WINDHAM – Cody Laberge knew he had big shoes to fill when he took over as Windham High’s starting quarterback this season. After all, he was replacing an All-State quarterback in Jackson Taylor, who led the Eagles to the Class A state championship last season.

No one expected the Eagles to be anything like last year’s team. But Laberge has done a remarkable job taking over for Taylor, who is a freshman on the University of Maine football team.

It has been Laberge’s team this season, and the 6-foot-2 senior has carried the offense with his running and passing. Laberge leads the team in rushing and his passing has given Windham (4-4) an added dimension.

The Eagles, who won their last two games to gain the eighth seed in the Western Class A playoffs, will be at top-ranked and unbeaten Cheverus (8-0) in the quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Windham is a much improved team from the one that lost to Cheverus 28-0 on Sept. 10.

“They’ve improved too, but I feel that if we play like we’ve been playing, we can be competitive,” said Laberge. “I think we can move the ball.”

While his teammates and coaches were aware of his running ability last season when he ran the second team in practice, doing it in a Class A football game is something different.

Laberge had his breakout game three weeks ago, running for a touchdown and passing for two more in a 21-19 loss to then unbeaten Bonny Eagle.

Laberge riddled the Scots’ defense with his running out of the spread formation. He feels comfortable in the spread because it’s easier to pick up the running lanes.

“I didn’t know Cody was this good of a runner,” said Coach Matt Perkins.

“He’s a big, physical kid who wants the ball. He’s carried the load both in running and passing. He has a great arm and sees the routes develop before they get open. He’s done a great job leading us.”

Laberge has a unique running style.

He leans forward like he’s going to tumble over, but manages to stay upright, break tackles and with his long strides, can cover a lot of ground in a short time.

“He doesn’t waste any extra motion when he runs,” said wide receiver Drew Gagnon. “He runs north and south.”

In his first two seasons, Laberge received his share of good-natured ribbing from the coaches on his running.

“Coach Perkins said after my freshman year as he looked ahead to next season, “How can I start a kid at cornerback who looks like he’s going to fall over when he runs?’ ” said Laberge.

Laberge has started in the secondary since his sophomore year.

Last season he returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown against Portland.

“That was the highlight of my season until we won the state title,” said Laberge.

“It was such a long season and then when we won it, it was pretty amazing. I think it put Windham on the map as a football community.

“There are a lot of families who love watching their kids play. When I started playing youth football, there were two teams in Windham. Now we have six.”

Laberge started playing football in the third grade.

“My father told me he could tell I liked it by the look in my eyes the first time I had contact,” said Laberge.

Laberge was a natural defensive player who has evolved as a quarterback.

He played quarterback in youth football but knew with Taylor a year ahead of him, he would have to wait until his senior year to start.

Laberge is making the most of his opportunity.

“It’s been challenging,” he said. “It’s hard to replace an All-State quarterback. I’m trying to fill those shoes as best I can.”

No one would argue that he hasn’t while also making a name for himself.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]