Yarmouth High running backs Spencer LaBrecque, left, and Michael McGonagle have combined for more than 3,000 rushing yards this season. The 9-1 Clippers play Waterville for the eight-man Large School football state championship on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

YARMOUTH — At 6 feet, 200 pounds, Yarmouth’s Michael McGonagle is a tough running back to bring down. That’s assuming you get past his 6-2, 260-pound personal valet, Spencer LaBrecque, a nasty blocker and dangerous runner in his own right.

“It’s like running behind a building,” McGonagle said of running behind LaBrecque. “He just clears everybody out. … Spencer is a train. He’s scary, to be honest with you.”

All season, the backfield duo has given the Clippers the most dangerous running attack in the eight-man football Large School division. McGonagle and LaBrecque once again will be the focal point of Yarmouth’s offense on Saturday, when the Clippers (9-1) take on Waterville (6-3) in the large school state championship game at Augusta’s Cony High at 11 a.m.

The game against Waterville holds special interest for LaBrecque, who lived in Waterville until moving to Yarmouth in the third grade.

“That’s my hometown,” he said.

Nearly 82% of Yarmouth’s offense has come on the ground this season, and McGonagle and LaBrecque account for 86% of that rushing yardage. McGonagle, a junior, has 300 carries for 2,364 yards and 21 touchdowns. LaBrecque, a senior, has been used primarily as a blocking back, but he has 80 carries for 660 yards and 18 touchdowns.


Yarmouth doesn’t throw often, but both are involved in the passing game. McGonagle has 16 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown, while LaBrecque has 10 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Their contributions helped the Clippers lead the eight-man Large School division in scoring in the regular season, at just under 42 points per game.

Yarmouth running back Michael McGonagle breaks a tackle attempt during practice on Thursday. McGonagle, a junior, has 300 carries for 2,364 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“They’re talented. They’re driven. They’re the type of runner who thrives in my offense. That’s why we run the offense. We molded it for those guys,” said Yarmouth Coach Jim Hartman. “They’re both powerful backs. It takes three of four guys to tackle both of them. They compete. That’s the key, they compete. They’re always looking for another yard.

“Spencer could be Michael, but Spencer’s such a devastating blocker we put him at lead blocker, and Michael thrives running behind him. (Spencer) turns fourth-and-4 into fourth-and-1 for us. He’s quicker than Michael. Spencer’s probably the quickest guy on the field at any time.”

While LaBrecque has been used more often as a road-grading blocking back, his threat as a runner cannot be ignored by opponents who expect to slow down the Clippers by keying on McGonagle.

That was apparent on Yarmouth’s second play from scrimmage in last week’s 20-18 win over Mt. Ararat in the regional final. Quarterback Sam Bradford executed a fake handoff to LaBrecque, who was running hard straight up the middle. When the Eagles’ defense collapsed on LaBrecque to try to tackle him, Bradford pitched the ball to McGonagle, who sprinted untouched down the left sideline 65 yards for the game’s first touchdown.


“I’ve always been a larger kid with decent speed for my size. And I’ve never been afraid to hit,” LaBrecque said about his role in the offense. “(McGonagle’s) always been a fast kid. He’s never scared.”

Six-foot-2, 260-pound Yarmouth running back Spencer LaBrecque typically serves as a blocking back for teammate Michael McGonagle, but he’s rushed for 660 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

McGonagle and LaBrecque have played football together for eight seasons, and for much of that time have been each other’s biggest competition on the practice field. Practicing against LaBrecque every day has made him a better player, McGonagle said. It’s a friendly rivalry, and McGonagle is still happy to remind LaBrecque about the one time he beat his bigger teammate in a drill called Bear in the Cage, blocking LaBrecque out of a circle when they were in junior high.

“There’s only one time he beat me, and he’s never let me live that day down,” LaBrecque said.

Hartman said he enjoys watching the competition between the two.

“If one screws up, the other is going to let him know it,” Hartman said.

Both LaBrecque and McGonagle have been key players on Yarmouth’s defense, as well. A linebacker, LaBrecque has 58 tackles to go with an interception and pair of sacks. McGonagle, also a linebacker, has 46 tackles and five sacks.

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