Jack Crowell gives opposing quarterbacks and tailbacks nightmares. A senior tri-captain for the Weston football team, he earned First Team All-SWC and First Team All-State honors this fall and hopes to play at the next level.

"It feels good and it feels even better to get it with [senior tri-captain] Eddie [Hutchins] and [senior] Jacob [Spencer]," Crowell says.

Weston benefited greatly from Crowell's play on both sides of the ball and had a 6-4 record for its best season in eight years.

"Jack has a lot of potential and he has developed over the years," Trojans Coach Joe Lato says. "He worked hard in the weight room, worked hard on technique, was coachable and made the big plays for us. He's a standout on defense and offense and he punted well for us too."

Defense is his specialty with Crowell playing an instrumental job in containing Weston's opponents. A linebacker by trade, he was moved over to defensive end where he was involved in many plays and ended the year with 40 tackles.

"Coaching is the first part," Crowell says. "We have a great lineman coach in Dave Fasurelli and he helped us out a lot. We had great linemen this year, which helped us open up a great pass rush."

The 6-4, 215-pound Crowell led the pass rush with six sacks. His ability to beat the blockers, coupled with his quickness and built, enabled him to get to the quarterback and sack him.

"I think the No. 1 thing is to get a good jump off the ball," Crowell says. "You can't stop and have to keep going. It's all about training. Coach Lato has us in the weight room a lot and it helps with agility. Height definitely helps for pass rushing and having long arms helps. Getting your arms up distracts the vision of the quarterback."

Moreover, Crowell delivers tackles and sacks in the clutch. Two of his biggest sacks came in a 43-35 shootout win at Oxford, which prevented the Wolverines from driving towards the game-tying touchdown.

"When the team needed me to make the play, I went for it," Crowell says.

Pressuring the quarterback isn't his only offensive strength. Crowell was also instrumental in containing opposing running backs and limiting them to short gains.

"It's all about learning technique, reading your tackle and getting a feel where the ball is," Crowell says.

His ability to hit and go after the ball enabled Crowell to force fumbles throughout his career. This year, he blocked a punt.

"It's all about being aggressive and having the instincts to force a turnover," Crowell says. "Practice, and repetition drills, helps after awhile and it becomes second nature."

Recovering fumbles isn't as easy as it looks. Sometimes, a defense fails to force a turnover because a lineman fails to pounce on the loose ball and his quest to recover the fumble becomes futile, giving the opposing offense a second wind. Crowell is efficient in these situations and does what it takes to make sure either he or a teammate recovers the fumble. He had one this year.

"You have to be the first one to the ball and think no one else will get there before you," Crowell says. "Sometimes, you can't pick it up and it's better to just fall on the ball."

Linemen don't get many opportunities to defense, let alone intercept, passes. Crowell broke up two passes this year and had three interceptions in his career, two as a sophomore, one of which he returned for a touchdown on a screen against Joel Barlow, and one during his junior year.

"You have to have a feeling for what the lineman is going to do, which will give you a feel on how the play will transpire," Crowell says. "Returning the interception for the touchdown feels good because I never get the chance to carry the ball. I think I was born with the ability to catch the ball. I'm big but not uncoordinated."

Once Weston's defense stops its opponent, Crowell's work is far from done because he's a major cog on offense as well. From his right tackle position, he helped open up gaping holes for Hutchins at tailback and protects the quarterback.

"I think I'm more of a defensive-minded player, which helps me know what the opposing defensive lineman is thinking and it helps me out on the offensive line," Crowell says. "On offense, it's more about attitude than skill. If you have the right attitude and you are aggressive, you will always win the battle."

At right tackle, Crowell was instrumental in Hutchins rushing for more than 1,000 yards and senior quad-captain quarterback Joe Falci's high-octane passing attack but he and his cohorts don't generate the headlines for it. The lack of headlines for it doesn't faze him.

"The team knows how useful we are, no one gets special treatment on the team and we're all equal," Crowell says.

Life on the gridiron began for him in eighth grade when his friends persuaded Crowell to give football a try. He played soccer before and was a star sweeper from kindergarten to seventh grade before deciding to switch fall sports. Giving up soccer for football wasn't tough for him.

"It really wasn't hard for me," Crowell recalls. "I didn't like the sport like I used to."

Once he began playing football, he improved every year. Crowell became a varsity starter sophomore year when his older brother Sam was a senior captain and was All-SWC Honorable Mention. Junior year, he was Second Team All-SWC.

"I'm very proud of Jack," Sam Crowell says. "It's cool to see him grow as a football player after I graduated. He's a good football player because he's instinctual and has a feeling for the game. It was a lot of fun being able to play with him."

Growing up, Crowell played basketball from third though eighth grade and began playing lacrosse in sixth grade, a sport he still plays for the Trojans. He played baseball from kindergarten to fifth grade and did sprinting and field events for Weston's indoor track team junior year.

In lacrosse, he's a short stick defensive midfielder. Junior year, Crowell missed the season because of an injury, which was tough but it didn't break his spirit and he plans on playing it this spring.

"Being on the sidelines always sucks and no one wants to be on the sidelines but I knew I had to rest it for football," Crowell recalls. "I went to the games and I was still a part of the team and I didn't want to give it up."

Leadership is a strength of Crowell's as he served as captain. He led both by example and verbally.

"Being captain was a positive experience," Crowell says. "All the seniors led the team and it wasn't just the captains. I wanted to show a good example to the younger players."

One player he showed a good example for wasn't a teammate but this individual is planning on being a future Trojan. That's his younger brother Alex, an eighth grader at Weston Middle School.

"He's a big roll model because he's a great student and All-State football player and I kind of look up to him," Alex Crowell says.

Alex played middle linebacker and tight end for the Aspetuck Wildcats and Jack made it a point to go to his brother's games.

"Jack taught me a lot of his moves and I play like him," Alex Crowell says. "He tells me what I do right and what I do wrong after games. I can't see what I'm doing on the field but he can. He's usually right and I try to do what he tells me to do."

Academically, he takes AP and honors courses. Math is his favorite subject.

"Using my time wisely is important," Crowell says. "I have to make room for everything. Academics come first."

Next year, Crowell will play college football.

"Jack will do very well, he has the size and the speed to play at the next level," Sam Crowell says.

The middle Crowell knows he'll have to raise his play to the next level in order to play in college.

"Obviously, I'll need to do strength and conditioning to get bigger and stronger, which will help me play at the next level," Crowell says.

Replacing him won't be easy for Weston.

"Losing a kid like Jack always leaves a big void to fill, he meant a lot to us," Lato says. "He wasn't the most vocal leader but when he spoke, it meant something. He's a special kid to coach and we were fortunate to have him."