WEST NEWBURY — The idea had been mentioned for years, but Chris Croteau never believed it would actually happen.
Could the Pentucket coaching staff really be considering moving Croteau, who is 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds on a good day, to the offensive line after starting for three years as a running back?
“Some of the coaches had been talking about it since I was a freshman,” said Croteau. “But I never really thought they were serious. Then, after the Masconomet game this season, coach (Steve) Hayden mentioned playing offensive line to me, and I realized there was a real chance it could happen.”
Just one week later, Croteau had changed his jersey number from No. 31 to No. 54 and was starting at guard for the Sachems. And the results have been better than anticipated.
Croteau quickly emerged as possibly the top offensive lineman for Pentucket, which tomorrow continues its improbable postseason run by hosting Bedford in the Division 4 North title game at 1:30 p.m.
“No one on this team has ever been in a game like this so everyone is really amped,” said Croteau, a Merrimac resident. “A lot of people were questioning us this season, but I really believed we were going to be a good team. I have played with a lot of these guys my whole life, so I believed in them. It’s really unreal, and a win (tomorrow) would be amazing.”
Growing up, playing offensive line was never a thought for Croteau, the star running back for the Pentucket Youth Football program.
“Of all the people I could have seen moving to offensive line, I never would have guessed it would have been Chris,” said longtime teammate and now linemate Reid Garrant, who is eight inches taller and 70 pounds heavier than Croteau.
“Chris was always a great running back in youth football. I have played with him since sixth grade, and I always thought he would be a running back.”