Photo: Gregory Vasil / For Hearst Connecticut Media
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Quintin O'Connell of the New Canaan Rams catches a pass in the endzone during the 11th Annual Grip It and Rip It competition.
Photo: Matthew Brown / Hearst Connecticut Media
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New Canaan Quintin O'Connell runs in for a first half touchdown against Westhill Alan Nowlin in a FCIAC football game at Boyle Stadium in Stamford last year.

NEW CANAAN—Quintin O’Connell is one of the best athletes on a campus full of Division I talent.

Entering his senior year, O’Connell will be a captain in both football and lacrosse—where he’s committed to continue his career at the University of North Carolina—and will have equal amounts of eyes on him from opposing coaches and Ram faithful.

What’s the mood around the team this year?

“It’s funny, when you hit high school for all of the senor class you realize every year gets faster and faster. From freshman year to sophomore year was quicker and junior year felt like a blur and now suddenly we’re seniors, so we really realized this summer getting back and starting practice, because we’re seniors we understand this is our last go and we appreciate everything more. To play high school sports, it’s not a right, but a privilege and that gift won’t last forever and as seniors we grasp that more so than we did in the past and we’ve began to cherish all these moments and realize that whether you’re playing in college or not this doesn’t last forever. So, we’ve really slowed down and enjoyed every practice together and I think that’s the core of our team this year. It’s the most galvanized and collectively understand this program and wanting to leave our legacy and that’s really propelled us.”

Your relationship with quarterback Drew Pyne?

“It’s just the understanding of each other, knowing how we’re going to play not just when things are going right, but when they’re going wrong. With that our chemistry skyrockets immensely because we have that mutual love and friendship because we want to succeed for each other and it helps our timing.”

Knowing defenses are planning for you?

“It puts a chip on my shoulder, but there’s also ten other guys on the field, I can fall back to them that they’re ready to step up and perform. It pushes me harder that I’m going to have to be the best I can be to help my team, and if that means they’re game-planning for me then by all means give the other receivers single coverage and don’t stack the box and we’ll see what happens.”

How are you approaching being a captain?

“It’s a blessing to be able to play football with guys you grow up and it won’t last forever and that’s what we’ve been preaching to the younger guys. We have so many alumni that say it’s the best memories and this senior class in particular has really felt that and taken each day slowly and for each other. This year we have a new thing where we have 12 different seniors leaders that are in charge of a platoon on the team that entails a few freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors and you’re in charge of bringing them all together to make sure they all have someone to look up to and talk to. The seniors have done a good job of making you feel welcome whether you’re the best guy or the slowest guy, top to bottom were only as good as our weakest man and bringing those guys along has helped this season. We want to leave our senior legacy so that the program is in a better place than where we got it. Each year the guys do a great job of doing that and it’s our duty and honor to do that with the younger guys and carry them along.”

Following in brother Ryan’s footsteps?

“You hear the word footsteps and then sophomore year he graduates and you’re the O’Connell of the program. It was a blessing and honor to play with him but time doesn’t stop, so then I was the O’Connell at the school so I just hoped to carry on the O’Connell name with the New Canaan tradition. I really just work to be the best person I can be and give it all I have and hope it can translate on the field and we’ll see by December what legacy my class can make.”

Favorite subject?

“I take broadcasting and every Friday there’s an announcement show and the whole school watches and I’m a senior now and hope to be one of the anchors or reporters. I love that class because it’s different and fun.”

College plans?

“It’s kind of funny, I live in the moment and I’m extremely excited to go to (UNC for lacrosse) and take on that whole experience, but when it comes to school I’m interested in taking a screenwriting class, maybe acting and broadcasting. It would be fun because I’m pretty creative and different-minded, so I’d like to use that in some fun way.”

Pregame ritual?

“I like to take a nap after school, then ill shower and make pasta and ham, put the ham in the pan with a little oil so its fried, not healthy but tastes pretty good then ill slice up an apple. It’s the same pregame meal my dad made me since I was little. Then I digest, go to the church and say a prayer and then head over to the field and then I always chew a piece of Double Bubble before the game and keep the wrapper in my right sock during the game. Then after I take it out and I’ve kept them all since youth football.”

Favorite music?

“I love classic rock. I picked up the guitar this year and have been playing that. Classic rock, some country, I love Zac Brown Band. My favorite artist is either Tom Petty or Bob Seger.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP