NVL Headache: Lytton bigger, faster and better
NVL Headache: Lytton bigger, faster and better
TORRINGTON – On the surface, who has it tougher than Torrington High’s Brenden Lytton this season?
What do you for an encore after a junior-year performance that was as good as any in Connecticut and in a three month span moved the rugged, fleet-footed running back from a non-starter on offense on to the recruitment radar of BCS-Bowl eligible teams like Boston College and UConn?
Lytton’s numbers were off the charts a year ago – 2,360 yards rushing with 29 touchdowns, with a state record nine-TD explosion against Wilby in a game where he rolled up 332 yards on 42 carries. There were repeated 200 and 300-yard nights. All-NVL and All-State honors along with an appearance on Channel 3’s Friday Night Lights show.
How do you top all of that or even match it? In Lytton’s world, you don’t worry about it much.
“There’s a little bit of pressure, but really not that much,” said Lytton. “I’m just going to do as well as I can and hopefully help us win a state championship. My goal is just to improve. When it comes down to it I’m just trying to win. I don’t worry about myself.”
Nor does he have to says Torrington coach Dan Dunaj.
“ I don’t think Brenden has to do what he did last year,” said Dunaj. “With our passing game improved he doesn’t have to be Mr. Clutch 100 percent of the time. Last year Brendan was our best skill player and carried the ball 35-40 times a game. This year with (QB) Jason Abbott and other skill players coming along it will take some of the pressure off of him.”
While Lytton won’t be burdened by the need to duplicate or better his season of a year ago, Torrington’s opponents are clearly feeling the pressure. They remember and for many teams what they remember about the 5-foot-10, 186 lb. running machine produces a nauseating feeling.
Sacred Heart was stung by a 246-yard, three TD highlight reel. Kennedy was on the wrong end of a 237-yard, two TD performance. On Thanksgiving Day against Watertown, Lytton ran up and down the field for 242 yards and a pair of scores.
The pressure is on the opposition and Lytton and Torrington are prepared for it. There is no secret who the opposition is geared up for. The idea for the Raiders is to vary the attack. Abbot is in his second year and should be more accurate with the passing game,
As for Lytton. He hardly rested on his laurels traveling the banquet circuit in the off-season. Instead he was in the gym.
“Brendan had an outstanding off-season,” Dunaj said with more a bit of respect. “He is a leader. We started conditioning Dec. 4 and he did a great job of getting in better shape. There was no complacency on his part.
Opponents will not appreciate this. They will respect it, but not look forward to it. Lytton cut his time in the 40-yard dash from 4.5 to 4.4, quick to quicker. His bench press jumped from about 215 lbs. to 235-240 lbs., strong to stronger.
Then there is the versatility factor. He can catch the ball, he plays safety on defense. He kicks. He is a threat during every minute of the game, you don’t escape Brendan Lytton. After his dominance of a year ago, this is not a thought bringing smiles to the rest of the NVL.
“I’m a senior and I’m bigger, faster and stronger,” says Lytton. “I think I’m a versatile back, I can catch the ball and as a safety I see things on the field and I see tackles and make them. I’m all over because of my speed.’
Lytton also has a bit of extra incentive going into this season based on his record-setting nine-TD effort against Wilby. The aftermath of a game that put a stamp on one of the great seasons in THS football history and produced a spot in the state record book also fired up the normally soft-spoken back.
‘Everybody says it was a fluke,” Lytton said. “A lot of kids (around the NVL) were saying that I can’t do it again. I hear it from everybody. I know I can do it. When I get the ball with my speed and the way I run, everything clicks.”
Lytton doesn’t care what his role is the season. He’ll take the ball 70 times if he as to and Dunaj will tell you if he has to give the ball to him 50 times (70 might be overdoing it) he will. Dunaj is looking for some more balance, however, and Lytton just wants to play.
Beyond, college awaits although where is anybody’s guess at his point. While UConn and B.C. have shown interest, (B.C. has him ranked as their No. 5 back), they admit the interest is soft. Temple might be in the picture.
Before that there is one more season to go. Don’t worry about Brendan Lytton. The pressure belongs to the guys on the other side of the ball. With a punishing stiff-arm, slashing speed and strength to run over people, last year may have been just an eye-opening beginning.
There are some queasy stomachs around the NVL and well there should be.