Caleb Gilligan-Evans- This Weeks Con Edison Scholar Athlete award winner
Posted Saturday, November 05, 2011 by Yaron Weitzman
/defensive tackle Caleb Gilligan-Evans was the only player whom Stepinac coach Mike O'Donnell felt was talented and mature enough to play on the varsity as a freshman — and O'Donnell has been coaching the team for 31 years.
"Caleb is one of those special kids," O'Donnell said. "He's a kid who takes both his scho-lastics and athletics very seriously ."
In the past four seasons, Gilligan-Evans — this week's Con Edison Athlete of the Week — has rewarded O'Donnell for his decision.
He's run for 3,207 yards and scored 40 touchdowns, all while leading the Crusaders to 33 wins and two CHSFL Division AAA championships, which included a perfect 12-0 last season. He's also been named to the all-county team twice and last season earned an all-state selection.
"He's a very good runner, and he's an even better blocker," O'Donnell said of his 6-foot, 250-pound fullback. "Caleb's a natural athlete who has worked really hard in the offseason and the weight room."
That hard work has also paid dividends away from the football field. Ivy League schools such as Yale, Harvard and Brown have begun to recruit the Yonkers native.
"The whole (recruiting ) process has been so enjoyable," Gilligan-Evans said. "And it's been interesting to see the different tactics that different schools use."
Gilligan-Evans was especially enamored of the hand-written recruiting letters that he received from some colleges. For a humble athlete, the realization that a coach would want him on his team that badly was an exciting one.
O'Donnell, however, is not surprised, and expects the only four-year player he's ever had to succeed at the next level.
"When Caleb puts his mind to something, he usually accomplishes it," said O'Donnell. "And, based on where he is athletically and scholastically, those are the types of schools he should be going to."
On Sunday, Gilligan-Evans will take the field for what could be the last playoffgame of his stellar high school career, as his No. 2 Crusaders take on No. 7 Holy Cross in the first round of the CHSFL playoffs. And no matter what the result, there's no doubt that the fullback/defensive tackle — who just four years ago was an intimidated freshman whose senior teammates would ask him if practice was past his bedtime — will leave a huge mark.
"There are so many reasons why we nominated him for the Con Ed award," O'Donnell said . "He's what this award is about."