This article was originally published in the Pasadena Independent.
Thomas McConnell has high expectations for Polytechnic High School’s football team this year. A record breaking linebacker, McConnell brings veteran leadership as a senior with 11 years of football under his belt.
McConnell thinks the team will fare much better than last year when they won eight games, but lost in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs. He projects the team will go deeper because they moved down two divisions, from Division 10 to Division 12, to play schools of comparable size, and because the team won’t face the same initial struggles they did last year.
“We lost a ton of really talented seniors before last season. We only have seven total seniors on the team. We initially dealt with a lot of behavior our coach was not a fan of,” McConnell said. “But we came together a lot toward the end of the year.”
McConnell recalled the highlight of the season, when Poly beat their rival, Rio Hondo Prep.
“That was where our season culminated. We really dominated that game,” McConnell said. “It was a good experience to come together as a team after working for the whole season to achieve our goal of beating our rival. That was a goal we had set for ourselves on the first day of camp. All our work paid off that day.”
Although Poly will start the season off with some harder games, McConnell thinks these will bring beneficial experience when the team goes to the postseason tournament. McConnell said the ultimate team goal is to win CIF; however, he is focusing on some personal goals for the time being.
“I improved a lot from sophomore year to junior year and I want to do the same this year. Last year I broke the school record for tackles in the season with around 112. This year, I want to tie or break my brother’s record for most tackles in a single game (18),” McConnell said.
After high school, McConnell plans to go to a top notch academic school. He currently has a 4.29 weighted GPA. McConnell said he might play football in college, but academics come first and he won’t sacrifice the academic experience for the athletic one.
When McConnell is not playing football, he enjoys hanging out with his friends, wakeboarding and shopping at thrift stores.
Although the season doesn’t start for more than a month, McConnell is already putting in the work to have another record breaking year.