Connor Bohling won his battle with adversity. A senior left tackle for the Staples football team, he earned First Team All-FCIAC honors this past fall after missing most of his junior year with a vertebrae injury.

"I was very happy to get the honor but it's more important that the team did well," Bohling said.

And to say Staples did well was an understatement. The Wreckers won the FCIAC title and were ranked No. 1 in the state for three weeks before losing the Class LL championship game in overtime. Staples ended its season at 12-1 and its left tackle deserves a great deal of credit for its success.

"To come back from the serious injury that he had and to have the year he had for us is impressive," Wreckers football coach Marce Petroccio says. "He works very hard in the weight room, is athletic and has great feet."

He suffered the injury during a preseason scrimmage. At first, he felt the pain in his back and thought it was just sore. Shortly thereafter, he found out otherwise.

"It was a shock to me because you work so hard to be there," Bohling says.

Despite the injury, he was determined to come back and played the last game of his junior year. Many players quit after a similar injury or come back feeling gun shy. Leaving the sport wasn't an option and he didn't feel any fear upon his return to the gridiron.

Once he was back on the field, he was ecstatic because he got to play the sport he loves with his friends. The feeling was mutual because his 6-5, 245-pound physique, coupled with his physical strength, enabled him to dominate the line of scrimmage and have his way with opposing defensive linemen and linebackers.

Senior tailback Matt Kelly may have generated headlines for his ability to break open long gains from scrimmage and senior captain quarterback Brandon Pacilio for the first six games and senior backup quarterback Keith Gelman may have made fantastic throws. Neither Kelly, Pacilio or Gelman would have enjoyed their success if Bohling didn't keep opposing defenders away from them.

"It's a matter of having the fire inside of you and getting your assignments down pat," Bohling says. "I did a lot of preparation and I worked on my technique. When you have a good coach, you are able to do stuff better. The way you are coached makes a difference."

Although the linemen's success is important for the play, they usually don't receive plaudits for it. This doesn't faze him.

"[Assistant] Coach Lew Socci always says the game is won by those on the line and at the end of the day, we knew what we did to win the game," Bohling says.

Bohling began playing football in sixth grade because his friends were playing it. Although his career at Staples is over, his days on the gridiron are not. He plans on playing football while doing a post graduate year next year and hopes this will land him in the Division I Patriot League.

"I have to get bigger, faster and stronger," Bohling says. "I have to get in shape."

Petroccio says, "Connor has a tremendous upside and is a great kid and hard worker. He'll make some college very happy."