For years, Haverhill High School has seemed like a dead end for football players. Hillies rarely went on to play beyond Trinity Stadium, and colleges rarely looked to Haverhill when recruiting.
That has changed.
Under second-year head coach Tim O'Connor, the Hillies will have five seniors from this year's squad go on to play college football at the Division 3 level.
"I'm proud of all of our football players," said O'Connor. "But especially these five players who have decided to continue playing at the next level. It is a testament to the program that people are thinking about Haverhill beyond the high school level."
Taylor Sullivan and Aaron Moisan have committed to Plymouth State.
Will Haskell has committed to Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
Connor Tufts will be playing at Framingham State.
Ryan Filliger is headed to Worcester State.
Sullivan was one of the captains at Haverhill and played wide receiver and linebacker for the Hillies. Sullivan had 17 catches for 206 yards at receiver and was arguably the leader of the defense, with at least two interceptions, including one for a touchdown. He broke his leg in the penultimate game of the season against Dracut.
"Taylor is a very intense, hardworking player," said O'Connor. "He's been working hard to get back on the field since his devastating injury."
"Taylor runs very well and is active all over the field," said Paul Castonia, head coach at Plymouth State. "He seems like a guy who has a lot of energy on the field. He's always active and pursuing the ball."
"Plymouth State has a nice system of balancing school and football evenly," said Sullivan. "That aspect is very important to me."
Moisan, who played linebacker and fullback for the Hillies, will play linebacker for the Panthers. At 6-1, 245 pounds, Moisan was one of the most physical members of the Hillie defense.