Published December 25. 2013 4:00AM
It would be an odd headline: 'Center Fielder Wins Football Player of the Year Award.' Think, however, about the preeminent quality of preeminent center fielders:
They're all over the place.
This gap, that gap, chasing down everything.
And now you know Jordan Kowalski's talent for football, too.
He was all over the place this past season at Ledyard High School, the team's Everyman.
"There was not any other player in the area who could run the ball effectively with power and speed out of the backfield and then line up on the perimeter and be a matchup nightmare for any defensive back trying to cover him," Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore said. "On defense, there were not many (if any) who played linebacker when needed and could come off the edge with force, and then a play later line up and cover the opponents' best wide receiver in man cover on the perimeter."
Kowalski, a senior, has been named The Day's 2013 Player of the Year. Moreover, he was one of the 22 players the Connecticut High School Coaches Association selected to their top All-State team, the lone player in the region represented.
Kowalski finished with 37 catches for 727 yards, 21 touchdowns, led the team with 126 tackles and played on special teams for the Colonels, who finished 9-3.
"I know I am biased, but he was the best all-around football player this fall in our area," Buonocore said. "He had no plays off for us during the course of a game. He was on all of our cover teams and return teams. The amazing thing about it was that he did everything so well for us. He did not have any weaknesses."
Kowalski, courting collegiate offers in football and baseball, grew up next door to 2013 All-Area quarterback Ty Ebdon, whose family convinced Kowalski to play football.
"I'm glad they did," Kowalski said. "It was a great experience."
Kowalski was one of a handful of seniors who played for the Colonels. But he played like one. And acted like one. He is a fixture at other Ledyard athletic events, the de facto face of the student body.
"He set the tone for us on a day to day basis. He believed in our process," Buonocore said. "With 24 sophomores and 17 juniors playing, to say we were young is an understatement. Jordan's ability to lead and set a great example for the younger kids on what it entails to be a varsity football player was exemplary."
Ledyard returns the balance of its roster next season. It should contend for a division title and state playoff berth. But can Buonocore find another Kowalski?
"A special athlete. Most importantly, he is a great person and student. A great representative of his football team, school and community," Buonocore said. "He is well respected by the faculty and staff as well as his peers. He is one of the best leaders and all around football players I have ever encountered in my 15 years as a head coach."