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Thursday, August 29, 2013
LeClair destined for breakout for No. 8 Brockton

By John Botelho

BROCKTON, Mass. -- If his junior year was any indication, Brockton High’s Aaron LeClair seems destined to be a breakout star for the No. 8 Boxers in 2013.

Last season, LeClair tackled many roles for the Big Three champs, seeing time as a running back, kick returner, punt returner and defensive back.

LeClair finished second on the squad in touchdowns with. He was second in rushing yards and total offense. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound running back averaged a whopping 7.17 yards per carry while rushing for more than 600 yards on 88 carries.

A shutdown defensive back for a stingy defense that led division one in points allowed, he pulled in two interceptions and led the team in pass defenses.

Electric as a return man, he averaged 23 yards per kickoff return, and an impressive 27 yards on punt returns -- including an 82-yard score against Pinkerton Academy.

“You look for guys like that, who are special, and try to get them every opportunity to take advantage of their talent,” said coach Peter Colombo. “Everything starts with physical abilities like that.

"We saw Micah Morel really emerge as a senior last year, and Aaron shows all the same promise. He’s already had two very good years and if he can take to the next level, it will be huge for us.”

LeClair’s stats hint toward the promise of a star year, almost as much as his bloodlines do.

“Aaron is the half-brother of the Thellens, Nate and Darren, who were tremendous players for us,” said Colombo. “He shows the same kind of football intellect that both older brothers possessed, and both those guys had great college careers and had tryouts at the big level.”

Before Nate played at Northeastern, and Darren at UMass, LeClair used to look up to both during their days playing at Marciano Stadium.

“I’ve always wanted to do it like them,” LeClair said. “It would be great if I can follow what they did.”

LeClair certainly will get ample opportunity to make his own name in a Boxers’ uniform this season, as the Boxers graduated much of their production from an offense that rushed for 3,232 yards on 472 carries during their runner-up Super Bowl showing. Led by star quarterback Austin Roberts, the Boxers graduated players who combined on 390 of the carries and 2,396 yards on the ground.

While much of last season’s talent were seniors -- the Boxers are replacing 18 starters this year -- LeClair proved to be one of the toughest to replace guys on the roster after he was inured in the team’s Big Three-clinching win over New Bedford in week 10. LeClair wouldn’t play another snap, making life easier on Brockton’s opponents.

“I think people kind of forget about how much we missed him last year after the New Bedford game,” Colombo said. “He was our second leading scorer behind Augie Roberts. I’m sure other coaches we played against were happy they didn’t have to worry about him because he is a game-breaking type of kid.”

Ready to shoulder the lion’s share of the load, LeClair also doesn’t plan to let the graduation of 18 seniors change the expectations for this year’s team. In fact, he has a simple message for anyone who doubts whether or not Brockton can create another magical season.

“Just wait for the season.”

2012: 9-4, Div. 1 Super Bowl runner-up
Coach: Peter Colombo (11th season, 86-33-1)
Strengths: Running back, linebacker, offensive line
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Varsity experience
Key Returnees: Aaron LeClair, Sr. RB, 5-8, 170 lbs; Aaron Monteiro, Jr. OG, 6-5, 295 lbs; Kervin Jean-Claude, Sr. LB, 6-0, 210 lbs; Max Castor, Sr. TE/DL, 6-0, 200 lbs.
Outlook: The Boxers saw five players -- Austin Roberts, Micah Morel, Joe Previte, Anthony Davis and Ryan Kelley -- who saw some varsity time in all four years graduate off of last year’s team, in addition to 18 starters. In 2013, they’ll lean on guys like LeClair and Kervin Jean-Claude, who made significant impacts a year ago, to lead the way. “Kervin had a great year for us at linebacker,” Colombo said. “He’ll be called on to be a leader on defense. Aaron has played on both sides of the ball for two years now.” Previte and Davis were both four-year starters on the offensive line, so filling those holes won’t be easy. Colombo is happy to have Aaron Monteiro ready to fill one of the roles, and believes there is plenty of reason to feel that way. “He obviously has the size that will attract some attention for the next level, but he has very good footwork already too,” Colombo. “We’re hoping down the road to get something out of him on defense too, but right now he’s going to play guard for us on the offensive line.” Even after graduating so many guys, there’s no reason to think this team can’t return to the playoffs this year, and they should be among the favorites to win D1 South.