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High School Football Players Honored at Walter Camp Breakfast of Champions

The Hartford Courant — Sean Begin The Hartford Courant

Jan. 13--There was plenty of talent packed into the Grand Ballroom at the Omni Hotel on Saturday morning.

With former Detroit Lion and Man of the Year recipient Calvin Johnson as well as Heisman and Player of the Year winner Baker Mayfield in attendance, the top 50 high school football players that made the Walter Camp Foundation's All-Connecticut teams were honored at the 11th annual Breakfast of Champions.

Dathan Hickey, Bristol Central senior and future Yale student-athlete, in the shadow of his future school, offered a unique view on where he's headed.

"Yeah, it does [put things in perspective]," Hickey said. "Football originated here so it gives me a lot of pride. Whenever I hear somebody say Yale, I just smile. I know I'll get a world-class education and whether I make it to the NFL or not, I'll have a good head on my shoulders."

Hickey was named to the Walter Camp All-Connecticut First Team at defensive back. But the senior was much more than a defensive standout in his final season at Bristol Central.

After starting quarterback Isaiah Miller suffered a season ending injury, Hickey stepped away from his receiver role and into the QB spot, leading Bristol Central to a 7-3 record and a 12th-place ranking in Class LL. He was also instrumental in the secondary, and credits his switch from corner to safety to help Central win its final five games of the year.

"[About halfway through the season] I talked to coach and told him I thought I could help the team more at safety," Hickey said. "And on our bye week, we made the change and our year just went uphill from there."

Area Players Rep Small Schools

Two area athletes from smaller schools were named to the All-Connecticut teams. Stafford/East Windsor/Somers' Colton Engel was named as the second-team punter and Dominic Aiello of St. Paul the second-team center.

"It means a lot," Aiello said. "I've worked really hard ever since youth football, so this is really a culmination of all the hard work I've put in."

Engel, the only player from the Pequot conference, was selected as a punter but was vitally important to Stafford in the run to the Class S semifinals. The junior accounted for over 3,100 yards and 36 touchdowns rushing/receiving en route to Stafford's first playoff victory, a quarterfinal win over Bullard-Havens.

"It's a huge honor and I'm just really humbled by the opportunity," Engel said of being named All-Connecticut. "I couldn't be here without my teammates and my coaches. When you look at all these big schools, it definitely is special to represent [the Pequot] and I love doing that."

Teammates Share Honor

Three pairs of area teammates, Jonathan Clark and Ryan Montalvo of Southington, Will Levis and Kyle MacGillis of Xavier, and Brian Casagrande and Ian Butler of Hand, had the honor of being named All-Connecticut together.

"It meant a lot since I've been playing with Ryan since we were little kids," Clark said. "We parted ways for a little bit in eighth grade, but when we came into high school, it felt like we picked right up where we left off. And to come [here] together and represent our football team is something special."

Other area first-team honorees included East Hartford linebacker Kevon Jones, South Windsor lineman Hassan Azeem, E.O. Smith lineman Rondell Bothroyd, Middletown kicker Mike Aresco and Manchester returner Jevin Frett. Simsbury wide receiver Ralph Gilliard was also a second-team selection.

Killingly Sweeps Coach, Player Awards

After running, literally, through the ECC and the Class M playoffs to an undefeated season and state title, Killingly earned some final recognition on Saturday. Chad Neal was named the coach of the year and running back Spencer Lockwood was selected player of the year.

"It's definitely a great honor because I see the kind of men that also won this award," Lockwood said. "So just to be a part of the elite fraternity of men is just awesome. And being surrounded here with this talent and my teammates, it's a great feeling." ... Former Yale and Shelton High football and baseball coach Joe Benanto received the Lifetime Achievement award.


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