FAIRFIELD — Logan Fortin was looking forward to a big senior season with the Lawrence High School football team. John Hersom, Lawrence’s coach, was expecting a big senior season from Fortin.

It took one play in a preseason exhibition game for Fortin’s expectations to change. For the linebacker and tight end, it went from never coming off the field to just trying to get on it.

Early in Lawrence’s exhibition game against Massabesic, Fortin injured his shoulder while making a tackle. He missed the first two games of the regular season, at Mt. Blue and at Marshwood, returning in Week 3 to help the Bulldogs beat Brewer. An all-Pine Tree Conference Class B selection last season at tight end and linebacker, Fortin’s injury has prevented him from playing defense since his return. The senior is playing strictly on offense, and is trying to make the most of it.

“I was hoping to get a little bit more than I can right now. We’re trying to make it less likely for me to get hurt again.,” Fortin said before Wednesday’s practice. The Bulldogs are preparing to host conference rival Brunswick Friday night. “I mean, I miss (defense) quite a bit.”

At the other end of the coaches office, Hersom looked up and chimed in, expecting his senior captain to sugarcoat his feelings.

“Be honest,” Hersom said.

The honest truth is, Hersom said he was expecting a lot from Fortin, one of Lawrence’s top two-way players last season. In a preseason round robin scrimmage, Fortin saw a lot of contact, Hersom said, including a big collision in which he took on a lead blocker from Bangor. It was the first defensive series the following Friday against Massabesic when Fortin realized his shoulder wasn’t right.

“He felt like something was going on,” Hersom said.

After sitting out the first two games of the season, Fortin returned to face Brewer, wearing a brace on his injured right shoulder. Fortin’s blocking helped the Bulldogs average close to 9.5 yards per carry in a 46-8 win. He’s played offense in each game since, and was a key blocker in Lawrence’s come-from-behind, 17-14 win at Winslow Saturday.

Fortin hasn’t impacted the team’s passing attack this season, unlike the previous two, thanks in small part to shoulder mobility issues with the brace — “It’s a little bit harder to reach out, but it’s not too bad,” Fortin said — as well as to game plans, Hersom said. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Coombs is learning on the job, while last season, veteran starter Braden Ballard was running the offense.

“With a young quarterback and with some young receivers, we were taking it slow. We didn’t want to put too much on our quarterback and on our kids. Having Ballard for two and a half years certainly gave us more options in the pass game. That was primarily the reason for the slow introduction to the pass game,” Hersom said.

In Lawrence’s running game, Fortin’s size and speed can be use to block not just at the line of scrimmage, but downfield to extend plays.

“We feel we can use him in a few formations as what we call a flex tight end. He’s a big body and he can actually get out and block on the second level defender, and I think that becomes an advantage,” Hersom said. “Some of those second level defenders aren’t the size of him (Fortin is 6-foot-31, 185 pounds). We like to use him that way.”

It’s hard to quantify how much Fortin’s absence on defense has meant, but Hersom knows it’s felt. Playing linebacker, Fortin was in the middle of everything the Bulldogs did.

“I’m not losing faith in the guys who have stepped in, but certainly when you have a two-year plus returning linebacker, you’re going to feel that loss,” Hersom said. “Against all the good running teams, he would make a ton of tackles, whether they’d be downfield or whether they’d be right in his area. We miss the number of tackles he would make, and certainly there’s a half dozen plays per game we could almost expect he’d make.”

What hasn’t been diminished at all is Fortin’s leadership ability, Hersom added. When Fortin could play or practice, he made sure to help his replacements prepare to take the field.

“I wasn’t focused on not playing. I was trying to help any way that I could,” Fortin said. “I’m trying not to aggravate it. I’m trying not to overextend. I’m going as hard as I can.”

“I look at him as a classic throwback player. Unassuming, hard working and responsible. He doesn’t say too much. We don’t get those kind of kids, a handful every season,” Hersom said. “We’ve had some seniors, they couldn’t be on the field. They had important roles. We asked Logan to be that model those two weeks he was out, coaching his replacements up and being engaged. We’re fortunate he’s back even on one side of the ball.”

Fortin was asked, with three games left in the regular season, plus whatever playoff run Lawrence could make, does he expect to play any defense this season?

Fortin answered with a shrug of the shoulder, which is carrying as much as it can.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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