Senior Mike Connors is a force in the middle of the field for the Panthers defense.
Standing at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Whitman-Hanson Regional High middle linebacker and senior captain Mike Connors is a tall task for opposing offenses.
The 2017 Patriot League All-Star is coming off a junior campaign in which he totaled a team-high 104 tackles, a sack and interception.
“I would say he’s the leader of the defense,” W-H head coach Mike Driscoll said.
But it’s what he does when nobody is watching, but himself, that keys his success.
During the offseason, Connors is in the weight room five days a week and when the season rolls around he makes an attempt to get in three to four days a week.
“I try hitting every body part twice,” Connors explained. “I bunch them up into two’s every day.”
In the lead up to game days, Connors goes above and beyond just hitting the weight room and attending practice.
“I watch hours of film, every day of the week and I take pride in learning what their offense is so I can fly to the ball every snap,” Connors said.
Driscoll said Connors’ constant commitment to the sport has allowed him to excel on the field.
“He recognizes things that are happening in front of him in a pretty fast manner,” Driscoll said. “Not only is he big, strong and fast, he’s a student of the game so that puts him at an advantage over most high school players.”
Driscoll pointed to four of many contests last season where Connors’ studying paid dividends.
“[In] the Hingham and Stoughton games he was huge for us,” Driscoll said. “He played really, really well against Duxbury too and was a force in the middle there.
“He shut down Silver Lake’s run game and did a lot of things in that game.”
Driscoll said having Connors back roaming in the middle of the field allows him to “relax a little bit.”
“Instincts, side-to-side, C-gap to C-gap, he’s probably the best linebacker that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” the eighth-year head coach said. “He’s tough. He’s strong.”
While Driscoll is thrilled to have Connors back, he couldn’t be more ecstatic to be at his post for his third and final season for the Panthers.
“[At linebacker] you get to play the run game and then you also get to drop back in the pass game,” Connors said. “I’m in the center of the field at middle linebacker so it’s fun to roam around the whole field.”
Connors added he’s not at all concerned about replicating last fall’s stats.
“I don’t care about the tackles, they’ll come,” Connors said. “I just want to win games for my team. If you train hard and watch film for this team you’re going to play good.”