Cody Potter always believed that, when called upon, he could make big plays with his arm as Windham High’s quarterback.
Chances were often tough to come by in his first two varsity seasons, though, playing in the run-heavy wing-T offense that the Jaguars rode to three state title games and 68 wins in nine seasons under coach Bill Raycraft.
“I always knew I had the ability to air it out,” said Potter. “At Windham we were always a run-first team and that worked. But when we opened it up and started slinging it around a little last fall, my confidence sky-rocketed. I thought, ‘OK, we can do this.’ It was such an exciting senior year.”
Potter emerged as a star last fall — his third as Windham starter — leading the Eagle-Tribune area in touchdown passes (21), while finishing third in the region in passing yards with 1,422 in nine games (6-3), three fewer games than area leader Jake McElroy (1,590 passing yards).
Now, Endicott College recruit Potter will have one more chance to throw the ball in a Windham helmet.
Potter will play quarterback for the New Hampshire squad in the 66th annual Maple Sugar Bowl against the Vermont all-star team. The game will be played on Saturday (5:30 p.m.) at Castleton University (Vt.).
“I’m so pumped for the game,” said Potter. “We’re staying in the Castleton dorms together and the team is bonding really well. It means so much to be seen as a good enough player and person to be selected to a game like this, with a cause as important as the Shriners.”
Potter will certainly have the trust of the man coaching the New Hampshire team — his former Windham head football coach and recently-hired Malden Catholic athletic director and interim football coach Bill Raycraft.
“Cody had a great career for us,” said Raycraft. “He was a three-year starter who worked as hard as anyone to progress through each of those seasons. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who was dangerous with his arms and legs, and led us to some huge wins.”
Potter delivered solid seasons for Windham as a sophomore (763 yards, 9 TDs passing) and junior (488 yards, 11 TDs passing), helping the Jaguars to an 18-2 record in Division 2.
With the move up to Division 1 last fall, Potter began to sense he would be asked to do more as a senior.
“We found out during camp that we were going to sling the ball around a little,” he said. “We were still run-first. But, playing against the physically bigger teams in Division 1, it was going to be hard to pound the ball as much as we had. So we started to throw more, and it opened this up for the offense.”
In the Jags’ opener, against defending Division 1 state champ Winnacunnet, Potter threw for what was then a career-best 149 yards and a touchdown. Windham lost, but the QB’s confidence grew.
“We started to throw and made a few big plays,” he said. “I could feel the adrenalin because I saw that I could make plays like that. That made it easier after that.”
Potter’s biggest days came against the best competition.
He threw for 207 yards and four touchdowns as Windham topped budding archrival Salem, then threw three more touchdowns as the Jaguars shocked perennial power Pinkerton, which would go on to make the Division 1 title game.
“To go out and beat powerhouses like Pinkerton and Salem meant so much,” he said. “They are two of the top teams in the state, and to go out and beat them in our first year in Division 1 was crazy.”
Potter was named an Eagle-Tribune All-Star and All-New Hampshire Division 1 South last fall, as the Jags finished 6-3, just missing out on a state tournament berth. Next up, he will continue his football career at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.
“Having three beaches nearby is a plus,” Potter said with a laugh. “Endicott is a great school with a great football program. Coach (Paul) McGonagle is someone I feel comfortable trusting with my future. It’s a strong team, and the campus is jaw-dropping.”
But first, Potter hopes to lead New Hampshire to a win in the Maple Sugar Bowl. Vermont has won three straight after New Hampshire took a stunning 15 in a row.
“The main goal is to win,” he said. “People are saying that the New Hampshire team isn’t the same as it was because we’ve lost a few in a row. We’re coming for Vermont, and are ready to take control of the game again.”
Raycraft to coach MC
Longtime Windham High football coach Bill Raycraft has been named interim head football coach for Malden Catholic for the 2019 season. The school announced the news on Tuesday.
Raycraft was hired as Malden Catholic athletic director in May after stepping down as Windham AD and football coach in March.
Malden Catholic football coach Bryan Pinabell stepped down earlier this month to take the Bishop Feehan job.
As Windham head coach, Raycraft built at 68-23 record in nine seasons.
“The school administration explored many options over the past few weeks,” said MC headmaster John K. Thornburg in a press release. “It became clear that few coaches out there bring to the table the professionalism, integrity, and record of success that Bill does.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.