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ROAD TO KICKOFF: Lambert's McCann eager for last chance
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Between football and lacrosse, Lambert senior Connor McCann has endured myriad injuries that have prevented him from really shining on the football field. If healthy, Longhorn coaches know McCann could become a game-changing player on defense. - photo by John McWilliams


Each Friday leading up to the first week of high school football, the Forsyth County News will highlight one player from each team who could be poised for a breakout season.

Previous installments of the series:

Pinecrest Academy: Michael Walters

Forsyth Central: Michael Branigan 

Connor McCann is weary.

He’s tired of watching from the sideline as his Lambert teammates take the football field and being left with nothing but an empty feeling and helplessness.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior defensive lineman/linebacker wants nothing more than to be 100 percent healthy, but he’s worried, and deep in his heart a little afraid, that this season will be like the last two — cut short due to an injury.

He suffered from "weight lifting shoulder" midway through his sophomore football season, causing the bone in his left shoulder to separate from the growth plate, which sidelined him for much of the year. The injury didn’t heal properly during the offseason and caused him to miss three games of his junior season before settling for shoulder surgery.

During the spring lacrosse season, McCann had another injury, this time a stress fracture to his left shin.

"I didn’t know [my shoulder] was injured as bad as I thought it was," McCann said. "I didn’t heal it right. I kept on playing through it because I thought it was just a little bump, but it ended up being my bone separated from my growth plate and it was grinding into my growth plate. That kept me from working out and everything for about three months.

"Then I came in junior year of lacrosse and hurt my shin. I’m trying and working with that with physical therapy right now as football season is going on."

Despite his injury-riddled junior football season, McCann tallied 22 total tackles, three sacks and two pass deflections. His breakout game came against Centennial on Oct. 12 when he racked up six tackles, including two sacks.

Lambert head coach Sid Maxwell is confident that if McCann can remain healthy, he can be a force on defense, a defense that has allowed a county-best 16.3 points per game since 2010.

"As far as athletic skills, Connor is the total package," Maxwell said. "[He] can run, cut, start and stop. The only thing he’s missing is a lot of football experience. He played for us last year for the first time and anytime you go out there it’s like a learning process. You can utilize your speed more if you know the direction you’re headed."

McCann thinks that with another year under his belt and familiarity with the system, he can live up to expectations on the field and become a leader on the defense.

"I hope [to be a breakout player]; the only thing I’m worried about is injuries," McCann said. "This is my senior year, coming in with all of my senior friends and making the best of the season and making it to playoffs because we were kind of an underdog last year, so we come in with a grave note.

"We played pretty well at camps. Our only problem is our offensive line on 7-on-7, but our defensive line is very solid."

Although McCann is committed to play lacrosse for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Div. I), he said he would accept a football scholarship "if it were a full-ride over $7,000."

Maxwell said he thinks McCann has what it takes to play football at the Division-I level if that’s what he chooses.

"A lot of times young men are trying to decide beyond high school what road to take and I think he sees the opportunities that he may have playing at another level. And this year will be a great indicator if that will be a possibility," Maxwell said. "I think he can be a D-I athlete. I think he has all the potential to do that. It’s just he’s going to have to make the plays."