Boston High School: Paul Pasqualoni

Player Perspective: Masuk's Casey Cochran

November, 6, 2011
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His name is Casey Cochran, and he's the most prolific quarterback who's ever played high school football in Connecticut.

Cochran, who's in his senior season at Masuk High School in Monroe, owns the state record for career passing yards (9,797), career completions (573) and career touchdowns (104). He passed the century mark in touchdown passes when he threw for five touchdowns in a 55-6 victory over New Milford on Oct. 28.

Cochran guided New London High School to Connecticut's Class SS title in 2008 before he transferred to Masuk. His father, Jack, coached that New London team. It's one of eight teams Jack has guided to a CIAC state title (he's tied with New Canaan's Lou Marinelli for most state titles by a Connecticut head coach).

Cochran helped Masuk win the Class L title last season, when he passed for 3,345 yards and 40 touchdowns (seven interceptions). Following his junior season he was named Connectcut's Gatorade Player of the Year. Cochran has completed 88 of 111 passes for 2,097 yards and 29 touchdowns in eight games (all victories) this season. Masuk extended the program's winning streak to 21 games by beating Pomperaug 49-3 on Saturday night.

Cochran recently spoke with ESPNBoston.com and was asked him about his passing records, his decision to attend the University of Connecticut and the possibility of winning another state championship this season:

Q: You've set quite a few records this season. Are you proudest of one more than the others?

[+] EnlargeCasey Cochran
Christopher Beauchamp/ESPNHSMasuk (Conn.) QB Casey Cochran recently eclipsed the 100-touchdown-pass plateau for his career and is the state's all-time leader in scoring passes.
A: "Not necessarily. Coming into the year I had heard that there were a couple records coming up, but I tried to keep my mind away from them. I've found that not looking at the stats and just going out and playing, going out and winning games, you'll eventually get there. So my mindset has kind of shifted. Early in my career it was all about getting the best stats, the awards and everything. Quarterbacks are measured too much about their stats. I feel like wins are a lot more important than how many yards you threw for … how many touchdowns you threw. Completion percentage is also very important. There are a lot of guys who go out and throw 50 touchdowns, but they might have only completed 50 percent of their balls. I think a high completion percentage and winning percentage are the true stats people should look at."

Q: What do you consider your strength to be as a quarterback?

A: "I believe accuracy, and I believe reading coverages. That's what it's come down to the past two years – reading coverages and putting the ball where it needs to be. Getting my offense out of plays that can't work versus a defense pre-snap, and getting it to the right receiver post-snap."

Q: What was it like to play for your father and how much has he contributed to your success growing up as a football player and as a quarterback?

A: "It was a great experience playing for my father. Not many kids get to play for their father at a high level in high school. He instilled a great work ethic in me and that really carried through into my years in high school. He's taught me to have a great work ethic in everything I do -- not just in sports. If you're gonna do something, do it right. That's really rubbed off on me. I've taken that stuff to heart, and I really think that all my accomplishments have come down to hard work. He's really helped me a lot in both aspects – work ethic as well as learning the game."

Q: Are you still on pace to graduate from high school in December?

A: "Yes, and I'm supposed to start up in Storrs in January as well."

Q: What were some of the things that sold you on Connecticut as a college and a football program?

A: "First of all, it's the home-state team. It's really an honor to play for your home state. The coaching change (Connecticut hired Paul Pasqualoni to replace Randy Edsall when Edsall became Maryland's head coach). I believe Coach Pasqualoni is a very good coach. I really like the coaching staff and everyone on it. I got closer with them during the offseason, so it was a very easy choice once the [scholarship] offer came."

Q: Are you concerned at all with all of the conference reshuffling? Is that troublesome to you at all?

A: "No. I've been trying not to worry about it too much during the season. I made a commitment to Coach Pasqualoni and the UConn football team. I trust that the athletic director, the UConn president as well as the Big East commissioner will put UConn and entire Big East in a great position."

Q: Is this year's team the best team you've played on.

A: "I think every year has been a little different. I think this year we're very tight-knit as an offense. We have a lot of timing. We've done a lot of work together. Being able to do passing leagues in the winters and the summers and just the work we've put in in the offseason has contributed to us being a great offense this year. Our running back, Colin Markus, is a great runner, and he sets up a lot of our passes. The play action is when he's running so hard and the defense tends to come up a little bit. That's when we can get over the top. Our O line, coming into the year they were a pretty young O line, but they've stepped it up. As an offense together we really work together well and a lot of hard work is paying off for all of us."

New England Roundup: Connecticut

July, 20, 2011
7/20/11
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When Paul Pasqualoni was the football coach at Syracuse he did what he could to lure Connecticut’s best talent out of state. How times have changed.

ConnecticutPasqualoni, who is in his first season as UConn’s head coach, is now doing everything he can to keep Connecticut’s top players at home. He got off to a good start when Ansonia High School running back Montrell Dobbs committed to UConn on July 7.

