MILFORD >> Foran standout quarterback Lance DiNatale and talented receiver Brett Huber are close friends off the field. That chemistry is apparent when the two suit up each game for the Lions.
“It’s relieving,” DiNatale said. “He can help me out a little bit with some of the decisions I make. It’s nice to have him on our side of the ball.”
DiNatale and Huber first played on the same team in middle school. The two have been inseparable ever since. Both participate in other sports at Foran — Huber plays basketball and baseball, while DiNatale is a member of the lacrosse team — but the duo manage to remain close even in the offseason.
“We’ve had that connection for awhile,” Huber said. “It’s been easy. When he’s your best friend, you can call him up and say let’s go to the field and work and get better. During the season, yeah of course, we talk all the time. It’s all week, because we’re preparing for that next team, and we’re always talking about what we see on film, what we can use to get that team on Friday.”
Entering this season, the Lions graduated leading rusher R.J. Balado, a key receiver in Colin Firmender and the bulk of the offensive line. So, Foran coach Jeff Bevino knew that DiNatale and Huber would be the impetus of the offense.
“They knew each other well,” Bevino said. “And besides that, they’re two really good football players. Our system works for them, what we do works for them. Lance is just a high-percentage passer. He’s smart, and he knows exactly where to look.
“Brett is like Lance at quarterback but at receiver. He knows where the holes are, he studies film, he knows what he’s supposed to do. These kids work hard. They really, really do.”
Huber set an SCC single-season record with 88 catches for 1,538 yards. He caught 14 touchdown passes.
“Brett, he does a good job of getting open,” DiNatale said. “He’s always open. We’re spreading the wealth a little more this year, but he still does a great job of getting open. He’s fast, he’s quick, and he does a great job of finding the holes in the defense. He does a great job.”
As a junior, Huber also rushed for five touchdowns and passed for two more. Huber caught 18 passes in a 38-21 loss to North Haven on Sept. 23 this year.
“We move him around as best as we possibly can,” Bevino said. “We try to find ways to get him the ball. It’s my responsibility to make sure I find ways to get him the ball.”
DiNatale is in his second year as a starter. He threw for 2,707 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior. DiNatale played behind Jake Kasuba as a freshman and sophomore. Kasuba set an SCC record with 7,822 career passing yards, breaking the record of 6,721 yards previously set by another Foran quarterback, Jake White.
“Last year he impressed me more than anything in the world,” Bevino said about DiNatale. “I never expected him to follow up Kasuba with those kinds of numbers, and Kasuba following up Jake White. We’ve been very fortunate, but he (DiNatale) waited for his chance, and he worked and he learned. God forbid anything happened to Kasuba, Lance was ready to go. He just really worked his tail off to get going with that. He really, really did.”
DiNatale considered Kasuba his mentor.
“Kasuba taught me a ton,” DiNatale said. “I spent a lot of time with him freshman and sophomore year, I was with him 24/7. He did a great job of teaching it (the system) to me and now I’m just trying to carry on the tradition.”
DiNatale, Huber and the Lions (2-2) visit Hillhouse (3-1) Friday night at 7 in an SCC Division II contest at Bowen Field.
Hillhouse won 50-27 last season in a game in which DiNatale threw five interceptions.
“Of course, we’re always looking for redemption,” DiNatale said. “I didn’t have the best game against Hillhouse last year, but we all could’ve played better than we did last year against Hillhouse and we’re looking for that redemption.”