himself to his limits when we played together. “I believe he’ll make some big plays out there for the team.” After Old Forge won another District 2 Class 1A championship, the team finished with a record of 40-12 in Lexus’ four seasons. He earned LFC Division III first-team all-star honors at defensive tackle and a second-team nod as a guard. “Hopefully, I got the honors I received (by) working hard and not giving up,” Lexus said. “The Dream Game is a great experience. Playing against these guys and playing with them is a new challenge basically learning a whole new offense and defense. “But, it’s simple and it’s fun and it’s a great honor.” This week, Lexus brought his Old Forge pride with him to practice for the County all-star team. He, again, is motivated by his family, and hopes to exceed their Dream Game accomplishments. Brandon had a team-high five tackles and forced a fumble in a 19-7 loss to the City in 2011. Corey led the County defense with six tackles in a 41-6 loss at the 2015 game. “I’ve enjoyed watching his career through the years,” Brandon said. “He’s always exceeded expectations and I congratulate him on his standout performance. I’m grateful for the representation of Souryavongs on the field, from my brother Corey to my cousin Lexus, and joyful for the future in my cousin Tommy.” A dynamic, fleet-footed receiver and kick returner, Tommy Soriyavong, will be in the bleachers for the Dream Game as his brother’s most ardent fan and is ready to accept the relay baton and carry on the family’s championship tradition. “I’m very proud of him and excited that he is in the Dream Game,” Tommy said. “I look up to him. He is a hard worker and he is a great role model on and off the field.” Contact the writer: jbfawcett@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9125; @sportsTT on Twitter

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