CONCORD, Mass. -- Concord-Carlisle senior running back George Craan has been on a mission ever since losing in the Division 2A Super Bowl last season to Duxbury at Gillette Stadium.
Craan has put on 20 pounds since last season (up to 210) to go along with his 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash. He is also determined as ever to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, albeit taking each week “one game at a time”.
The returning Dual County League Small Offensive Player of the Year has run for nearly 700 yards and 11 touchdowns this season through the first six games of the season for the No. 8 Patriots (6-0). Craan, who ran for 1,914 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, has shared carries in a talented and balanced backfield along with senior Tyquan Culbreath and junior Tim Badgley.
Craan and the Patriots have outscored their opponents by a score of 239-56 to date, with the majority of the scoring coming before the halftime whistle has blown.
The Patriots face their biggest test to date this Friday when they host Acton-Boxborough. The Colonials (4-2) have had the better of Concord-Carlisle for past 30-plus year,s as C-C has not defeated A-B since 1987. Both teams played to a tie in 1992, and despite many close games over the recent years, A-B has maintained their dominance. In last year’s game, A-B defeated C-C, 14-7, at Leary Field in Acton.
We caught up with Craan this week to discuss the season and the big game Friday night in Concord.
Q: Can you talk a little about the 6-0 start of the season?
A: “It has been a total team effort as we have taken each game week to week. Our running backs, offensive line, and defense have all prepared hard each week. The coaching staff has prepared us well and pushed us each week and that has been a big factor. Practices have been competitive and the completion at each practice has made us all better.”
Q: With the balanced attack you guys have this year and the big scores that you have put up it has resulted in less carries than last season. Can you talk about how you feel physically at the mid-point in the season?
A: “I am feeling fresh. I have been working hard when I get the ball and working hard when I don’t have the ball. Whether I am called on to block or carry out a fake I make sure to go 110 percent. The other backs have been ready and the line has been ready and it has made teams have to focus on all of us.”
Q: Your offensive line has played great this year. What are your thoughts on the unsung group in front of you?
A: “Our line is tremendous. They are big, athletic and they go out to get people. Center Andrew VanderWilden is the anchor. He is a senior and has put in a lot of work in the offseason to get better. Tom Gregory, Thomas Kleyn, Trevor Castrichini, and Owen Guattaduaro have all stepped up as seniors. They have executed, focused and not quit on any play. They make us running backs look good when they do their job.”
Q: You put on some good weight heading into your senior season bulking up to 210 lbs. What was your off-season conditioning like?
A: “During the winter season I trained indoors at Katz Training at Acton indoor. I trained intensely for about four hours a day after school. Along with Katz this summer, I also did a lot of track work every day and a lot of football specific workouts. The training has a done a great job preparing me as I feel a lot stronger more mature and have gained a lot from the work.”
Q: You guys have done a great job coming out early in games and getting up early. On teams Can you talk about your execution early in some of your wins?
A: “Before the game Coach Robichaud gives us a pre-game talk that gets us fired up and we get ourselves fired up. We want to come out on the field, make that first hit or make that first play from the opening kickoff. We want to set the tone.”
Q: Acton-Boxborough is coming up this Friday. They have had a lot of success against Concord-Carlisle over the years. Can you talk about A-B and the games you have been in over the last few years with them?
A: “This has been a game I have wanted to win since freshman year. They beat us as freshman on freshman football by one point, my sophomore year we lost by a point and last year we lost by a touchdown. It has been frustrating and we will be prepared for Friday night. They will be ready and we will be ready.”
Q: What has the preparation been like for this week’s game with A-B?
A: “We have treated it like every other game where we have been going hard all week. Nothing has really been different but we know that this game will be intense and we will be prepared.”
Q: What are your thoughts on schools for next year?
A: “I am focusing on high school right now. I want to make sure my grades keep improving and that I continue to do well. Coach has been talking to a bunch of coaches but I am not sure yet on plans. I want to keep focusing on my school work and doors will open up.”
Q: What are your favorite subjects in school?
A: “I enjoy English and Math. I like the challenge in Math of problem solving. It is sort of like the football field where you have to do a lot of repetitions to get it right.”
Q: What do you like to do off the field and outside of school?
A: “I like to eat and I like to hang out with my friends.”
Q: What does the typical pre-game meal consist of?
A: “We always get together as a team. We go to VanderWilden’s house and usually get a pasta and meatballs going with a Gatorade.”