OPELOUSAS — David Labbe still has a linebacker’s mentality.
The Opelousas Catholic senior quarterback has led the Vikings offense for the past season and a half.
In 2014, Labbe helped guide Opelousas Catholic to a 10-2 record, a second-round playoff appearance, as the team averaged 34.6 points per game. Heading into Friday’s District 5-2A contest at Catholic of New Iberia, Opelousas Catholic is 5-2 and 3-1 in district, and the Vikings are averaging 29.5 points per game.
But when asked what his favorite moment as OC’s quarterback, Labbe references not a sensational touchdown pass but a play in which he laid the wood on a defensive back.
“It was against Loureaville at home last season,” Labbe said. “It was a roll out to the left and no one was open. We were in the red zone and I started running down the sideline and there was a cornerback right there in front of the goal line. I just dropped my shoulder, and he just fell right away.”
That mentality started when Labbe started at linebacker on the Vikings defense as a sophomore. That season he was forced to play quarterback one game, and Labbe carried that hard-hitting mentality to the position.
“I had to play some quarterback one game because our starter got hurt, and I just ran it like I was going to tackle someone,” said Labbe, who also is a standout defender on OC’s soccer team.
Because of team needs, Labbe had to make the transition to quarterback before last season. Even though his coach said that Labbe has fully embraced the position change, he knows good and well where his quarterback’s passion truly lies on the field.
“If you told him today that we had a transfer in and he is going to start at quarterback and you are going back to linebacker, he would probably be the happiest kid in the school,” OC coach Dane Charpentier said. “I promise you that he would smile ear to ear.”
Labbe’s physical mentality though is well suited in OC’s offensive game plan, as the Vikings run a QB-run heavy spread. In seven games this season, Labbe has 716 rushing yards with 10 rushing touchdowns.
That doesn’t mean that Labbe isn’t capable of throwing the ball down field, as evidenced by a 30-yard pass he threw in OC’s 28-7 season-opening win over Port Barre. For the season, Labbe has thrown for 617 yards with six touchdowns and only two interceptions.
“Last year it was fairly new to me,” said Labbe, who credits his offensive line for his success. “I didn’t know my receivers all that well or I didn’t study the defenses as well as I should have. Last year, if someone wasn’t open right away, I would just run. This year I know exactly where my receivers will be and how fast they are. It all came together this summer.”
“I never really had a doubt that he was going to be a guy,” Charpentier said. “He is by far one of the strongest and smartest kids we got, but I think he would tell you that he is not a naturally born quarterback. He has to work at it, but I think he is natural-born football player. He’s the type of kid you want to lead your team.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound Labbe, who is planning on attending LSU to study dentistry, is looking to lead his team to a strong finish. That starts with taking on the defending Division III state-runner-up on Friday, a team Labbe and the Vikings haven’t beaten recently.
Catholic-NI defeated OC 48-14 in 2013 and followed that with a 42-26 victory last season.
“They have been one of the best teams in the playoffs for the past few years,” Labbe said. “If we beat them, that would definitely help with our team’s mentality of being able to make a deep run this year.”