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
  • Coming attractions

    While it seems only yesterday school was letting out and summer vacation was starting, the time for respite will have the curtain drop for area high school football players this week.

    July 28, 2014


    TUESDAY, AUG. 12

    • Lake Catholic at Perry (10)

    July 28, 2014

  • Lexi Outlaws gunning for national title in Virginia

    There’s gold in their name and that’s just what the Ohio Outlaws Gold softball squad is gunning for at the USA-ASA 16-and-under Nationals this week in Salem, Va.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Brandon Easton A Don McCormack column:Easton on right pitch in Florida

    Paying a Monday morning visit to the variety store...

    Firing away
    The second summer as a professional baseball player has been an excellent one for Brandon Easton, to this point.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Dale Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: OEW doing good job of passing it on

    On July 18, 19 and 20, the Ashtabula County Wildlife Conservation League (ACWCL) along with Ashtabula Rod & Gun Club (ARGC) held their annual OEW (Outdoor Education Weekend) Weekend.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kaydee Vaulting to The Rock

    When Jefferson’s Kaydee DeVivo first started pole vaulting as a freshman for the Falcons, she knew it was the event for her.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • run VanHoy racing on

    Geneva track star Hailey VanHoy had a near unbelievable run of success during her final months running for the Eagles.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Danielle Zip-ing along

    Just minutes after Geneva’s Danielle Nicholson holed out on the 18th green at the Gray Course at Ohio State University during her freshman year to win the 2011 Division I state championship, the recruitment process of where she would go to college began.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maruna headed for Mount

    LeeAnn Maruna never really expected to play collegiate golf. She was so taken aback when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t know how to respond. After all, the Grand Valley graduate had only been playing the game for a few years.

    July 23, 2014

  • Crate Late Models featured

    The Evergreen Lake Park Campground Crate Late Models, the premier class at Raceway 7, will be featured Friday night as they race for $1,000 to win.

    July 23, 2014

Little League All-Stars July 1 to 12
AP NASCAR Lastest News
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
AP NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
AP Auto Racing Photos
West Side Shootout 2014
Ashtabula County at State Track Meet
Jefferson vs Akron St. Vincent St. Mary Regional Softball
District Track 2014
Jefferson District Softball Tournament
Bob Walters 50 Years
Geneva vs Perry Division II District Semifinal
Sports Week in Review May 12 to May 17
Sports Week in Review May 5 to May 10 2014
Sports Week in Review April 28 to May 3
Sports Video Archive
House Ads
AP Video