Athol’s Connor Cox helps Clinton win American Youth Football state title

  • Athol’s Connor Cox (22, to right of No. 85) stands with the Eighth Grade American Youth Football Massachusetts State Championship trophy on Sunday. Cox won the title playing for Clinton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2021 8:03:30 PM

Athol’s Connor Cox played a key role in his team becoming state champions on Sunday.

Cox plays for the Clinton eighth-grade football team and on Sunday, his squad competed against Foxboro in the Eighth Grade American Youth Football State Championship in Bellingham.

Tied 6-6 with just a few minutes left in the championship game, Cox got the ball up the middle, broke a few tackles and plunged into the end zone to seal a 14-6 Clinton victory. 

“It was amazing,” Cox said. “I couldn’t believe it.” 

Cox chose to play for Clinton after working with their coaches during the Central Mass. All-Star team. Each year, three-to-five players from each team in Central Mass. are selected to compete for a spot on the All-Star team. Those 150 kids are then whittled down to 36, who go down to Florida to compete with the best in the country. 

Cox went down with the Central Mass. All-Star team as a fifth grader and finished second overall as a team. He was selected again last year, with his team finishing in third. 

His bond with those coaches led him to play with Clinton in the American Youth Football League this fall. 

“I went to Clinton because I’ve known the coaches for a while,” Cox said. “It’s a better opportunity for me. It’s family out there with all of them.” 

Playing for Clinton took a lot of dedication. The team practiced three times a week, which meant a trio of 45-minute trips to practice throughout the season.

It was his first year doing so, and he acclimated with a team that had been playing together for a long time.

“Everyone on the team has been playing together since the third or fourth grade,” Cox said. “Myself and two other kids were the only new ones this year. We have 22 kids and it’s a good group.” 

The Clinton squad was certainly happy to add Cox to the mix. He rushed for eight touchdowns in the first four games of the season, helping Clinton get out to a 5-0 record. 

He also ran in a big touchdown in the semifinals against Tewksbury before his game-winning score in the title game on Sunday. Not only did he make an impact on offense, he was also a stalwart at linebacker on defense. He does, however, prefer to have the rock in his hands.

“I like offense most,” Cox said. “I like getting the ball and trucking through kids.” 

Cox comes from a football family. His older brother, Caleb, is currently the quarterback at Athol High School. 

Cox is still deciding where he will go to high school next year, though he likes the idea of staying with his team in Clinton. 

“I’m still unsure where I’ll go next year,” Cox said. “I might go to Clinton to stay with the same kids because I think we have a ton of potential together.” 

In the meantime, Cox will head back down to Florida for the All-Star League. He enjoys getting to compete against great competition down south.

“It’ll be my third time going down there and every time we go it’s great competition,” Cox said. “The teams are a lot better down there. It’s good to play against people who are better than you. Even when you lose, you’re winning because you're getting better.” 


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