By Dan Guttenplan
---- — AMESBURY — Amesbury football coach Thom Connors still laughs when he looks at a photo of his son, Tommy, hanging in his locker.
The photo depicts Tommy as an Amesbury High freshman in 2009 with his jersey bunched around his waistline. Half of the number on the jersey is tucked down Tommy’s pants due to the oversized fit on the team’s smallest jersey.
At the time, Tommy Connors stood just over 5 feet and just over 110 pounds. Now, nearly a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier, Connors will represent Amesbury in two Agganis All-Star Classic events. He will play for the North in the 19th annual Baseball Classic Sunday at Fraser Field in Lynn. Four days later, he will play for the North again in the 52nd Football Classic June 27 at Manning Field.
“I think he’s always had pretty good skills,” said coach Thom Connors. “From the time he was with the Amesbury Jets, or youth basketball, or Little League, he was always a skilled little athlete. But the key term was ‘little’ athlete.”
Connors grew into one of the Cape Ann League’s best three-sport athletes. Having grown to 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds this year, Connors was an All-CAL selection in football and baseball. He was also a CAL All-Star in basketball.
Coach Connors believes his son is the first Amesbury athlete to earn selections to the Agganis Football and Baseball Classic in the same season.
“The size has helped him,” Coach Connors said. “Any time you’re completely undersized playing high school athletics, it’s tough. One thing he’s had is experience on the football field, basketball court and baseball field. He’s been around it with me all his life. It’s one of the intangible things you can’t coach. He gets the coaching aspect, being a player, and he understands the concepts of being on a team. He’s watched a lot of film, particularly in football.”
Tommy Connors was one of the more versatile players on the Cape Ann League Division 3 champion Amesbury team last fall. He was used as a receiver out of the backfield and in the slot, and he also had his share of carries. He had more than 400 yards on the ground as well as 400-plus more through the air as a receiver. He will play football at Endicott College in the fall.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the Agganis games at all,” Tommy Connors said. “I heard about them, and I always wanted to do that. But I wasn’t really thinking about it during the year. I was just playing, not really playing for that.”
Connors played his best games late in the football season when Amesbury was vying for a postseason berth. In a pre-Thanksgiving victory over Pentucket, he forced a fumble and later scored on a 9-yard run that ended with his doing a backflip into the end zone. In Amesbury’s 35-14 loss to Lynnfield in the playoffs, Connors had an interception and a touchdown.
“He has a burning desire to win,” said Coach Connors. “He’s certainly been around and had experience playing on good teams. He never gives up in a contest, he never threw in the towel. He played until the final whistle because he’s been hearing that since he was a kid.”
This year, Connors seemed to provide a winning spark to an Amesbury team in each of the three seasons. The football team won its first CAL title since 2008, the basketball team made the state tournament for the first time in more than a decade, and the baseball team qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“Making the playoffs in football was the highlight of my senior year,” Connors said. “That, and beating Newburyport. Being an underdog for a lot of the season and proving everyone wrong — that’s what it’s all about.”
Local Agganis Classic selections
FOOTBALL: Tommy Connors, Amesbury; Niko Edwards, Georgetown; Tim Freiermuth, Pentucket; Devlin Gobeil, Amesbury; Curran O’Connor, Amesbury; Cody Rothwell, Pentucket
SOFTBALL: Carolina Merrill, Amesbury; Cassie Schultz, Amesbury
BASEBALL: Tommy Connors, Amesbury
BOYS BASKETBALL: Zakariya Alaoui, Triton
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Alex Moore, Pentucket; Tess Nogueira, Pentucket; Nicole Viselli, PentucketGIRLS SOCCER: Megan Cullen, Amesbury; Haley DesRosiers, Pentucket; Janine Fatal, Amesbury
2013 Agganis Classic Schedule
16th Softball Classic Sunday, June 23 11 a.m. Manning Field
19th Baseball Classic Sunday, June 23 1 p.m. Fraser Field
9th Women’s Basketball Classic Monday, June 24 6 p.m. Lynn Classical
9th Men’s Basketball Classic Monday, June 24 7:30 p.m. Lynn Classical
2nd Women’s Lacrosse Classic Tuesday, June 25 5:30 p.m. Manning Field
2nd Men’s Lacrosse Classic Tuesday, June 25 7:30 p.m. Manning Field
18th Women’s Soccer Classic Wednesday, June 26 5:30 p.m. Manning Field
18th Men’s Soccer Classic Wednesday, June 26 7:30 p.m. Manning Field
52nd Football Classic Thursday, June 27 7 p.m. Manning Field