MADISON — Scott Franzose knows that his Madison football players will occasionally tune him out as he talks and talks and talks during film sessions. Franzose also knows that one of the team’s most important players, senior quarterback Eric Wescott, is likely absorbing every word.

“I made a joke. When I’m talking about things, I said, ‘I know you guys love listening to me talk all the time.’ Eric kind of stopped and said, ‘Actually, I do, coach.’ He’s sincere that way,” Franzose said. “Eric’s biggest thing, I think, is his spirit. He’s been through tremendous adversity. He’s absolutely one of the best positive leaders we’ve had. He’s just a good kid. He has a genuine love for the game.”

It’s been just over two years since a life-threatening accident nearly took football away from Wescott. It’s been months since he made the transition from running back to quarterback of the Bulldogs. In seven games running Madison’s spread offense, Wescott has grown into his new position, throwing for 655 yards and five touchdowns, and running for 877 yards and 11 scores.

Wescott and Madison close the regular season Friday night at home against Spruce Mountain. The Bulldogs are 4-3, and in a tight Campbell Conference Class D can clinch a home game in the first round of the playoffs with a win.

“I always knew as a runner, I’d be OK. It was my passing that I knew I needed to work on. I continue to work on it each week. Coach (Franzose) points things out on film that I can improve on,” Wescott said.

Wescott knows that an accident on his sport utility vehicle in the summer 2016 nearly derailed all of it.

Wescott was driving a Polaris Ranger on the trails behind his house, with a friend visiting from Georgia. He went too fast around a sharp corner and the vehicle rolled 100 feet. When it finally came to a stop, Wescott was pinned under the vehicle, with numerous broken ribs, and a pelvis broken in five places.

“It was just something foolish,” Wescott said.

He spent the summer in a wheelchair.

Football? Any sports were secondary to learning how to walk again. His mother, Laurie Wescott, a physical therapist, helped with the rehab. Wescott’s football teammates helped with the mental.

“I was just destroyed by that, because I’d never missed a sports season before. That football team really got me through that hard time for me,” Wescott said.

Wescott returned to play basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring, with no lingering effects from the accident. Franzose said he had seen Wescott as a future quarterback when he noticed the athletic running back on the Madison junior high team.

“Watching him play, you see he’s that dual threat, and that’s what I look for in my offense. We always talk about, athlete first over a passer. He’s got that running back in him,” Franzose said. “First and foremost, I look for that leader. I’ve had plenty of good ones. I’ve had Chase Malloy and Evan Bess, and Eric has always fit that mold.”

Franzose felt Wescott had the skill set, but he also had returning starter Bess ahead of him on the depth chart. Last season, Wescott served as Bess’ backup while playing running back, sharing carries with eventual Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist Sean Whalen. Coming off his injuries from the accident, Wescott was a little nervous. For the first play of the season last year at Foxcroft Academy, Franzose called Wescott’s number. It went for a long touchdown run.

Wescott knew then he would be fine. After taking his first big hit, he flashed his mother a thumbs up to help put her at ease.

In the offseason, Wescott prepared for his new position by attending the passing camp run by Cony coach BL Lippert. Wescott worked on passing drills at the camp and learned how to read defensive coverages through watching film.

“I learned a lot from that, and I learned a lot from coach (Franzose). I learned a lot from Evan, too,” Wescott said, adding he’s also discussed quarterbacking with old friend Marcus Christopher, Skowhegan’s standout quarterback. “We’ve gone over film together after games and we’ve helped each other out. A lot of people have helped me adjust to this and it’s really paid off.”

Madison opened the season with a shutout loss to defending Class D state champion Wells. In Week 2, a 47-7 win at Class C Waterville, Wescott ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns, and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chris Melancon. In a 47-34 win over Oak Hill in Week 5, Wescott ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns, and threw for 112 yards.

Last week, Wescott was instrumental in the Bulldogs’ 28-22 come-from-behind win at Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale. Wescott accounted for 300 yards of offense, running for 153 and passing for 147, with three touchdown passes and a touchdown run.

“He’s developing very well, now that he’s settling in and being that starting quarterback. I don’t intend on my quarterbacks running the ball 20 times a game, but as we found fits in the backfield trying to find that right combination, he’s really that guy I lean on. I expect he’s our best downhill runner, because he’s a gamer,” Franzose said. “In the passing game, he’s running our RPO (run-pass option) system very well. He’s starting to settle in there, and that’s encouraging heading into the playoffs… Now he’s getting those (reps) and he’s doing a great job with a very short learning curve, to be honest. He’s very focused on getting the job done. He’s a great football guy. He loves to learn.”

Wescott studies game film using the online service Hudl as much as he can. After the win at Winthrop, he watched the game film with his family. Explaining what he sees to them helps Wescott better understand the position and improve, he said. This week’s opponent, Spruce Mountain, is tough, he said. A win keeps the Bulldogs home for the first round of the playoffs. With that in mind, Wescott will keep working to get better.

“We know we can be one of the top teams in this conference,” he said. “We all work together, we’ve all been playing together.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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