In 2013, soon after winning the Class B state championship, the Cony football team showed up at Lincoln Elementary School in Augusta to spend time with the children of the community. One of the players present was Ben Lucas, the Fitzpatrick Trophy-winning quarterback, who soon found himself in the gym tossing a football with sixth-grader Adrian Larrabee, and talking with the youngster about everything from football to school to life.

It’s just like it was yesterday,” Larrabee said. “Ben was throwing me the ball, and now I’m here. I was watching them, and now I’m playing for them. … It’s crazy how time goes.”

Six years later, Larrabee is in his senior season as one of the best two-way players on a 4-0 Cony team, and a veteran presence on a team that badly needed one after graduating a deep senior class. On one side of the ball, Larrabee is the team’s leading receiver in his first year in the offense, and quarterback Riley Geyer’s go-to target. On defense, Larrabee slides over at corner, where he often goes head-to-head with the opponent’s best receiver — a battle, the rest of the Pine Tree Conference is finding out, he often wins.

Adrien Larrabee catches a pass during practice on Wednesday in Augusta. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

He has six touchdown receptions and two interceptions in four games, and coach BL Lippert said his rise has been one of the team’s best stories so far.

“He’s been outstanding,” he said. “He’s one of our best and probably most reliable receiver. He’s made some big plays … and still been very good on the defensive side. This year, it’s been awesome to see him contribute on both sides of the ball.”

Larrabee said he’s drawn by the challenges of both positions. Both revolve around winning a matchup, and Larrabee’s competitive instincts are able to take over.

I get pumped up either way,” he said. “I come out as a receiver, I read the corner, I look at what coverage they might be playing, and at corner I do the same thing. I read the receiver, and I love it. I just come out ready.”

Larrabee’s always had a knack for the game — but he needed a position. Originally a defensive end and running back, Larrabee came to Lippert at the start of his junior year and said he wanted to play cornerback. Lippert was skeptical, so Larrabee came back to him and told him he’d spent hours watching videos of Richard Sherman’s technique on YouTube.

He was talking about how to jam people at the line of scrimmage with your inside arm, and all this stuff that you hope kids do on their own to learn the craft,” Lippert said. “He really committed himself.”

The move worked, and Larrabee responded with an All-Conference season at corner. This fall, however, brought a new challenge. With so much depth at wideout last season, Larrabee only needed to play one side of the ball. This time, there was a need for pass-catchers to emerge, and Larrabee got his chance.

“(It took) just a little bit of coaching,” Lippert said. “We haven’t spent a ton of time with him on route-running. Sixty, seventy percent of that is just natural ability.”

The result has been an ideal fit for Cony’s spread offense. Larrabee has the quickness to be good on screens, and the size to block for other ballcarriers as well as make catches in traffic or down the field. Against Lewiston with Cony up 31-22 at the start of the fourth quarter, Geyer hit Larrabee on a slant for what was supposed to be a first down — only for the play to result in more when he absorbed the hit, kept his feet and went 33 yards for the touchdown.

Cony’s Adrien Larrabee. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

Larrabee caught eight passes for 95 yards that game, and Geyer said the senior’s gone from being an unknown on offense to the team’s top playmaker through the air.

“He surprised me in the preseason. I was like ‘Oh my God, this guy can play some offense,’ ” Geyer said. “He’s not an easy guy to bring down. Give him the ball, he’ll make plays.”

He can go up top, he’s good on screens, he catches the ball in the intermediate levels, and he’s physical. He’s willing to take a hit, he can break tackles,” Lippert said. “He’s really developed into a well-rounded receiver, and I had no real idea if that was ever going to be the case with him, so it’s been really fun to see.”

That hasn’t overshadowed his work on the defensive side, where his ability to negate receivers allows defensive coordinator Brandon Terrill to get creative.

“Most of the teams we play have one receiver that stands out as a guy we really need to gameplan against,” Terrill said. “It’s really nice as a defensive coordinator to say ‘We’ll just put Adrian on him,’ and feel good about that. … He loves that extra push and that extra motivation. He feeds off of it.”

Against Lewiston, Larrabee drew Evan Williams as an assignment. He held the Blue Devils’ top receiver without a catch.

I like it when I can just be 1-on-1 with somebody. I love it when coach puts me up against the best guy they have,” Larrabee said. “It was just a great opportunity for me to show that I was one of the best corners in the state.”

Larrabee’s biggest progression, however, may have come off the field, as he’s become the type of leader Lippert knew his team was going to need.

In the offseason he really committed to working out and getting kids to come with him. He did all the things that coaches would want, and you hope it’s rewarded,” he said. “To see the start he’s gotten off to, it’s pretty cool.”

As for that day at Lincoln Elementary? Lippert was there to see it. The image has stayed in his mind.

Every time he makes a play, I just kind of smile and say ‘There’s the kid that was with Ben Lucas in the gym,’ ” he said. “And here he is on the same field Ben played on, putting up some pretty special numbers.”

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