— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) November 14, 2015
Darien defensive end Mark Evanchick has been named the Gatorade Connecticut Football Player of the Year, it was announced Thursday. Evanchick is the first football player from Darien to be bestowed the honor.
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field. Evanchick is now a finalist for the National Football Player of the Year award announced in December.
The 6-foot, 238-pound senior has led the Blue Wave to a 10-0 record and a berth in the Class LL state semifinals against QB Jasen Rose and Southington on Monday. At the time of his selection, Evanchick had recorded 64 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 30 tackles for a loss, nine hurries and forced two fumbles.
Evanchick has made a state-record 63.5 sacks in his career, a record formerly held by NFL All-Pro Dwight Freeney of Bloomfield (60). Evanchick broke the record in Darien’s 27-0 victory over Staples in November.
“I’ve had a lot of great coaches a long the way and the defensive line I’ve played along with has done an outstanding job the last couple of years,” Evanchick said earlier this year. “Last year it was one of the best in Connecticut history and this year’s has really stepped up to play. It’s kind of reminiscent of last year’s for sure.
“But I wasn’t focused on [the record]. Coming into my senior year I wanted another chance to bring back a state championship here and an FCIAC championship again.”
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) December 3, 2015
Evanchick and Darien won their second-consecutive FCIAC championship in a 28-21 victory over New Canaan on Thanksgiving. Going up against New Canaan’s 6-foot-7 all-state tackle Lucas Niang, Evanchick had one sack. But it came as New Canaan was attempting to convert a fourth-and-long from its own territory late in the game.
“Mark Evanchick is one of the best defensive linemen I have seen in a long time,” Staples coach Marce Petroccio said via the press release. “He has an incredible combination of speed, strength and leverage that reminds me of J.J. Watt. He is almost impossible to block.”
Evanchick, who has maintained a 3.34 GPA at Darien, will attend the University of Pennsylvania where he will play lacrosse. He is an all-state lacrosse defenseman and is considered the best at that position in Connecticut.
He was the Connecticut High School Lacrosse Coaches Association’s Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and he has volunteered locally as part of a fundraising campaign to benefit diabetes research and as a youth football and lacrosse coach.