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Wednesday, March 21 News

Fairfield’s Trudeau enjoying time with Pioneers football team

FAIRFIELD - He has found his place in the grand scheme of things on the Sacred Heart University football team, although it is still a relatively small place. Some situations here, some situations there. An occasional third down pass rush package, or a special teams formation. But Max Trudeau relishes every moment he is out on the playing field.

He is a blue-collar kid with an attitude and work ethic to match. He played football and lacrosse at Fairfield Prep, where he was All-SCC in both sports. He went to SHU to get a college degree and after that? Well, who knows but he also decided to walk onto the Pioneers football team as a freshman and see what happens.

Four years later, he’s still there, getting an occasional moment in the spotlight and loving every minute of it.

“Max is doing a great job,” Sacred Heart head football coach Mark Nofri said. “He came in and didn’t play a lot as a freshman but he played special teams as a sophomore and a junior, he was on a couple of different defensive packages that we have and this year … he had a good spring and I’m hoping that I can get him a couple more packages this season.”

So far, Trudeau has seen action in all five Pioneers games, totaling 15 tackles and posting his first-ever sack in Week 2 against Lafayette.

“It was great,” said Trudeau. “I forced a fumble … it was great to be able to celebrate with your teammates. I was coming off the edge, I chopped his (the quarterback’s) hands down and got it. It was great.”

Trudeau did not play as a freshman in 2014 and as a sophomore in 2015, saw limited action in 10 games, making four total tackles (one solo). Last season, Trudeau played in 11 games finishing with 10 tackles, two solo and eight assists in what had to be a disappointing 6-5 finish after the Pioneers had won six of their first seven games.

“It can be discouraging not playing but I had (All-America linebacker) James Rentz in front of me for a long time,” Trudeau said. “He’s a great player and it was just one of those things where you have to pay your dues, knowing that your time will come and you just have to keep working hard. I wasn’t really frustrated, I understood the system.”

According to Trudeau, what also hampered his playing time was getting a complete handle on the Sacred Heart playbook.

“My biggest downfall the past two years was my comprehension of the playbook,” he said. “I was probably physically ready last year but mentally I wasn’t. That was the hardest thing, not making those mental errors in practice, so the staff can learn to trust me to do my job and handle my responsibilities.”

So, he worked and he worked to make himself a better football player.

“He’s a great kid. He works his butt off in the weight room and at practice,” Nofri said. “He’s a high motor-type kid for our defense and he fits in well with the schemes that we play, running different packages and different fronts and he’s on a couple of those different packages.

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“The fact that he works so hard in practice, effort is never a question or a problem with this kid. He goes 100 miles an hour in everything he does, including the weight room and that’s one of the things that impressed us the most was what he’s done in the weight room for us and how hard he works. The kids all like him, he’s got the respect of the coaches and his peers because of how hard he works.”

And that hard work has gotten him into the playing field, Nofri using Trudeau’s speed and agility to place him in specific defensive packages to take advantage of his strengths.

“There were certain pass rush packages, nickel and dime things depending on who we were playing and the type of team they had or what the score was,” Nofri said, when he got Trudeau into games. “There’s always a different package, we have like, seven or eight different packages, so there are kids coming and going all the time, just about every play but right now, he’s playing our stand-up rush linebacker.”

What Nofri also likes, along with Trudeau’s football work ethic is his academic work ethic.

“I believe he’s got a 3.8 or 3.9 grade point average,” Nofri said. “He’ll graduate in May and I think his plans are to go possibly go to medical school.”

Trudeau wants to be a doctor, currently majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. He spent this summer shadowing Dr. Henry Backe at the at Orthopedic Specialty Group in Fairfield, while earning his MT (Medical Technologist) certification.

“That was an incredible experience,” Trudeau said. “(Backe) specializes in hands but I was able to see a bunch of total joint replacements, knee replacements, hip replacements, a bunch of really neat surgeries. Originally, I was more interested in engineering but then I started to get interested in the human body and I always liked the idea of health care, so I decided to give biology a shot and fell in love with it.”

Now, if he could just get some sleep.

“I’m usually up a 6 a.m., then I either have a lift or practice and then I eat breakfast and try to get some studying in,” he said. “I only have two classes … one before practice, I get lunch in, have football practice from 12 to 3:30, have another class and then have dinner and study as much as I can to prepare for the next day.”