Spencer Lockwood, who has bruised and battered his way to a 3,000-yard rushing season and has Killingly playing for its first state championship since 1996, is the 2017 Gatorade State Player of the year, the organization announced Monday.
Lockwood, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior running back and linebacker, has run 306 times for 3,027 yards and 42 touchdowns — both tops in Connecticut this year. He has also caught a touchdown pass, made 66 tackles on defense and three interceptions (all in the Class M quarterfinal victory vs. Law).
“Spencer is just a special player,” Killingly head coach Chad Neal said. “His internal motivation, his work ethic and drive… I’ve never seen before as a coach. It’s just his preparation and mentality. He has that internal drive and motivation where he is the ultimate team player. He wants to win. And he’s just a special kid. He’s one of those kids you maybe get once-in-a-lifetime you have the opportunity to coach and, fortunately, I’m able to coach him.”
Killingly plays Barlow for the Class M championship Monday, 6:30 p.m. at New Britain’s Veterans’ Memorial Stadium.
“I know I have that confidence that my team is going to come out on top,” Lockwood said before the game. “Because we don’t want to let our town down, we don’t want to let our coaches down — because they work so hard — and we don’t want to let ourselves down because we put in so much work.”
A four-year varsity player, Lockwood has run for 7,206 yards and 86 touchdowns in his career. His total rushing yards is fourth all-time in Connecticut history, according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book. His 86 rushing touchdowns are the eighth-most all time, tied with Newington’s Nathan Pagan in 2007.
The award, now in it’s 33rd year, “recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field,” Gatorade said in a press release.
Lockwood has volunteered locally as an at-risk mentor for elementary school students, a food pantry and as a youth football coach. He has maintained a weighted 3.41 GPA in the classroom and is currently uncommitted to a college.
Lockwood ran for 536 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman, 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore, and 2,458 yards and 28 touchdowns as a junior. He has averaged 7.8 yards per carry in his career. He’s averaging 9.9 yards per carry as a senior.
Killingly reached as far as the state semifinals in 2015 and 2016 before finally breaking through to the state final this year.
The Redmen are playing for their first state title since 1996.