In its 27th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes,, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with ESPNHS, today announced Casey Cochran of Masuk High School as its 2011-12 Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year. Cochran is the first Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Masuk High School.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Cochran as Connecticut’s best high school football player. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award announced in December, Cochran joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports, including Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.), Wes Welker (1999-00, Heritage Hall HS, Okla.), Terrell Suggs (1999-00, Hamilton HS, Ariz.), Anquan Boldin (1998-99, Pahokee HS, Fla.) and Jerome Bettis (1989-90, Mackenzie HS, Mich.).
The state’s returning Gatorade Football Player of the Year, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior quarterback led the Panthers to an 11-0 record and a berth in the Class L state semifinals against Hand High, scheduled for Dec. 3. Cochran passed for 2,801 yards and 36 touchdowns through 11 games, completing 119-of-167 attempts while throwing just four interceptions. He also rushed for four touchdowns. Cochran won a Class SS state title with New London High as a freshman in 2008 and with Masuk in 2010. He is the state’s career leader in two categories with 10,501 yards passing and 108 touchdowns.
Cochran has maintained a 3.92 GPA in the classroom. The winner of the Masuk High Book Award for Introduction to Engineering and Algebra I and Geometry, he has volunteered locally at area food banks for the needy, as a youth football coach and as a peer tutor.
“It’s scary how someone can be that accurate,” said Joe Lato, head coach of rival Weston High. “It’s unbelievable what Casey Cochran can do. I haven’t seen a high school quarterback like him. He makes everybody look silly.”
Cochran has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at the University of Connecticut beginning in the fall of 2012.
Cochran joins recent Gatorade Connecticut Football Players of the Year Kevin Pierre-Louis (2009, King Low Heywood Thomas), Mike Osiecki (2008, Seymour) and Alex Thomas (2007, Ansonia) among the state’s list of former award winners.
In Massachusetts, Jonathan DiBiaso of Everett High took home Gatorade Player of the Year honors. Here are the four other winners from New England:
RHODE ISLAND: JOSH MORRIS, LA SALLE
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior running back and cornerback led the Rams to a 10-1 record and a berth in the Division I state championship against Bishop Hendricken High, scheduled for Dec. 3. Morris rushed for 1,278 yards and 16 touchdowns on 134 carries through 11 games and caught nine passes for 175 yards and a score. A 2010 First Team All-Division I selection, he is averaging 39.8 yards per kickoff return, with one touchdown, and has recorded two interceptions on defense.
Morris has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as a youth mentor and football coach and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with his church community.
“Every game, he’s getting better,” said Geoff Marcone, La Salle Academy’s head coach. “The kid wants to be great in everything that he does. A lot of high school kids say they want to be the best, but very few work to be the best. He’s doing everything he can to make himself better.”
Morris will begin his senior year of high school next fall.
Morris joins recent Gatorade Rhode Island Football Players of the Year Ben Willett (2010, Portsmouth) Mike Read (2009, Barrington), Dave D'Errico (2008, North Kingstown) and Bobby Bentsen (2007, Warwick Veterans) among the state’s list of former award winners.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: JAKE KILEY, NEW HAMPTON
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior quarterback, running back and defensive back rushed for 358 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 carries this past season, leading the Huskies (7-2) to the New England Prep School Athletic Council’s Jack Etter Bowl. A two-time Evergreen League Player of the Year, Kiley also passed for 235 yards and three touchdowns, caught 15 passes for 328 yards and five touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a score. On defense, he recorded 46 tackles and four interceptions, and he averaged 40.3 yards on 16 punt attempts.
Kiley has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as a New Hampton School campus tour guide, a youth basketball referee and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with the New Hampton School Service Learning Program.
“I have coached against Jake Kiley for three years and have marveled at his athletic talent each time he steps on the field,” said Ben Rulli, head coach at rival Proctor Academy. “He has progressed throughout the years as one of the most athletic players I have seen. Jake is fast, agile and always a threat to make a big play.”
Kiley has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at Penn State University beginning in the fall of 2012.
Kiley joins recent Gatorade New Hampshire Football Players of the Year Max Jacques (2009-10, Salem), David Zocco (2008, Nashua South) and Billy Ferriter (2007, Nashua South) among the state’s list of former award winners.
MAINE: LOUIS DiTOMASSO, WELLS
The 6-foot, 180-pound senior linebacker and fullback led the Warriors to a 12-0 record and the Class B state championship this past season. DiTomasso rushed for 1,559 yards and 18 touchdowns on 203 carries. The 2011 Campbell Conference Player of the Year, DiTomasso recorded 133 tackles, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal. He ran for 134 yards and a touchdown in the state final win over Leavitt High.
DiTomasso has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom. An avid photographer and artist, he has volunteered locally as a youth football coach.
“Louis DiTomasso has great instincts at linebacker and flies to the play,” said Jeff Guerrette, head coach of rival Westbrook High. “At the point of attack he is extremely physical and consistently delivers the blow.”
DiTomasso remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.
DiTomasso joins recent Gatorade Maine Football Players of the Year Peter Gwilym (2010, Cheverus) Jack Mallis (2009, Windham), Jack Heary (2008, Deering) and Justin Villacci (2007, Gorham) among the state’s list of former award winners.
VERMONT: JAKE STALCUP, BURR & BURTON
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound junior quarterback passed for 2,448 yards and 31 touchdowns this past season, completing 163-of-286 passes while throwing 10 interceptions, leading the Bulldogs (7-4) to the Division 2 state final. A 2011 ESPNHS preseason All-State selection, Stalcup passed for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Division 2 semifinal win over North Country Union.
Stalcup has maintained a 3.54 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as a youth football and baseball coach and has assisted in relief efforts for Hurricane Irene flood victims.
“Jake Stalcup has become a first rate quarterback in every sense,” said Burr and Burton Academy head coach Jason Thompson. “Every single week he gave us a chance to win and he will only keep getting better.”
Stalcup will begin his senior year of high school next fall.
Stalcup joins recent Gatorade Vermont Football Players of the Year Christian McCormick (2010, Rice Memorial) Max Librizzi (2009, Essex), Mick Wong (2008, Hartford) and James Durham (2007-08, Spaulding) among the state’s list of former award winners.