Time is now for LePage, Sabers

AMHERST – When Mike Lochman took over as head coach of the Souhegan High School football team two winters ago, he started watching film of the players he’d be coaching.

Knowing that all but one starter from the varsity was graduating, Lochman didn’t waste much time heading for the sub-varsity teams and it didn’t take long for him to find someone he liked on the junior varsity film.

“The very first guy who stood out in the first film I watched,” Lochman said, “in terms of grading players on their ability to help us on varsity, was George (LePage) as a defensive lineman. It was plus after plus on the grading. I said this was a kid I’ve got to go meet.”

Lochman found LePage, then a sophomore, in the weight room not long after, telling him that if he worked at he could be key part of the team by his senior year. Now, not only is LePage one of the team’s top lineman, he’ll be the lone senior captain for the 2014 season, along with juniors Mike Mancini and Nick Truchon.

LePage took his coach’s words to heart, using it as motivation to achieve something he had wanted as a freshman.

“I’ve been looking forward to (being a captain) when I was a freshman,” LePage said. “You look up to kids like Alex Price, Jake Kennedy and Tyler Ford. It was something I strived to be because I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to get better and better, and hope that I could show that to other people, that I was deserving of leading them.”

While he didn’t start as a sophomore, LePage did get some playing time with the varsity, putting him a rare class when the 2013 season began. But although he had some varsity experience, LePage still had to learn the new offense Lochman brought with him.

“There’s a bit of a learning curve,” LePage said. “In seventh and eighth grade, we were running the straight-T and it’s the same thing every time. The spread (as a freshman and sophomore), you’re either stepping back and pass blocking or kick stepping, or it’s a zone read, as long as you can figure that out.

With this, there’s rules and kind of a zone, and it’s everything coming together as one. That was confusing last year, but having that, I don’t have to worry about the basics. I can worry about perfecting the stuff that I struggled with last year.”

And just as importantly, LePage can share that knowledge with his teammates, whether its off the field, or on it, which is one reason why the coaching staff will keep him at guard on offense.

“We had toyed around with moving him to tackle because he’s a big powerful guy,” Lochman said. “We decided we wanted to leave him at guard because he’s between the center and the tackle and in a better position to make calls to both of those players.

“If he was a tackle, he’s really only talking to the guard. Our line, in large part because of his leadership, is one
of our strengths.”

LePage is hoping that strength can be part of what gets the Sabers back to where they were for so many years.

While Souhegan had down year a season ago – the Sabers were 2-7 and missed the playoffs for just the second time in 16 years – the players haven’t forgotten what this program expected every year.

“It’s Souhegan and they won championships and they beat everybody,” he said.

“That fires up everyone every day. Just looking at the other teams in the division, we have legacies against those teams and we don’t want to be the ones to lose that. It fires us up to try to match but surpass what teams have done at our school.”