By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Sherborn and Medfield native Connor Peck was recently named one of the four captains for Bentley University football alongside Foxborough’s Mack Lowrie, Waltham’s Junior Chery, and Pawtucket, RI’s Martin Bannerman.
After playing Pop Warner for Holliston throughout his upbringing, Peck played offensive guard at Catholic Memorial from 2010-2014 and was a two-year captain during his junior and senior seasons.
Peck credited his competitive upbringing with Holliston Pop Warner as well as his days spent alongside future Division I stars such as Armani Reeves (Ohio State), Cam Williams (North Carolina), and A.J. Doyle (UMass) at CM as significant factors which inevitably led him to Bentley.
“I started playing Pop Warner in Holliston around the fourth grade,” said Peck. “Those days at Stoddard Park are when I fell in love with football. Holliston prepared me for CM, and CM prepared me for Bentley. My sophomore year at CM is when I began starting on the offensive and defensive lines and I really grew fond of one of my assistant coaches, Brent Williams [now head coach at CM]. Coach Williams believed in me and knew what I was capable of and helped me out immensely for my underclassmen years at CM. I also had great role models too like A.J. Doyle, Cam Williams, and Armani Reeves, who all went on to play college ball and competed at the highest of levels. I tried to act like them and be that type of leader for the guys underneath me.”
After twice winning second-team All-State honors, twice winning Best Lineman Award, twice becoming a Catholic Conference All-Star, and being named the Catholic Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Year following his senior season in 2013, Peck made the decision to attend Bentley University on a football scholarship.
But, there was a catch. Peck would have to convert to center from guard.
Peck described the process of making the transition to center from guard as difficult, but also says that lots of hard work and studying as well as the edition of a new offensive line coach in 2017 will allow him to take the next step in his development.
“At first, it was difficult, especially because the center is really the quarterback of the offensive line and I had to work to implement snapping the ball into my step progression,” said Peck. “Now, it has become second nature and it has allowed me to recognize what every player on the offensive line is doing. We have a new offensive line coach this year, Bill Samko, who is doing a great job of helping all of us get better every day. He has been around the game of football his entire life and knows the ins and outs of every defense we go against. He is the guy who I know will help me reach that elite level.”
Despite the positional adjustment, the former Knight enters the 2017 season as Bentley’s most experienced offensive lineman with 28 games under his belt - 17 as a starter (once as a freshman, eight in each of the previous two seasons) - and recently drew praise from his head coach Bill Kavanaugh.
“Connor has anchored our offensive line each of the past two seasons,” said Kavanaugh.
A humbled Peck says that being named one of the four Bentley captains is a dream come true, and that he looks forward to leading this group of Falcons into battle.
“Being a captain at Bentley is something I really never thought would have happened coming in as a freshman,” said Peck. “Initially, all I wanted to do was play, so I really worked as hard as I could learning the ins and outs of the playbook to find my way onto the field. Now, as a rising senior, it is such an honor getting the trust of my teammates and the fact that the guys look at me when things aren’t going the right way for leadership and to make the right decision is what really makes it special. I try my best every day to get better at it, too. There is no such thing as a perfect football player or teammate, and it takes a lot of work and effort to earn the trust of your teammates. So, that is what I am striving for and why it is such an honor to be named a captain. Hard work pays off.”
An economics and finance major, Peck will help pave the way for fifth-year running back and fellow captain Martin Bannerman, who’s accumulated 1,431 yards and 14 touchdowns throughout his collegiate career. Bannerman played in just three games last season due to injury and is 209 yards shy of 2,000 all-purpose yards for his Bentley career.
The strong relationship that has already been established between Peck and quarterback Mack Lowrie will also serve as a crucial piece to the Bentley offense in 2017. Lowrie, a Roxbury Latin graduate and fifth-year transfer from Boston College and URI, started five games under center for Bentley in 2016, throwing for 786 yards and eight touchdowns.
Peck says that he and his teammates are expecting big things this season.
“My expectations for this season are set extremely high. We have a lot of returning guys on the offense and the defense is strong as always,” said Peck. “We all have common goals on this team and we are going to grind every day to reach them. I’m expecting great things from us this year. All we have to do is get our individual jobs done every day and everything else will play out.”
With a returning starter and captain at both quarterback and running back, a senior captain anchoring the offensive line in Connor Peck, and a standout defensive back in Junior Chery leading the defense, the leadership Bentley is bringing back in 2017 will surely allow the Falcons to improve upon three straight 5-6 seasons in 2017. Bentley will kick off the season on August 31 at West Chester University (Pennsylvania).
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.