Natick High School had another successful season in 2016, going 9-2 and making a push in the Massachusetts state playoffs.

Looking ahead, the Redhawks’ varsity football program has a very bright future.

As an eighth grader with the Junior Redhawks in the Natick American Youth Football League last season, Will Lederman helped his team go 12-0 (8-0 league record, 4-0 playoff record) and win the Massachusetts state championship.

“The team goal was just to get better as a whole, and win the state championship,” Lederman said. “We had some new players coming in and we all worked hard in the off-season and accomplished our goal.”

Monster season

As the quarterback of the Junior Redhawks, Lederman had a monster eighth grade season. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder passed and rushed for a combined 44 touchdowns.

“Heading into the season, I was confident,” he said. “I had a lot of talent around me and I knew I could put up numbers like that. We had a really good offensive line and some awesome wide receivers. I knew with the people around me, we could do it. To win our first state championship, I was really proud. Our whole team contributed and now we’re ready to play in high school.”

While Lederman excelled at QB last season, he also returned a punt for a touchdown and played free safety. On the defensive side of the ball, Lederman had 6 interceptions.

“Playing quarterback helps me a lot playing safety,” he said. “I know that some receivers stare down what side they’re going to and if you look at the quarterback’s eyes, it helps put you in the right position. We also had some good defensive backs and that really helped because I got some tips.”

As a seventh grader Lederman showed his defensive skills in a playoff game, intercepting a pass in his own end zone and running 102 yards for a game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

While he also wrestles and plays basketball, lacrosse and baseball, Lederman is most comfortable on the football field playing QB. “I started playing quarterback in fourth grade but didn’t really start throwing a lot until sixth or seventh grade,” he said. “I definitely like playing quarterback. I like how you have the ability to lead your team and knowing that people are relying on you. And when you score, it’s not just you scoring. The whole line worked, everybody worked and the whole team scored.”

Strong student

An honor roll student at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Natick, Lederman is always thinking when he plays quarterback. “It definitely helps,” he said. “Playing quarterback, you extend plays and you have to deal with adversity. Sometimes, you have to overcome adversity in school, maybe with a lot of homework. Get it done knowing you have practice later in the day.”

As he eases toward his freshman year of high school, Lederman is already hoping to make his mark with the varsity football team. “My goal is to get better in the off-season, and I want to play some varsity as a freshman,” he said. “It’s possible. There’s no doubt in my mind I could handle it.”

Lederman started training with NFA last year, and that’s helped him set and achieve some lofty goals. The rising young quarterback is looking forward to attending NFA’s next camp in the Boston area in March.

“NFA has helped me a lot,” Lederman said. “The quadrant drill especially helped, with quadrant 1, 2 3 and 4. I used the dropback and quadrant drill this past season and it helped me a lot.”

NFA stresses the importance of leadership to all of its quarterbacks, and Lederman instantly absorbed the message.

“It’s so important,” he said. “You have to be a leader, not only playing quarterback but leading the team. The most valuable player isn’t the most valuable player, it’s the one who makes the most players valuable. I still remember that from the first NFA camp.”