GHS senior John Desmarais is headed to Bowdoin College to play football. Demarais is pictured with his father, Mark, and mother, Cecile, signing his letter of intent on March 28.
Not even multiple broken bones over the last two years could stop John Desmarais from helping out his team on the football field.
The soon-to-be GHS graduate now eyes a healthier next four years on the gridiron where he has committed to play for Bowdoin College.
“Since day one on campus all the coaches made me feel like I was at home,” Desmarais said of the private college in Maine.
“They all knew my name, they knew where I was from, and there was a certain love and respect that the team felt for each other.”
Desmarais’ football career at GHS has been full of obstacles and he’s tackled every one of them.
His sophomore year was lost because of the Covid-19 cancellation and during his junior year he suffered a broken wrist. He was able to wrap the wrist and play through the injury, winning the Coaches Award after registering 38 tackles, five for loss, despite playing in only six games.
Then a broken leg early in his senior season threatened to put an end to his high school career.
Yet the resilient Desmarais again rehabbed in an effort to return to the field while also serving as a team captain.
Head coach Eric Hennessy said that trainers and doctors feared that Desmarais' season was over, but he defied the odds by returning in time to help the Guardians make the playoffs.
Hennessy called him an “unselfish leader.”
“He would do anything needed to help the team,” added Hennessy. “He really thrived on seeing his teammates be successful. That is a unique thing to see in a young man. I think he got more enjoyment seeing his teammates be successful and knowing he played a role in their success.”
Following losses to Hall and Southington midway through the season, the Guardians won their final three games of the regular season to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2015.
Desmarais referred to a win over top-ranked and undefeated Maloney in November as the “turning point” of the season.
“It lit a fire under our team and we realized that we could compete with any team in the state,” stated Desmarais, who had seven tackles and a sack in the win. “It was something special to all of us.”
Following an 8-2 regular season, the Guardians traveled to West Haven and upset the nine-win Blue Devils in the opening round of the Class LL playoffs.
Desmarais said the success of the team in the fall was because of a motivated team that set out to prove the doubters wrong after finishing with only two wins the previous season.
He added that the roller coaster ride in high school gave him a new perspective on the game of football and of life in general.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to play; it’s just about giving my all every day,” stated Desmarais. “You never know when it’s going to be your last snap, so I’m not taking this opportunity for granted.”
Desmarais began playing football in kindergarten, joining a flag football team, and then started playing contact football in the second grade.
Ever since his first game, Desmarais said it was love at first hit.
At his next destination, Desmarais will be joining a Bear program in Brunswick, ME that competes in the New England Small College Athletic Conference and will be entering the fourth season under head coach B.J. Hammer.
Hennessy said that Desmarais’ size, strength, and determination will help him at the collegiate level.
“He’s a dynamic athlete,” added Hennessy “We’d be talking about him being an all-state player and other accolades if he played the whole year.”
Desmarais, who was born and raised in Glastonbury, added that he is ready to embrace a fresh and healthy start in the Pine Tree State.
“There is a certain freedom you have being away from home and I’ll be living outside of Connecticut for the first time,” added Desmarais, who will double major at Bowdoin with a focus on physics. “It is something that is truly different and something special that I’m looking forward to.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin