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Nick Dodge capped his high school football career with an excellent senior season at North Haven this fall. Nick, a senior captain who played both running back and linebacker, earned All-Conference, All-State, and Walter Camp honors on defense for the Indians. (Photo courtesy of Nick Dodge )
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Nick Dodge has been around football his entire life. Nick’s father, Mike Dodge, was the longtime defensive coordinator at Southern Connecticut State University and served as a huge influence for Nick on the gridiron. Nick put what he learned from his dad to good use as a member of the North Haven football squad these past few years.
“Obviously, that is going to put extra pressure on me. Him being a football coach, I’d watch film with him on Saturdays, and it helped a lot,” Nick says. “I wanted to do good by my father, so I had a lot of expectations to live up to.”
North Haven Head Coach Anthony Sagnella says that Nick’s father taught him specific details about the sport that helped him become a better player. This fall, Nick earned a variety of accolades for the Indians while leading the squad as a senior captain, including a spot on the All-State Team as a linebacker.
“He comes from a football family in that his dad had quite a career himself coaching at the college level,” Coach Sagnella says. “I know that his father had a tremendous influence not only on his love and interest of the game, but his understanding of the game. He has the ability to see it differently from most kids.”
Nick, whose brother Tom also played for North Haven, was one of five senior captains who guided the Indians into battle this season. Nick says he liked the added pressure of being relied upon to lead the team in the captain’s helm.
“I definitely enjoyed being a captain. It puts more responsibility on you, and it puts more pressure on you. It’s a great honor and a lot easier to gain the respect of your peers,” Nick says. “When you’re the captain, you can’t just sit back and not act like it. It makes you step up to be a leader.”
True to family form, Nick feels that he made the biggest impact on the defensive side of the football. As the Indians’ middle linebacker, he totaled a combined 150 tackles between the past two seasons.
“I understood the defense and how it works, various coverages and formations, so that definitely helped,” says Nick, who’s 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. “It wasn’t my size, but I think because I’m pretty good at reading the guards, so it’s easier to command the defense from the middle of the field. I just knew what was going on all the time. When people weren’t sure where they’re supposed to be or what to do, I could always help them out.”
Coach Sagnella says that Nick used a combination of skills and savvy to thrive at the linebacker position. In his senior year, Nick made the All-SCC Tier 1 Team as a linebacker, in addition to solidifying spots on the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All State Class L Team and the Walter Camp All-State Second Team.
“He’s not a very big guy, and he played a position on defense that was right in the middle of it, so I think Nick did an outstanding job of taking the tools that he had to be a great football player,” says Sagnella. “He was very athletic and combined that with his intelligence and understanding of the game. Him making quite a few teams proves he mastered the ability to use his strengths.”
Nick also emerged as a key contributor for North Haven’s rushing attack during his senior season. Nick carried the ball 90 times for 715 yards and nine touchdowns this year, while helping the Indians continue their impressive run of success on the field.
“I didn’t have much experience on that side of the ball. Last year, I didn’t even play one snap of offense, so it was all new. The first thing I learned is that it’s much more tiring when you play both ends of the ball,” Nick says. “I’m a big fan of running the ball, and our offense was pretty good for it. It feels great to put up points on the board for your team.”
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