"I'm a Connecticut guy, and UConn is like the Rutgers of New Jersey -- it's our big-time school," Dobbs said. "I'm not sure if they had any interest in me when [former coach] Randy Edsall was there. Edsall had a reputation of not getting in-state kids [Connecticut signed eight in-state players in its last three recruiting classes], but I think with Pasqualoni there things are gonna change."

New Britain's Tebucky Jones and Bloomfield's Dwight Freeney are two of the Connecticut residents who played at Syracuse under Pasqualoni.

Connecticut was the only FBS school that made a scholarship offer to Dobbs, who said he also received mild interest from Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse and Cincinnati.

He's the first in-state recruit Connecticut landed since Pasqualoni replaced Edsall as UConn's head coach.

Dobbs ran for more than 300 yards in seven of Ansonia's 13 games last season. He finished the season with 3,445 yards rushing -- the second-highest single-season total in state history -- on 406 carries.

He'll attend Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., next season and plans to enroll at UConn in January. LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh/Philadelphia Eagles) and Shonn Greene (Iowa/New York Jets) are among the running backs who played at Milford Academy.

He is expected to sign a national letter of intent in February.

"A year of prep school is going to help me," Dobbs said. "Milford is known for its running backs and that kind of got my attention.

"I think me going to Connecticut is going to open up the door for more Connecticut kids to go there."

IMMACULATE HIRES FOOTBALL COACH
Bryan Pinabell, who has spent the last three years as an assistant coach at St. Pius X Catholic High School in Atlanta, was recently hired to become the head football coach at Immaculate.

Pinabell, an East Boston native, replaces Gary Bellagamba, who took over the program last year after spending several years as an assistant coach. Bellagamba resigned earlier this month after Immaculate posted an 0-10 record last fall.

Immaculate hasn’t had a winning season since 2003, when Steve Kaplanis led the Mustangs to the Class S semifinals. Kaplanis died at age 50 in 2005, and Immaculate has an 8-53 record under three head coaches since then.

Rebuilding programs is nothing new to Pinabell, who spent two seasons as the head coach at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, Ga. Our Lady of Mercy had won five games in six seasons when Pinabell took over, and he guided the Bobcats to seven victories – including six in 2007 – during his two seasons as the program’s head coach.

BRANFORD’S KACZYNSKI RETIRES
Branford girls basketball coach Ted Kaczynski announced his retirement on July 11.

Kaczynski, 62, spent the last 20 with the Branford girls program. He also spent one season coaching the Branford boys basketball team.

He coached boys and girls basketball at East Haven before moving on to Branford.

Kaczynski finished his career with a 355-290 record. He guided his teams to the state tournament in 26 of his 29 seasons as a head coach.

GUILFORD HIRES NEW AD
Jake Jarvis has been named to replace Chip Dorwin as the new athletic director at Guilford.

Dorwin retired at the end of the 2011 school year after spending 25 years as the school’s AD.

Jarvis, a 37-year-old Branford resident, spent the last two years as an assistant to New Haven athletic director Joe Canzanella. Jarvis has coached baseball boys basketball and girls basketball at Hyde.

Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.

Ansonia RB Montrell Dobbs commits to UConn

July, 8, 2011
7/08/11
1:51
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ESPN's Roger Brown is reporting today on his recruiting blog that Ansonia (Conn.) running back Montrell Dobbs has committed to UConn for the fall of 2012.

Dobbs, who rushed for a state-best 3,445 yards and 45 touchdowns as a junior before transferring to Milford Academy (N.Y.), is the first in-state commit for the Huskies since Paul Pasqualoni replaced Randy Edsall as head coach earlier this year.

Brown writes:


Pasqualoni often lured Connecticut's best players out of state when he was the head coach at Syracuse. New Britain's Tebucky Jones and Bloomfield's Dwight Freeney are two of the Connecticut residents who played at Syracuse under Pasqualoni.

Dobbs said he also received mild interest from Pittsburgh, Louisville, Syracuse and Cincinnati.

"I'm a Connecticut guy, and UConn is like the Rutgers of New Jersey -- it's our big-time school," Dobbs said. "I'm not sure if they had any interest in me when [Randy] Edsall was there. Edsall had a reputation of not getting in-state kids [Connecticut signed eight in-state players in its last three recruiting classes], but I think with Pasqualoni there things are gonna change."

Dobbs ran for more than 300 yards in seven of Ansonia's 13 games last season. He finished the season with 3,445 yards rushing -- the second-highest single-season total in state history -- on 406 carries.

He'll attend Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., next season and plans to enroll at Connecticut in January. LeSean McCoy (Pittsburgh/Philadelphia Eagles) and Shonn Greene (Iowa/New York Jets) are among the running backs who played at Milford Academy.

"A year of prep school is going to help me," Dobbs said. "Milford is known for its running backs and that kind of got my attention.

"I think me going to Connecticut is going to open up the door for more Connecticut kids to go there."


For more recruiting updates on New England's top high school football talent, be sure to check out Brown's ESPN blog.

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