Sports Person of the Week
Tavares Earns Starting Spots as a Senior
Dylan Tavares earned a starting spot at wide receiver and strong safety for the East Haven football team as a senior this season. (Photo courtesy of Dylan Tavares)
Dylan Tavares’s love for the sport of football started at a young age and has only grown through the years. After waiting for his chance to compete for the East Haven football team, Dylan has become a varsity starter and a difference maker on both sides of the ball in his senior season.
Dylan joined East Haven’s Youth Football league at the age of four. Dylan had always liked watching football and was encouraged to play by his father Mac. Dylan’s dad served as one of his coaches in the youth league, helping Dylan develop his skills and fostering his love for the gridiron.
“I always liked watching football since I was younger. My dad introduced it to me. I fell in love with the sport,” Dylan says. “He played when he was younger and coached me in youth. It was a great father-and-son bonding time. There was a lot of work after practice. He helped me work on my skills. I liked it a lot.”
Dylan played in the youth league until his freshman year at East Haven. As he put in more work, Dylan saw himself becoming a better football player and enjoyed playing the sport more and more.
While he played a bit of quarterback during his middle school years, Dylan currently suits up as a wide receiver and a strong safety with East Haven. On the offensive side of the ball, Dylan has always looked up to and modeled his game after former New England Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman. Dylan likes reeling in catches for the Easties, in addition to making big plays on defense.
“I always loved receivers. I looked up to Julian Edelman on the Patriots. He’s who I strived to become. I always wanted to be a safety. Now I’m both,” says Dylan. “Playing wide receiver was always a dream. I always wanted to catch touchdowns. I wanted to make big plays on defense and make interceptions. The best times in the sport are getting a good hit in and getting a good catch.”
Dylan played for East Haven’s JV team after joining the program as a freshman. Despite having numerous years of experience in the town’s youth league, Dylan’s transition to high school football gave him a challenge that he had yet to experience.
“Transitioning from middle school to JV football was a very big change. The atmosphere is completely different,” Dylan says. “Practices are harder, but they’re more fun. You get down to everything. It’s so much different than middle school.”
Dylan continued playing JV in his sophomore year and then saw his junior season get canceled due to COVID-19. He then became a varsity starter as a senior this year. Dylan says that playing varsity has allowed him to further develop his game, while learning from both his teammates and his competitors.
As a freshman, Dylan felt nervous that he wouldn’t be big enough to contribute at the varsity level. However, as the years went on, Dylan began to gain confidence and started unlocking his potential on the football field.
“The smallest player could still be good,” says Dylan, who’s 5 feet, 7 inches. “It made me strive more to be better than I was. I wanted to go further. There’s always more you can grow. It made me where I am now.”
Head Coach Scott Benoit has seen Dylan make tremendous strides during the past few years. Benoit says that Dylan never takes a play off in games or practices, providing exemplary leadership for the younger players on the roster.
“Dylan brings consistency and leadership to our team. He has never missed a practice or a workout in all his years of being here,” Benoit says. “Dylan practices hard and is a great example for our younger kids.”
Aside from football, Dylan has also been a member of East Haven’s wrestling team since his freshman year. Dylan competed in five different weight classes last season, taking to the mat at 128, 132, 136, 145, and 150 pounds. By participating in both wrestling in football, Dylan has improved his conditioning and increased his technical abilities in each sport.
“Wrestling definitely helps out a lot with football. It’s all about taking someone down. How you take someone down relays back to football,” says Dylan. “The conditioning from football helps with wrestling. The strength you gain from both really goes hand and hand.”
Every time that he puts on the pads, Dylan is representing the town of East Haven on the gridiron. Dylan feels honored to compete for his hometown alongside a group of guys that he considers his brothers.
“It has been awesome, growing up with the same kids around me. We have all gotten better at the same time. Watching each other grow has been a highlight of my life,” Dylan says. “I’ve grown up with my best friends. Playing football, we’ve been through everything at this point. They’re quite literally my brothers. They’ll always be family to me.”