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Mark Montano wrapped up his career with the North Haven football team by having an excellent senior season at both quarterback and defensive back for the Indians, while guiding the squad to a spot in the Class L State Playoffs. (Photo courtesy of Mark Montano )
Mark Montano collected a variety of honors for his performance as a senior captain with the North Haven football squad last fall, including a pair of All-State bids, in addition to spots on the USA Today All-Connecticut First Team and the Walter Camp All-Connecticut Second Team. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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Mark Montano saw time at multiple positions with the North Haven football team during his three years on the varsity squad, but no matter where he played, Mark always made a huge impact. As a senior captain last fall, Mark made his greatest impact while playing both quarterback and defensive back for the Indians. When all was said and done, he wound up leading Head Coach Anthony Sagnella’s club to eight wins and a berth in the playoffs, while collecting some big-time accolades along the way.
“Our team got their energy from him. There’s no doubt about that. He’s been the centerpiece for this class since he started playing football,” Coach Sagnella says of Mark. “There was never any debate of that in the locker room. He’s their guy. It’s cool to see the team rally around him. He was an outstanding leader.”
Mark showed the type of leader he is with how he guided North Haven as one of its senior captains last season. Mark says it was quite an honor for him to earn that title, especially considering all the quality captains that he looked up to throughout his early years with the program.
“The recent captains that come to mind, it was an elite group. Not only as great football players, but leaders and individuals. It was a great honor to be selected as captain this year to follow in their footsteps,” Mark says. “I wanted my fellow seniors to know that you don’t need a ‘C’ on your chest to be a leader. Everyone needs a role, and we need to lead each other. This isn’t a dictatorship, so we need everybody working together for a common goal.”
Mark played wingback for North Haven as a sophomore, before splitting time at wing and receiver in a junior season that saw him rush for 557 yards and 10 touchdowns to go with 18 receptions for 266 yards and five TDs.
In the 2017 campaign, Mark suited up at quarterback, a position that predominantly functions as a tailback in the Indians’ offense. He wound up totaling 1,375 yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground to complement his 494 yards and four TDs through the air. Mark also racked up some yards while returning kickoffs and punts for North Haven.
“In [youth football], I played a lot of wingback and then started quarterback or tailback. This year was a little bit of everything,” says Mark, who ran for 237 yards and four scores when North Haven defeated Fairfield Prep on Senior Night. “It was fun and very effective, because we were such a running team. We got a lot of guys thinking run and then we’d hit passes for big plays. It’s fun to do that and try to trick the defense.”
For his performance on the season, Mark earned a spot on the All-SCC Tier 1 Team and was also the SCC Tier 1 co-Player of the Year, in addition to making the Levi Jackson All-Star Team, the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Top 25, the New Haven Register’s All-State First Team, the USA Today All-Connecticut First Team, and the Walter Camp All-Connecticut Second Team.
Coach Sagnella says that Mark constantly made crucial plays in every aspect of the game, and he feels that much of North Haven’s success last season stemmed from how Mark performed.
“He is a determined, tough kid. Nobody worked harder than Mark, and you can tell by how many yards he got after the first contact was made. He’s not a huge guy, but he would move the pile,” says Sagnella. “He seemed to have his hands on every big play this year, whether it was a throw, a run, or an interception [on defense]. Mark was around the ball quite a bit.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Mark played safety for three seasons with the Indians. He finished his career with seven interceptions and 166 tackles.
“I always liked to have that whole view of the defense, so I can see everything and talk to my teammates to make sure everybody was in their spots,” Mark says. “I was never afraid to come downhill to make plays. A lot of smaller guys don’t like to run straight down at running backs, but I never found it as an issue. I enjoyed the hitting aspect of the game.”
Mark says that he developed a lot of grit and became a tougher football player from his experience of playing several positions. In his final ride at North Haven, Mark took all the lessons that he learned in his sophomore and junior years and applied them on the gridiron to have a spectacular sendoff season.
“Playing wing helped me get more physical. It toughened me up and helped me defensively, as well,” says Mark. “It definitely prepared me for this past season.”
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