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Heil Puts Staples' Running Attack on Track

WESTPORT, Conn. – Everyone knew Staples’ Jon Heil could run. What they have found out over the past four weeks is that he can run with a football, too.

Heil, who helped the Wreckers’ 4 x 400 relay team win the New England championship in June, has been the team’s top running back since an injury to Joey Zelkowitz midway through the season. The second-seeded Wreckers will look for another big game from Heil on Saturday when they meet top-seeded Xavier of Middletown for the Class LL championship Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field.

Heil rushed for 795 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season for Staples (12-0). But in the last four games, two of them in the playoffs, he has rushed for 627 yards and five touchdowns. He had a breakout game against Ridgefield in the quarterfinals, tallying 366 yards and four TDs. Heil’s performance against the Tigers was a single-game school record, according to the Staples football website .

“I owe it to the offensive line,’’ Heil said. “They’ve been opening big holes, and I’ve been able to find some room.”

Heil, who had just 25 carries through the first six weeks of the season, brings the kind of speed few players can offer. On the 400 relay , he ran with Sean Gallagher, Raphael Ray and John Roche for the New England title. The Wreckers also won the State Open outdoor title. He owns school records with his teammates in indoor and outdoor track in the 4 x 400 relay.

“The sports are different, but I think running track helped me be part of a team,’’ Heil said. “That teamwork has carried over to football.”

Heil was held to 65 yards on 10 carries in a 44-20 win over Newtown in the semifinals. His emergence, however, has helped the Wreckers find an offensive balance that makes them hard to stop. With quarterback Jack Massie (13 touchdown passes, seven rushing touchdowns) directing the offense, Staples has a versatile attack that also includes Nick Kelly (13 rushing touchdowns) and James Frusciante (33 receptions, nine TDs).

The Wreckers will need all of that offensive weaponry to click against Xavier (12-0), which has allowed only 96 points all season. “They’re a big team and they’re a tough team,’’ Heil said. “I’m impressed by just about everything.”

The extended football season has delayed Heil’s practice with the indoor track team. He’ll be away for a few more days until football season is officially over. “It’s kind of sad that the end of the season comes on Saturday,’’ Heil said. "I hope we are able to end it on a good note.”

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