TURNER, Maine — “Slash” became part of the football vernacular not long after Brian Bedard was born.
The original bearer of that nickname was Kordell Stewart, whom the 1990s Pittsburgh Steelers used as a wide receiver until he was deemed ready to be an NFL starting quarterback. It was then fashionably attached to any player whose versatility put a diagonal line on the roster through their two preferred positions.
Just don’t saddle Bedard with that moniker, because it would sell the Leavitt Area High School senior short.
In the Hornets’ season-opening 27-17 victory at Hampden Academy, Bedard played (deep breath) quarterback, tailback, slot receiver and wide-out. He also returned kicks.
As for his primary function Friday night at Libby Field against Belfast, well, that formula is as guarded as the recipes for KFC or Coca-Cola.
“We’ve got a few things cooking that we’re going to unleash,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “We’ve got guys lining up all over the place.”
Learning every position in Leavitt’s spread offense is a way of life for sophomores and juniors, most of whom find it’s their only chance to get on the field for a program that has won 34 consecutive Eastern Class B games.
Jordan Hersom waited in the wings behind Eric Theiss for two seasons, catching passes before he started throwing them on his way to the 2011 Fitzpatrick Trophy.
With Jake Ouellette locked in as Leavitt’s every-down tailback a year ago, then-senior Ian Durgin emerged as the change-of-pace utility man.
Bedard, who rallied from an early-season knee injury to start at slot receiver as a junior, inherited Durgin’s old role this season.
“The main thing is really to know your plays. If you know what’s going on, you get better playing time basically,” Bedard said. “When I started off, I learned a few plays in the slot that just got me the chance. Once you really grasp the offense, everything’s pretty easy to understand.”
Through middle school and his freshman year, Bedard was a quarterback, in part because nobody else at his grade level stepped up and embraced that position.
Leavitt’s plan at first was to keep him there, to the extent that when Hersom was out of state due to summer basketball commitments in 2010, Bedard was the Hornets’ starting quarterback for much of their summer 7-on-7 league.
With Hersom being only a year older, however, both Bedard and Hathaway saw the writing on the wall. Once his sophomore season started, Bedard was running quick slants instead of taking snaps.
“That forces you into learning some other skills to get on the field. He developed kind of as a receiver. Then as he got older he developed as a runner. Now he’s got this whole package,” Hathaway said. “The other team always has to pay attention to where he’s lined up. It takes some of their focus away from some other guys, and any time you’re doing that it takes away some of the focus of your whole defense really.”
Against Hampden, Bedard ran about four plays as quarterback, had seven carries out of the backfield and split his remaining time between slot and flanker.
He ran for a 19-yard touchdown to trigger a 21-point second quarter. In the final minute of the half, the attention he drew from the Broncos left Mitch Davis wide-open for a TD toss from Tyler Chicoine.
Bedard finished with more than 100 all-purpose yards — a career-high after waiting his turn on three consecutive Pine Tree Conference championship teams.
“I loved it. I knew I wasn’t the first option, but I didn’t mind. I would play behind Jake and Jordan any day,” Bedard said. “Now I’m seeing the ball a lot more. I like the opportunity.”
Bedard bulked up 15 pounds to 190 in the off-season, a size that would make him an offensive lineman on many Class B clubs.
OK, let’s not get too crazy. You won’t see the letters C, G or T next to any of Bedard’s slashes.
His willingness to make those kinds of sacrifices, though, is part of the big picture that makes Leavitt one of Maine’s model programs.
“You tell our guys something, they get it. The questions they ask are not things you typically hear,” Hathaway said. “That’s good for us. You can’t do some of the stuff we do unless your guys can handle it, and they can.”