PORT COQUITLAM — B.C. high school football’s AAA Defensive Player of the Year was born to fill a middle linebacker’s cleats.
But more than anything, Terry Fox senior Alex Gagnon is just one of those guys who is a football player above and beyond any kind of positional designation you might happen to put beside his name.
And not just in games.
“You can tell on the practice field, too, because every play is intense,” marvelled head coach Tom Kudaba, just before grabbing his whistle and heading off to said practice Thursday, as the Ravens prepare to meet the Notre Dame Jugglers on Saturday (7 p.m.) under the dome in a B.C. high school AAA Subway Bowl Coastal semifinal contest.
The other Saturday semifinal at B.C. Place (4 p.m.) has Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies opposing Coquitlam’s Centennial Centaurs.
The AA Coastal semifinals, also part of the day, see Carson Graham against Langley (11 a.m.), and Robert Bateman against John Barsby (1:30 p.m.).
“We have to shut it down sometimes because he gets going a little too hard for some of the others,” Kudaba added. “You don’t want him to injure anyone. He is one of those kids that actually does everything at 110 per cent.”
Earlier this week, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Gagnon was tabbed as B.C. AAA football’s Defensive MVP, after averaging just shy of eight tackles per game at the engine room of a Ravens’ defence, coordinated by Jamie Clayton and Bruce Leitch, which en route to fashioning a 9-0 overall record, opened on an eight-game tear in which it pitched five shutouts and allowed seven or fewer points in each of the remaining three.
And, of course, he loves what his position at the heart of the defence asks him to do.
“Being the middle linebacker, I definitely think of myself as the quarterback of the defence,” Gagnon says. “I am the voice. I get everyone lined up as far as the linebackers and defensive line go. I call the plays. I keep everyone in check.”
But like we said, Gagnon is a football player first, and thus is pretty adept at playing different roles, including moving over to a primary role on offence if needed, despite the every-snap physicality he faces at middle linebacker.
Over the first two games of the season, tailback Gavin Whittingham was coming back from an injury, and thus Kudaba expanded Gagnon’s role on offence to include that of a workhorse fullback.
Gagnon broke 100 yards in both games, including the second game, a 21-7 win at South Delta in which he not only rushed 15 times for 103 yards and a score, but also led the team with nine solo tackles.
“His love for the game is the most important thing,” Kudaba says of his Gagnon. “He is serious about this. He studies the game. He studies his opponents. He has some loftier goals, too.”
For now, however, nothing would be bigger than coming out of Saturday with a victory, and with it the right to practice with purpose with his teammates for one more week.
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