Taos’s Aidan Leblanc makes the USA TODAY ALL-USA New Mexico Football Team
Aidan Leblanc is “the type of player who comes once in a blue moon,” says coach Art Abreu Jr.
The eldest of six moved to New Mexico from Louisiana in 2017 and lives in Angel Fire. He makes the long drive through the canyon to Taos for school in order to play football. “It’s all I know how to do,” he joked.
Coach Abreu disagrees, calling him the “definition of a student athlete.” Leblanc himself isn’t one to make too much of his academic success, calling his favorite subject “off campus” in keeping with his general modesty about all of his accomplishments.
Those accomplishments include being named to the All-District team, the 1st Team of the 4A New Mexico All-State Team, being a member of the Northern team for the North vs. South game in June of 2019 showcasing New Mexico’s top football players and, most recently, USA TODAY’s ALLUSA New Mexico team.
USA TODAY makes its selections based on performance in a single year, in this case 2018-2019. For Leblanc, that was a season of 18 sacks, 71 solo tackles, 125 total tackles, 2 caused fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. His average of 9.6 tackles per game is on pace with the best defensive linemen in the NFL.
Watching Leblanc play, a person notices first how fast he is. “He brought speed to our defensive line,” Abreu said, and that infusion of speed from the Louisiana transfer student put Taos “over the edge” to win state.
One might think that transferring between high schools during sophomore year would be a setback. Leblanc sees it as an asset that gave him the opportunity to play under several head coaches and get to know their styles.
Compared to the coach of John Paul the Great Academy in Louisiana, where he played in ninth and 10th grades, he called Abreu’s style “a bit more modern with a hint of oldschool” in contrast to the Veer offense in which passing the ball is “basically a trick play.”
Playing in different places for different people has given Leblanc the opportunity not only to play with different coaches and strategies, but to win with them. Back in Louisiana, the teams he played with in eighth, ninth and 10th grade went undefeated, winning state in each of those years.
Leblanc is definitively one of the best linemen in the state of New Mexico. It didn’t start that way. He’s always been tall, so in eighth grade the coaches put him at defensive end and, “I sucked,” he claimed.
When the defensive tackle got hurt, they put Leblanc in and he “made every tackle.” Imagine his dismay when he got to Taos and found himself right back at defensive end. He’s clearly grown into it, playing through the pain of two injured shoulders in order to stick with it and to help his team.
“He’s a high-character kid,” Abreu said.
Leblanc’s character showed on the field. More than once
The Taos News witnessed his quiet sportsmanship.
No matter where he decides to go next, Leblanc has cultivated the discipline to succeed when he gets there. He won’t volunteer to tell you about it, being a man of few words as he is, but we recommend keeping an eye on him. You’ll have a chance June 7, 2019, during the Large School North vs. South game at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque.
Aidan Leblanc poses for a portrait Tuesday (Jan. 8) at Taos High School.
Aidan Leblanc and coach Art Abreu Jr. embrace after the Taos Tigers 14-7 state championship victory over Bloomfield Dec. 1.
Aidan Leblanc helps Portales quarterback Julian Urioste back to his feet after hurrying him during the Tigers’ 35-14 semifinal win Nov. 24 that put them in the state championship game.
Aidan Leblanc hurries Portales quarterback Julian Urioste during the Tigers’ 35-14 semifinal win Nov. 24 that put them in the state championship game.
Aidan Leblanc celebrates his fourth-quarter touchtown reception that put the Tigers up by two touchdowns during the Tigers’ 35-14 semifinal win Nov. 24.