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Darren Major solidified his spot on the defensive line as a senior with the North Haven football squad this fall, making 56 tackles for the Indians. (Photo courtesy of Darren Major )
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Darren Major didn’t play much football at the youth level. In fact, Darren stopped playing football in 4th grade, because he really didn’t like the sport. However, Darren came back in 8th grade as a way to stay in shape, and he’s been a fixture on the gridiron ever since. Darren competed for the North Haven football team during all four years of high school, capping his career by having a solid senior season as a defensive lineman.
“I’ve always been a defensive kind of guy. I like the idea of trying to figure out what they’re going to do before I do it. If they’re double-teaming me, I like to split it. I like having that sense of not knowing what is coming at you,” says Darren, who played the nose tackle position. “You always have to be alert, and that keeps you on edge while you’re out there. It gives you a sense of urgency, and defense is one of the only things that can provide that feeling.”
Last year, Darren saw his playing time with the Indians diminish following their game against Pomperaug during the middle of the season. It was a disappointing setback for Darren, but ultimately, it provided a wakeup call that changed the trajectory of his football career.
“It put me in a position where I can’t go much further down, so I busted my butt and never let it happen again,” Darren says. “It gave me an extra sense of purpose. I worked from the bottom to get to where I was at the end of my career.”
Head Coach Anthony Sagnella was pleased to see Darren embrace the virtues of the program in the months that preceded his senior year. Sagnella says that Darren took his energy level to a different plateau while helping North Haven win eight games and make the playoffs this fall. Darren finished the season with a total of 56 tackles.
“He saw his minutes reduced, but Darren was really resilient, and never gave up on himself or the program. He worked his tail off that offseason and assumed quite a bit of leadership on and off the field,” says Sagnella. “What we got was a very reliable two-way player. He’s versatile enough to play two or three positions on offense, and he held down a starting position on defense for most of the season.”
Darren put in the extra work because he wanted to prove that he could make an impact for the Indians. He also wanted his teammates to know that he was always going to be there for them.
“I realized at the end of the season, those four weeks where I didn’t play, I not only let myself down, but I let my teammates down,” Darren says. “I didn’t want to feel that again, so that kicked some sense into me where I knew I had to go get after it. I needed 100-percent effort and needed to elevate myself, because I never wanted to let them down again.”
While Darren found his niche on the field, some of his best work occurred in the film room. Darren made plenty of key adjustments as a result of watching film, helping him become a factor on the defensive side of the ball.
“Sometimes while watching offensive film, I’d watch the opposing nose tackle on the other team to see what they were doing to see what would work. I would make that a focal point,” says Darren. “Through the extra studying of film, I realized I had issues with my posture. I needed to get lower, keep my hands inside, and tuck my elbows. Watching film made me more aware of what techniques worked versus different types of blocks.”
Although Darren wasn’t a captain this season, he still took on a leadership role for North Haven. Like his fellow seniors, Darren would speak up whenever someone needed a little push.
“There were some days where it would be flat, and there wasn’t a lot of energy. All of the seniors would be vocal,” he says. “That carried over to practice where, if I saw two younger kids in the back, I’d go over and tell them to pay more attention because, if someone wasn’t giving 100-percent effort, we needed to let them know that they need to put the work in.”
Darren will always value the time that he spent manning the Indians’ line on Friday nights. Darren says the brotherhood among everyone on the squad was his favorite part of playing football for North Haven.
“Our relationship kept getting stronger. The more we played, the more we realized these men are my brothers,” says Darren. “We were all willing to put in the same work every day on the field, off the field, and in the weight room. We developed this sense of brotherhood on the team where we knew we had each other’s back at any given moment.”
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