ANSONIA — Beacon Falls natives Mike DeCampos and Connor Jurzynski didn’t choose to attend Emmett O’Brien Tech to play football. Not many kids do.
But as their senior year approached, the longtime friends and electrical tradesmen thought about the gridiron. Why not?
“It was just a senior-year decision,” DeCampos said. “I’ve always played backyard football and was kind of good at it, but I never thought of playing legitimate football before. I decided to try it now.”
Jurzynski’s thought process was a little more superficial.
“I always just thought football players looked cool, wearing all the pads and everything,” Jurzynski said. “I was like, ‘I’d like to be one of them someday.’ And it finally hit me: Oh, I’m a senior in high school.”
And so they joined Nick Aprea’s squad, one that usually flounders in the Constitution State Conference. Forget experience; Aprea welcomed them aboard.
“Michael had that I-want-to-learn attitude, and a lot of kids aren’t like that,” Aprea said. “You could just tell (Jurzynski) was just different in terms of being so athletic. Their football IQ wasn’t up to the level of guys who have played for a while, but we’re so much better with them this year.”
With the pair of rookies from Beacon Falls joining some veteran players in the backfield, the Condors won their first two games for the first time in program history and stood at 2-1 in CSC play entering October.
“In a situation where that hasn’t happened (before), it’s big confidence,” Aprea said. “It was a little bit different. I was Vince Lombardi for two weeks.”
Both local newcomers have contributed to the team’s success. Jurzynski is one of the Condors’ leading rushers with 24 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, while DeCampos supplemented his blocking duties with 30 rushing yards and three catches — one of them for a score.
“We actually have a big senior class (18 players) and we have a pretty athletic class,” said DeCampos, a 6-foot, 170-pounder who mostly lines up at fullback. “I felt really confident that we could actually win games this year.”
“It kind of just fell into place and things started working out,” added Jurzynski, a 5-foot-8, 150-pounder who is one of about five players earning consistent carries in the single-wing offense.
That offense was newly installed over the summer when Aprea studied with North Haven coach Tony Sagnella. It’s given more opportunities to players like DeCampos and Jurzynski, who probably wouldn’t have gotten the same number of touches in seasons past.
“We moved eight or nine kids to the backfield, and any one of them can get the ball snapped to them in a game,” Aprea said. “It’s sort of the opposite of the spread. I remember Chris Anderson at Woodland saying, ‘Kids love coming here because we throw the ball all over the place.’ Well, the kids like this now because there are eight kids carrying the football.”
Even though the opportunities have been there right off the bat for DeCampos and Jurzynski, the duo encountered a learning curve that required plenty of questions.
“I’ve known the game of football on TV and everything, but playing on the field is completely different,” DeCampos said. “I’ve gotten used to it now, but when I first started, I had questions about everything.”
They’ll only have another month and a half to ask those questions before their relatively brief football careers come to an end. O’Brien Tech has a bye this week before visiting Cheney Tech on Oct. 14. The Condors will end their season on Thanksgiving at Platt Tech.
“I don’t want to look back on it and think that I could have done something better,” Jurzynski said.
“We’re both running backs now,” DeCampos said, “so I think we’re going to do some damage.”