Sheehy Helps Marquette Make its Mark

After his team went 3-6 a season ago, Milwaukee Marquette defensive lineman and Wisconsin commit Conor Sheehy became one of the off-the-field leaders to help the program return to its winning ways. It was time well spent.

It was the program's fourth loss in its previous five games played, but Milwaukee Marquette defensive lineman Conor Sheehy had a different kind of feeling following this defeat.

The Hilltoppers were young last season, which was evident by their 3-6 record and losing five games by at least two scores. They still were fairly young after losing 31-8 on the road to Chicago Loyola Academy in week two of this season, but Sheehy felt that despite their youth, the fight his teammates showed would be able to lead to a better result in his senior season.

"The score didn't reflect it but I thought we gave them a pretty good run for their money," Sheehy recalled. "They are undefeated and number one in the state right now. A lot of guys on our team hadn't played very much, but just to see the guys around me make plays gave me confidence that I can lean on them and they can lean on me."

Sheehy's premonition turned out to be spot on. Beating Menomonee Falls, 35-7, last week in the season finale, the Hilltoppers clinched the outright Greater Metro conference championship, and added on to an impressive achievement for the in-state recruits committed to playing next season at Wisconsin.

Of the seven in-state commits in the Badgers' 2014 recruiting class, five are heading into tonight's first round of the WIAA playoffs as conference champions.

"You just have to have that confidence all throughout the season," said Sheehy. "Looking around at my teammates since day one, I always thought we had the potential to be a good football team. We all put in the work in the offseason with the weight room and guys being in the film room.

"It was a lot of fun to see my teammates step up to the challenge, especially after having a down year last year. It was important for us to show people that Marquette football isn't going anywhere. We did win the conference, but people don't come to Marquette High to win conference championships. We want to do a lot more than that."

The improvement by his teammates has allowed Sheehy to have a more central focus. Playing a variety of positions on both sides of the football last season, the 6-4, 275-pound Sheehy has split his time this year between defensive tackle and defensive end and only dabbled in some offensive goal line situations in the backfield.

As a result, Sheehy has put up 76 tackles and a team-best 16 tackles for loss, and is better equipped to handle the responsibilities of his position.

"I've really improved my technique to handle double teams better," said Sheehy. "I've always been good at double teams on run, but I think getting double teamed on pass rush was something that I needed to work on. I think I have definitely gotten better at that this year."

Sheehy is one of four four-star in-state players committed to Wisconsin's 2014 recruiting class. But while Craig Evans, Jaden Gault and George Panos continue to get scholarship offers or take recruiting visits, Sheehy – ranked the No.28 defensive end in the country by Fox Sports Next – hasn't picked up new offers and has 100 percent shutdown his recruiting process since the spring.

"I still get letters and all that stuff, but I just maintain my contact with Wisconsin," said Sheehy, who picked Wisconsin over Michigan Sept. 5, 2012. "I keep my head down, looking forward to finishing out this year and then getting over to Wisconsin to see if I can make an impact."

One of the main reasons Sheehy hasn't looked around is because he's develop a strong relationship with head coach Gary Andersen and defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a since meeting them in the spring.

"I was at the Purdue game and talked to them a little bit, and it's just nice to see them start to get a little more comfortable at Wisconsin," said Sheehy. "They are really starting to come into their own. You're really starting to see the defense play well and that's something that's really exciting to see."

Sheehy said he can play nose tackle, defensive end or an outside linebacker role for Wisconsin in the 3-4 defense, but believes he'll start out at tackle.

Milwaukee Marquette hosts Milwaukee Riverside (3-6) in the first round of the division 1 state playoffs.

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