Leavitt quarterbacks Noah Carpenter, left, and Hunter Hayes lead a stinging offense into this weekend’s Class C South championship against Cape Elizabeth. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Leavitt football team has two quarterbacks capable of moving the ball, scoring touchdowns and winning games. 

Senior Hunter Hayes and sophomore Noah Carpenter have been splitting time at quarterback and have learned to work together for the undefeated Hornets.

Which player lines up under center is based on how coach Mike Hathaway views a specific situation.

At first, the dual-QB approach was used out of necessity.

Hayes entered the preseason as the starting quarterback, but 10 minutes into the first practice he broke the tip of his pinky finger. It was yet another setback after Hayes, who broke his foot in 2019 and missed most of the season. 

“I went up to catch a ball and jammed my finger,” Hayes said. “My sophomore year I got injured, so this was the first time I played since then. It wasn’t anything too serious.”

From that point through the end of the preseason, Carpenter stepped in as the starting quarterback.

Hayes was able to start at QB in Leavitt’s first two games of the regular season, against Wells and Gardiner. However, Carpenter had to finish the Gardiner game at quarterback after Hayes injured his leg.

With Hayes still hurt the following week, Carpenter started the Hornets’ big matchup with Cape Elizabeth, which, like Leavitt, entered the game undefeated.

“I had a little bit of nerves going into it because I knew it was a big game, but I had teammates there to help me if anything went bad,” Carpenter said. “We worked as a team and it worked out.”

‘IT’S ON THE SENIOR’

And that’s what the two quarterbacks have done the entire season: work together. 

Carpenter scored five touchdowns against Cape Elizabeth in Leavitt’s 39-27 victory. Hayes wasn’t healthy enough to play QB that game, but he did intercept a pass as a safety on defense. 

Since the Cape Elizabeth game, Hayes and Carpenter have shared time under center for the top-seeded Hornets en route to an undefeated 7-0 record and a rematch with second-seeded Cape Elizabeth (8-1) in the Class C South final that is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. in Turner.

Leavitt football coach Mike Hathaway said “it’s on the senior” — in this case, Hayes — whether or not the two-quarterback approach is going to work.

“They played hoops together this summer and have grown up playing sports together,” Hathaway said. “Let’s be honest, when you have a situation like that, it’s on the senior. It’s on Hunter whether or not it’s going to go well, and he’s as good of a kid that we’ve had in this program ever. It’s gone as well as I expected it to. Hunter has been super mature and he enjoys playing other positions. He’s always played a little slot, a little tailback, a little tight end because he’d never been our quarterback. That also puts some stress on a defense when you have a guy that can move around and throw the ball, too.”

Wyatt Hathaway was the quarterback of the Class C champion Hornets in 2019, so before his injury Hayes played tailback, receiver and some tight end, according to Mike Hathaway.

“I got to know my assignments,” Hayes said. 

That comes in handy when Carpenter is in at QB. Hayes is OK with changing it up and playing whatever position Hathaway asks.

“I think we all know both of us can play,” Hayes said. “For me, whatever’s getting it done, whatever is working. We both have the understanding. I like it. We are both flexible, we both know what we are doing. It’s fun when we are both out there because we can both get it from the quarterback perspective, so we can talk to each other before the play, after the play.”

“It’s good that we both get a break during the game and we aren’t constantly running up and down the field on both sides of the ball,” Carpenter added. “When I go in at quarterback it gives Hunter time to get a squirt of water, when I’m not in I can get a squirt of water.”

Hathaway said that both quarterbacks have different skill sets, but that doesn’t mean the Hornets have to change the play based on who is at QB. 

“Hunter is a little more experienced, so a lot of the nuances, he’d be better at that sort of stuff,” Hathaway said. “Obviously, the thing that jumps out is that Noah can run the ball, but it’s not like Hunter can’t, either. They’re different kinds of runners, Noah is a little more downhill and Hunter has a little more shift to him. They both can throw, Noah has the stronger arm, but Hunter is older, can read a little better, more accurate, but they both offer something.”

This is Hathaway’s 20th season as Leavitt’s head coach, and he said that while he’s had different players that could run some plays from under center, he’s never had two real quarterbacks who are interchangeable until this season. 

“We’ve had situations where we played more than one. We played three quarterbacks on the 2013 team. Two split the reps, Tyler Chicoine and Brian Bedard, and Nate Coombs was a wildcat guy. That was just a situation where we had one younger quarterback who could run in Bedard. Then we had DeAndre James and Timmy Albert combo in 2016, but we’ve never had it where we had two really good quarterbacks where I don’t even change what we call because of them.”

DYNAMIC DEFENSIVE DUO

Hayes moved from Poland in middle school and is two grades above Carpenter, but through friends and sports, the two have become friends. They both played summer basketball for Hathaway this year. 

Cape Elizabeth’s Caden Lee makes a leaping catch for a long gain while being defended by Leavitt’s Hunter Hayes, left, and Noah Carpenter during an October football game in Turner. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Along with both being able play QB and being often on the field at the same time on offense, Hayes and Carpenter also are both safeties on defense. They make it a point to be loud in their communication between each other and their teammates. 

“That’s our goal every week on defense is to be as loud and obnoxious as we can be,” Hayes said. “We are making sure everyone knows their assignments.”

Hayes added that he thinks that playing safety helps helps him be a better quarterback.

“I think it helps when you’re at safety, because you play quarterback, and the other way around, and you kind of anticipate things on both sides,” Hayes said. “If you’re on offense, you’re anticipating a safety to be in certain coverage or jump on a certain route. Then the same the other way around.”

Communicating on on offense and defense has only strengthened Hayes and Carpenter’s bond.

“We obviously work together all the time, and I think that’s what comes out the most because we’re talking about both sides of the ball and communicating 24/7,” Carpenter said.

“They’re our two safeties, which I think also gives them a good bond,” Hathaway added. “They’re back there all the time and they’re used to working together.”

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: