Brett Huber reflects on record-setting season
Wide receiver Brett Huber lined up to the right of quarterback Lance DiNatale. He ran six yards downfield before cutting back on a slight inward angle to his left. DiNatale put the ball right where it belonged, in front of Huber who used his body as a shield to keep Law's Joe Mumford from touching it.
The catch, the 103rd in his senior season, gave Huber the state record previously held by New Canaan's Pete Demmerle (1970). Demmerle went on to star at Notre Dame and eventually signed a pro contract with the New England Patriots.
The play came with a little under three minutes to go in the first quarter during Foran's traditional confrontation with Jonathan Law on Thanksgiving Day morning. Huber scored a pair of touchdowns in Foran's 43-21 win.
Ironically, Huber's pass receiving expertise was limited to four catches for 47 yards. His two TDs came via different routes. One was on a two-yard run; the other on a 66-yard interception return (one of two that he had in the game).
"Setting the record is special for me," Huber said. "The guy who held it was a great athlete. Obviously, being a player it means a lot to me. But this isn't just about me. It's also about our offensive line, which did such a good job of blocking for Lance all season long. And, it's also about Lance. If he doesn't throw the ball as well as he does, I would've never had a chance to catch as many passes as I did."
Huber's football career at Foran began more on the defensive side of the ball than on the offensive. He started as a defensive back as a sophomore and saw some plays on offense late in the season, finishing with 10 catches.
"Back then we had Pat Fitzgerald and Nick Weissauer," Huber said. "Pat made All-State and Nick was the one who really taught me about being a pass receiver. We worked out during the summer months."
And, of course, there's head coach Jeff Bevino, who in 10 seasons has brought drive and emotion to the program.
"He never stops studying the game," Huber said. "He'll be up until three a.m. sometimes watching film. He'll text you telling you about the next opponent's defensive alignments. What we should be looking for."
With 215 career catches, Huber briefly held the state record in that category before Notre Dame of West Haven’s Nico Ragaini broke his with 216.
"I know a little about him," Huber said. "We did scrimmage Notre Dame once and we talked a little about football."
Bevino places Huber right up there with the best that he's coached.
"Brett certainly isn't big (Huber is 5-10 and weighs 180 pounds)," Bevino said. “It's his heart and his desire to play football that make him much bigger than he really is. He's got great hands and an instinct for catching the ball. Add focus to that mix, and he's just an outstanding player."
Huber has his own theories about what makes a player a good pass receiver.
"Basically, it's about catching the ball," he said. "If you can catch just about every ball thrown to you, it's very hard for a coach not to play you. Work ethic comes into play as well."
Heading into last season, Huber and fellow pass catchers Zach Cleary and Jared Hubler, would show up every day at the school's field during the summer to work out with DiNatale.
"He throws a beautiful ball," Huber said about his quarterback. "It's hard. He puts plenty of zip on it. It helped so much to be there during the summer heading into the season."
Now that the football season and the record are behind him, Huber's focus is on basketball, where he will start at guard for the second season.
"We have a new coach (Ian Kirkpatrick) coming in so that's going to be interesting," he said. "It's funny because he was my seventh-grade gym teacher at East Shore Middle School. I'm really looking forward to the season."
Then Huber will face his final scholastic baseball season at Foran. Last year, the Lions won a key late-season game against Cheshire and made the Class L playoffs before losing in the first round to East Haven. Eight players graduated off of that team.
"Baseball will be a challenge for us," Huber said. "Our juniors and the three remaining seniors will have to step up."
College choices for Huber are still up in the air. He's been approached by several coaches on the Division II level.
"I'm still hoping that a Division one coach will come along," he said. "I like to think that I could play at a Division one school. It would be a great opportunity to learn even more about the game."
Huber would like to earn a degree in athletic training, but his future beyond college could very well be in fire fighting.
"I'm very interested in it," he said. "A friend of mine's father is a firefighter and so is my uncle (on his father's side)."
Still fresh on his mind though is the past football season. Foran finished with a 7-3 record and the No. 11 ranking in the Class M polls. Only eight make the playoffs.
"We started slowly and our opening game loss to Wilbur Cross hurt us," Huber said. "Actually, all three losses were games (the Lions were also beaten by Hillhouse and North Haven) that we might have been able to win."
Foran went into the Law game knowing that they had already been eliminated when New Fairfield won the night before.
"It really didn't matter," Huber said. "The Law game is so special. The hype all week (with a Pasta Dinner on Sunday and the Captain’s Breakfast on Wednesday morning) just leads you right into the game. They had a new coach and there was some talk that they'd give us a good game, which they did from the start. But we won and that's what mattered. In my four years at Foran, I've only played on one team (junior varsity) that lost to Law."