Thornton Academy quarterback Kobe Gaudette drops back to pass during the Trojans’ game against Lewiston last Friday night. CHAD DOYON PHOTOGRAPHY

Most high school coaches try to ease a quarterback into the starting role, but for Thornton Academy QB Kobe Gaudette it was pretty much trial by fire.
Gaudette was forced into the starting role for the Trojans’ Class A South semifinal playoff game against the defending state champions from Bonny Eagle last November.
All the then-sophomore signal caller would do is complete 9 of 12 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown as the Trojans picked up a 28-24 win.
“I was very nervous, but we had some great leaders and captains on that team,” said Gaudette.
The experience of stepping in on short notice came in handy this fall as Gaudette found himself as TA’s starter at the beginning of camp after the Trojans’ starting QB from last year abruptly transferred.
Thornton Academy coach Kevin Kezal knew he was in good hands with Gaudette under center — especially after watching him come through against Bonny Eagle last fall.
“I think what we learned is nothing fazes him. You know you step into a situation like that last year and to be able to perform and lead us to a victory in a playoff game, that just kind of showed what type of kid he is,” said Kezal.
The junior QB is a natural leader, according to Kezal.
“I think the thing you see is kids really rally around him. He’s a leader and kids play at a higher level around him and part of being a great leader is you make other players play at a higher level and he certainly does that,” Kezal said.
The TA signal caller is embracing that leadership role.
“Everybody looks at you, everybody follows you because you’re in the huddle talking. You’ve just got to play the role and step up,” said Gaudette.
Gaudette believes the experience from last year has helped prepare him for this season.
“Definitely just knowing the playbook and you kind of get the feel for it last year,” said Gaudette on what he learned in his two playoff starts last year.
Gaudette has guided the Trojans to a 2-0 start to this season with wins over Deering (70-0) and Lewiston (47-7). The junior tossed a pair of touchdown passes in last week’s victory.
Kezal has a feeling Gaudette will just get better and better as the season rolls along.
“I think every time out you learn something. I think the first game his timing was a little bit off. He was a little nervous against Deering and didn’t throw the ball real well, but then he rebounded last week and went 7-for-10 with over 100 yards throwing,” said Kezal. “It’s just one of those things where I think he works hard, takes a lot of pride in what he’s doing and I think he’s going to get better every time out.”
The Trojans have also been keeping Gaudette in the pocket through the first couple weeks, but teams may have to account for his legs as the season progresses, according to Kezal.
“Obviously we don’t want to run him 20 times a game early in the season if we don’t have to, but certainly he can hurt you a lot of different ways,” Kezal said. “He throws the ball well. He’s a good runner. He’s a very athletic kid, so certainly we can use him a variety of different ways.”
The Trojans have averaged more than 58 points per game in their first two outings, but Gaudette knows there is room for improvement.
“Just little things like every play needs to be 100 percent … we can definitely step it up to another level,” said Gaudette.
Both Gaudette and Kezal have been impressed with TA’s offensive line so far this season.
“They enjoy playing together. They communicate well. They take coaching very well and they are getting better every day. It’s a testament to them how far they’ve come so quickly,” said Kezal.
“Our line is getting there. They have really competed all year,” added Gaudette.
Gaudette also has plenty of talent around him as running backs like Isaac Ofielu and Julien Bailey Cottle and wide receivers Athan Gikas and Anthony Bracamonte certainly draw attention from opposing defenses.
“We’re spreading the ball around and that’s our goal all year,” said Kezal, who knows that a lot of teams will focus on Bracamonte’s home-run talent. “Certainly having Anthony being able to go the distance at any time (is huge).”
Gaudette is hoping all of that talent and the Trojans’ ability to beat teams in different ways will help them bring home some hardware.
“Get the ring,” said Gaudette on his goal for 2018.
Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @JournalTsports.

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