The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


March 6, 2013

O’Connor ready for next level

Jefferson standout will head to Heidelberg

As a key piece to a Jefferson defense that helped lead the Falcons to a 15-5 mark over the past two season, senior Nathan O’Connor knows what it’s like to be part of a program on the upswing.

O’Connor will continue to play for a program headed in the right direction when he attends Heidelberg next season to play for the Student Princes.

Heidelberg is fresh off a 9-2 season, the first time it has had that many victories since 1972.

“I just really liked the program they had,” O’Connor said. “It’s a really nice program with a great coaching staff.”

The 6-foot-1 linebacker will likely start out on the JV squad for the Student Princes next season, but he isn’t worried about how long it takes him to get to varsity, he’s just focused on learning.

“For right now, they see me playing linebacker, start at JV then work my way up,” he said. “They run a 4-3, but they switch it up. Seeing how I’ll be a freshman and learning a whole new plan, I’m hoping to do special teams, get a chance to sub in and just do my job on scout team and make the varsity better.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal to not start as a freshman. I’ll just do my best to work my way up. Hopefully, one day I’ll be a starter.”

One thing that O’Connor believes will be a benefit to him as he adjusts to life at Heidelberg will be the team concepts he learned while playing at Jefferson.

“I learned a lot about teamwork, definitely,” he said. “That helped me but the coaching staff at Jefferson did a really good job teaching me how to work with other players.

“(Jefferson assistant) Coach (Rob) Mead did a great job working with me on my footwork and getting me ready for the next level.”

O’Connor got his first chance to start as a junior, giving him the opportunity to contribute to the Falcons’ recent string of success.

For the linebacker, the last two years were a great experience.

“These last two years were really fun,” he said. “My first year starting on varsity as a junior, that was amazing that I got to do that for the team and show the coaches what I could do.”

There were plenty of great memories for O’Connor during his time with the Falcons, but one sticks out in particular.

The senior intercepted a pass last in his final home game at Falcon Pride Stadium and returned it 13 yards in a 32-14 win over Conneaut.

“I think my favorite memory was Game 10 of this year and getting my first interception against Conneaut, that was definitely most memorable,” he said. “I hadn’t had an interception. My parents always wanted me to get an interception or a fumble return for a touchdown. It was the last game and I wasn’t really expecting it.

“But it was really memorable, especially being on senior night.”

The son of Jim and Susie O’Connor said his parents were very helpful with the recruiting process.

“They have been very helpful with just getting to the schools and talking with the coaches to making sure it was the right choice for me,” he said. “They’ve always supported me since I started playing football. They really supported me in all my sports throughout my life.”

O’Connor also credited Jefferson coach Jimmy Henson, assistant Dave Wright and the aforementioned Mead as being positive influences on him.

“Coach Henson was a great coach,” he said. “Especially, with him giving me a chance on defense and just letting me learn the scheme and help the team. Big Dog (Wright) and Mead always gave me great support.”

Between now and the start of next season, O’Connor, who plans to major in environmental science, said he’ll continue to work on strength to prepare him for the next level.

“The coaches are making sure I’m lifting and getting ready for their program,” he said. “They mainly want me to get stronger so that I’m ready to go against some of those 300-pound offensive lineman.”

Text Only
  • Jefferson flying high

    Jefferson boys track coach T.J. Furman didn’t know what to expect from his young team coming into the 2014 season.

    April 20, 2014

  • Scholastic Statistics:

    Jefferson 130, Pymatuning Valley 88, Springfield 75, Southeast 73.50, LaBrae 67, Liberty 56.50, Conneaut 44, Maplewood 39, Chalker 32, Windham 18
    at LaBrae

    April 20, 2014

  • Advantage, Diemer

    Every pitcher wants to get the advantage against every batter she faces. Edgewood lefty Taylor Diemer gave herself that edge and it proved to be key as the Warriors topped Madison, 1-0, Friday at Edgewood.

    April 19, 2014

  • Scholastic Statistics:

    Edgewood 1, Madison 0
    at Edgewood

    April 19, 2014

  • Scholastic Schedule:


    Brookfield at Conneaut (1)
    Grand Valley at Berkshire (10)
    Chardon at Madison (DH, 11)
    Edgewood at Fairport (11)
    West Geauga at Riverside (11)

    April 19, 2014

  • Spartans knock around Dragons

    After being cooped up in gymnasiums for the better part of the season so far, the Conneaut and Lakeside softball teams were just happy to get onto a diamond. Playing for the first time in nearly a week, the Spartans toppled the Dragons, 11-2, Thursday afternoon at Lakeside.

    April 18, 2014

  • PV can’t get past Mathews

    Thursday afternoon at Pymatuning Valley, the visiting Mathews Mustangs were able to do what every coach hopes for — execute. They played a clean game from start to finish in every facet of the game, and that carried the Mustangs to an 8-2 Northeastern Athletic Conference victory.

    April 18, 2014

  • Scholastic Statistics:

    Matthews 8, PV 2
    at PV

    April 18, 2014

  • Scholastic Schedule:


    Geneva at Edgewood (11)
    Niles McKinley at Edgewood (5)
    Conneaut at Lakeside (4:30)
    Madison at Euclid (4:30)
    Madison at Edgewood (4:30)
    Geneva at Mentor (10, DH)
    Conneaut at Madison (4)

    April 18, 2014

  • Justin Butler Justin time

    It was just four short years ago that Justin Butler was spending his fall on a soccer field.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Sports Week in Review April 14 to 19
Sports Week in Review April 7-12
Spring Sports Practice in Ashtabula County
2014 AP BB Tourney Top 25
2014 AP BB Tourney Scoreboard
2014 AP BB Tourney News
2014 AP BB Tourney Photos
Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic
Girls Regional Basketball Action
Week of Champions
Sports Week in Review February 21, 22
Grand Valley at Edgewood Boys Basketball
Sports Week in Review Feb. 3 to 8
Sports Week in Review January 30 to Feb. 1
Sports Week in Review January 13-18
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video