Ex-Ledyard QB Trudel earns title of 'Johnny Touchdown' at Mass Maritime

Ex-Ledyard quarterback John Trudel has come off the bench to play a major role as the 'red zone' QB at Massachusetts Maritime Academy this season.
Ex-Ledyard quarterback John Trudel has come off the bench to play a major role as the "red zone" QB at Massachusetts Maritime Academy this season.

John Trudel admits his role is a bit strange.

When the Massachusetts Maritime football team reaches the red zone, Trudel - the back-up quarterback - enters the game.

He replaces starter Mike Stanton, who holds numerous school passing records.

"It's a bizarre setup," said Trudel, a junior from Niantic.

It's also a productive setup both for the former Ledyard High School standout and Mass Maritime.

In his 79 plays from scrimmage this season, Trudel has scored 15 touchdowns - nine passing and six rushing - for the Buccaneers, who entered last weekend ranked second in Division III in total offense at 582.6 yards per game.

Trudel accounted for the game-winning touchdown in a 54-53 win over Western Connecticut on Oct. 12, scoring on a three-yard run with four minutes remaining. It was his second game-winning touchdown this season.

In last week's 37-27 loss at Westfield State, his three completed passes (he attempted five) all went for TDs. He also rushed 21 yards on four carries.

Just call him Johnny Touchdown.

"It's pretty wild," Trudel said. "It's been working out so far and so good."

According to Mass Maritime coach Jeremy Cameron, a two-quarterback system is necessary to run his up-tempo attack that averages about 100 plays per game.

Plus, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Trudel is too talented and too valuable to keep on the bench.

"We're fortunate we have two quarterbacks we feel are really good players," Cameron said. "We have a player a year older than John who's done some really good things. But John's talent is too good to ignore, so we needed to find a role for him. He's a capable passer and a really good runner as well.

" John could be the starting quarterback at almost any other school in the conference. He's really good. When we put him in, he's the focal point."

Mass Maritime has fit as comfortably as an old sweatshirt for Trudel, on and off the field.

Trudel first met Cameron at the Boston College football camp, which he attended for four years starting the summer before his freshman year in high school. He spent his first three high school years at Xavier before switching to Ledyard for family reasons.

Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore recommended Trudel to Cameron. The two coaches are friends from their Springfield College days.

The college's emergency management major appealed to Trudel. "Everyone wants to go pro but the likelihood is not high," he said. "It seemed to be a good fit, academically and athletically."

His role has evolved since coming to Mass Maritime. Last season he started to be a factor off the bench, rushing for five and passing for five touchdowns. Overall, 20 percent of his passes went for scores. He ranked third on the team in rushing with 196 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry.

What he didn't expect to do in college was become the starting punter. The Buccaneers punt out of an offensive formation, so the versatile Trudel is a threat to do just about anything, putting a lot of pressure on the opposition. He's averaging 38.8 yards per punt in 14 attempts this season.

Funny thing is he rarely punted at Ledyard.

"I did try a little bit in high school but they didn't want me getting hit unnecessarily," Trudel said. "It was nothing I practiced, or thought I was that good at. It just came easy (at Mass Maritime)."

With Stanton graduating, Trudel will likely take over the starting job next season.

Until then, Trudel will have to wait until the Buccaneers reach the red zone to enter the game. He's rushed for 160 yards on 43 carries and completed 21-of-36 passes for 189 yards and been intercepted twice so far this season.

Cameron knows he can always count on Trudel.

"He's always ready," Cameron said.



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