Saturday, May 08, 2021

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Modehn Battles Back from Injury to Make H-K History


Senior running back Dalton Modehn missed a great deal of time with an injury this year, but still finished his H-K football career as the top rusher in team history. Photo courtesy of Nancy Modehn

Senior running back Dalton Modehn missed a great deal of time with an injury this year, but still finished his H-K football career as the top rusher in team history. (Photo courtesy of Nancy Modehn )

The 2019 season didn’t go exactly as planned for Dalton Modehn, who missed most of his senior year with the Haddam-Killingworth football team after enduring an early injury. While it was uncertain if Dalton would be able to return, the senior running back made it back to the field and put forth a historic performance for the Cougars. On Nov. 21, Dalton broke H-K records for rushing yards, touchdowns, and points in a game when the Cougars earned a 55-43 victory versus the Coventry-Windham Tech-Bolton-Lyman Memorial co-op squad.

After helping H-K make the Class S state final last year, Dalton suffered a broken left collarbone during the team’s second game this season, forcing him to miss the next five games. Dalton had broken that same collarbone while playing indoor football when he was in 8th grade.

“As a team, I thought that we’d do well this year. We had a good number of offensive linemen returning,” Dalton says. “From the beginning, I figured we could do as well as 8-2. Personally, I was looking for a big year, maybe even making All-State.”

Dalton’s injury occurred when H-K played North Branford on Sept. 21. Toward the end of the second quarter, Dalton busted off a 72-yard run and broke his collarbone after getting tackled near the sideline.

“I got hit hard and fell on my left shoulder” says Dalton. “I didn’t feel any pain right away, because my adrenaline was flowing.”

Dalton went to the hospital for X-rays and ultimately had surgery later that week. The doctors re-set the bone, attached two metal rods, and used nine screws to complete the procedure. After that, Dalton had to go physical therapy before he could begin training.

“I was so disappointed. Seriously, I thought that maybe it was over for me as a player,” Dalton says. “I didn’t know how long, if ever, that I would be back. I was scared. Really scared.”

Dalton got back on the gridiron for H-K’s game against Stafford-East Windsor-Somers on Nov. 15. He only had a couple carries and went in for one play as a cornerback on defense.

“We knew we had to go easy on him,” Head Coach Mike Baklik says. “Knowing that he had broken it before made us even more careful.”

One week later, Dalton was turned loose when the Cougars’ offense exploded in their win over Coventry-Windham Tech-Bolton-Lyman Memorial. Dalton ran for 404 yards, scored seven touchdowns, and totaled 44 points—all of which set school records.

Going into the game, Dalton felt confident that his team could exploit the opposition’s defense.

“Their coverage up the middle wasn’t good at all. We saw it on the game film,” Dalton says. “If the coaching staff wasn’t about to make any adjustments, we were going to run at them all night long.”

Despite the injury, Dalton still ran for 779 yards in limited time this year. He closed out his high school career as H-K’s all-time leading rusher with 2,891 yards and 34 touchdowns. All totaled, Dalton scored 38 TDs for the Cougars.

Coach Baklik says that one of Dalton’s greatest assets is his ability to battle after taking the initial hit.

“Dalton will get you that four or five extra yards,” says Baklik. “He’ll spin, drag tacklers, and always falls forward.”

While H-K struggled this season, Dalton fondly remembers the 2018 campaign. The Cougars posted a record of 11-2 and advanced to the Class S state championship game for the second time in team history last year. In addition to his contributions on the ground, Dalton also intercepted eight passes on defense.

“We had such a great season,” Dalton says. “All of us were close friends. I’ve been playing football since I was seven years old. Most of the guys have come right along with me. I remember times playing backyard football with all of them.”

Dalton will run track at H-K in the spring. He competes in sprints and the triple jump for the Cougars.

Dalton also does competitive power lifting. At 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds, he’s able to bench press more than 240 pounds. Dalton is looking to bulk up in order to continue his football career at the collegiate level.

“It’s all about pushing yourself,” says Dalton. “I used to lose weight to make the 126-pound class in wrestling. Now, I’m trying to gain as much as I can. I definitely want to play college football somewhere.”

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