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Former Stonington High School quarterback Heston Sutman went on to play for Central Connecticut State University, where he earned All-ECAC honors as a wide receiver. He still holds records at Central for most catches in a single game (13, 1993) and most catches in a season (70, 1994).
"You quickly get knocked down a huge peg," Sutman said of his transition to college football. "You think you're quite a player. And Central Connecticut isn't Notre Dame, but there's a red team, a blue team, a white team; we were the fourth string."
Sutman and his teammates dubbed their squad the "plaid team."
"We had to make it fun," Sutman said. "You weren't very good. You had to start all over again. … That's pretty much the way things work in life, too, you always start on the plaid team and work your way back up again."
Sutman, is now the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Old Saybrook Public Schools. He and his wife, Liz, Waterford High School's softball coach, have four sons; the oldest, 11-year-old Walker, played tight end for Waterford's Junior Division team which won the Southern New England Youth Football Conference championship on Sunday.
Once Stonington's captain, Sutman was named The Westerly Sun's Offensive Player of the Decade for the 1980s. He is a member of Stonington's Athletic Hall of Fame.
Still, he says, there's nothing like being a part of the high school football rivalry between Westerly and Stonington, which celebrates its 100th anniversary Thursday with the series' 152nd meeting and Stonington in need of a victory to qualify for the playoffs.
"In the 100-plus games I played in my life, the two biggest games I ever played in are junior and senior years of high school on Thanksgiving," Sutman said. "In college you don't have the atmosphere.
"I remember going over to play at Westerly and before the game we'd be in this old, old gym, with old patches on the walls, old bleachers. It was like you were stuck in time. Every down (of those games) was so important to you.
"When I think of those games I just think of George Burnside, Jacob Palmer, Scott Banks, Ron Cook, a core group of guys and we played pee wee all the way through. Then Thanksgiving is your last game together. … I would think that the next generation would have that same nostalgia."