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Groton - Fancy, for a minute, the prototype of The Football Player. Talk about a fastball down the middle:
Grunts a lot. One grunt for "yes." Two grunts for "no." Answers all other questions on various topics with "yes, coach," or "I'll have to watch the film."
Or as Fitch High School senior Tory Knaff says, "big, strong mean guys walking down the hallway with two ladies underneath their arms."
Then there's Knaff. Not the biggest, meanest or strongest. And if he has ladies around, he might be singing to them.
Meet Tory Knaff: Lineman, crooner, thespian.
"I like to sing, act, play the guitar," Knaff was saying recently. "Music and theater arts are my other passions."
Knaff has been singing since the fifth grade. He's been doing solos since, from the Lion King to Rascal Flatts. Even sang backup once to "Blue Moon," adding to his worldly demeanor.
How many other kids his age think "Blue Moon" is a bottle of beer rather than home to "bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang Ba ba ding a dong ding?"
All of which adds to Knaff's self-proclaimed title, "Goofy Tory."
Knaff and the Falcons play their home opener Friday night against Stonington. He's part of the charm of high school football. College and the pros are dotted with far more driven, football-centric people. High school still has room for a kid with eclectic tastes.
Knaff is a member of the Fitch Chamber Choir. He's done productions of "Hairspray" (Link Larkin) and "Annie" (Drake the Butler). And he's quite trustworthy as an offensive lineman, too.
"I had to wear a bald cap to play Drake the Butler," he said. "(His teammates) gave me a little stuff for that. But in the end, it's all laughs."
Football coaches have been known to encourage players to dabble with ballet - no, really - because the footwork and coordination translate. And not that anyone would want to see Refrigerator Perry in a tutu, but Knaff understands the dancing/blocking marriage.
"If you ever hear the quote 'linemen are the best dancers' it's because they use their feet a lot," Knaff said. "When I use my quick pull step (as an offensive guard) it's a one-two, a simple little dance. I know. A little funny."
Knaff said he'd like to major in physical education and minor in theater arts in college. Aside from football, though, he has one goal left for his senior year: to star on the morning news at the school.
"Hopefully," he said, "they pick me for sports."