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“We Get One Game”

Eagle Athlete Profile: Conor Cady '17

Nick Fahy '18, Social Media Manager

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There is a little moment at the rise of every football play where the center, completely still, holds the ball in his right hand, and two competing lines face each other in neat, three-point stances, each awaiting with bated breath the quarterback’s call. Dozens of pairs of eyes flit across the line of scrimmage, searching for a tell, a giveaway, an inconsistency that might give them an extra second’s leverage when in a few seconds they clash against each other like vikings.

Starting quarterback and varsity captain Connor Cady ’17 owns that moment, a statue but for the rise and fall of his chest plate. “You have to know what every player on your team is going to do [at that moment],” Cady says, “and hopefully, then you can figure out what the defense is doing.” He chalks up that expertise to hours spent each week reviewing the playbook and footage from old games, meticulously combing through hours of his own play and the play of his teammates. That is the burden and sacred responsibility of the quarterback: to be aware of not just his own movements, but the movements of two towering teams of players at every juncture of every play. In that sense, Cady must be and is his brother’s keeper.

*****

It’s 3:15pm on a sweltering Tuesday in mid-September. Three days to gameday. A date at home with rival Leominster lurks in the back of the team’s collective mind. Under the din of shrieking whistles and the patter of feet on artificial turf, varsity is going to work.

They jog through warmup drills, back and forth across fifteen yards of practice field. When they reach the end of a circuit, hands reach for high-fives, and their slight head nods are made enthusiastic by the enormity of their gold helmets. They pick each other up. “You’re not playing for yourself,” Cady reminds me, “You’re playing for the guy next to you. You’re leaving everything out on the field for the guy next to you.”

Head Coach Jonathan Bartlett storms between drill stations, a whirlwind of carefully controlled, timed energy channeled into a voice made slightly hoarse by the young season. “Most sports teams here get two, three games a week. We get one,” he barks at the drilling defensive line. So make it count, he tells them.

The quarterback himself hopes to play the game long after his BCHigh career comes to a close, but has no immediate commitments. “I plan to. I hope so” he replies when asked about playing in college.

Beyond college, in the unlikely event Cady were to succeed Brady (or these days, Jimmy Garopollo) someday under center for the New England Patriots, he would have a short commute to work: in a perfect narrative twist, the senior hails from Foxboro, home of Gillette Stadium and the Pats. Perhaps the unconscious pull of his hometown team was what led him to the sport, perhaps Cady is the bionic creation of a manic football town built around an iconic professional team.

It is difficult to pinpoint, however, just what led him to the sport ten years ago as a fledgling six or seven year old playing in Pop Warner leagues. He knows, however, his dad had a significant role in his first days in the sport, imparting to him the basics of the sport he would come to love. Now, as a senior, Cady maintains he far outstrips his dad’s coaching ability, though he credits it as a reason he still plays today.

         Cady leads the Eagles off as well as on the field. To fulfill his junior service last spring he traveled to an impoverished community in New Orleans with the Hyde Center to volunteer in elementary and pre-K schools, in a role he describes as “ministry of presence.” Cady calls this the best moment of his three plus years at BCHigh, despite and perhaps because of the fact he was exposed to the devastation of 2005 Hurricane Katrina eleven years later. “There’s still houses that are abandoned,” he says, spray-painted and empty, lining the streets of some quarters of New Orleans. The experience holds a lot of power for him. He looks forward to attending one of the BCHigh’s Kairos retreats in the offseason.

Meanwhile, in the very chalice of afternoon humidity, practice carries on. The team has shifted to what they call tackling stations – forcing players out of bounds, driving adversaries to the ground, hitting their opponents in the numbers of their sweat-stained jerseys. Cady, meanwhile, drills with his fellow quarterbacks. Their work today is simple : to tighten the margin of error in each play where they are susceptible to incompletion, or interception. They discuss angles and whether to err on the side of over throwing or under throwing.  They practice cuts and routes and run the same plays between the three of them over and over again. Anything to gain an edge when Leominster calls on Friday.

At press time Cady had led the varsity Eagles to a commanding 61-39 win on Sept. 9 against favored Andover, to give the Eagles a 1-0 record through two weeks of play (Week 2 was a scheduled bye). In fact, Cady sits on an undefeated 4-0 record across the four games he’s started at this level since 2015 — last season, Cady was recalled from the junior varsity squad after an injury felled last year’s starting quarterback at midseason. He went undefeated under difficult circumstances, the highlight of which was the annual Thanksgiving Day game.

All that matters for Cady, however, is that next game. Coach Bartlett was right. Football players only get one game a week to prove themselves worthy of the game they play. And Cady seems poised to make that game count.

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“We Get One Game”