Carmel has tackling machine in Lynde

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He doesn’t possess eye-popping size or blazing speed. But Carmel Catholic’s Connor Lynde is the proud owner of one amazing statistic.

During a game against Marist on Sept. 28, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior made a school-record 24 tackles from his outside linebacker spot.

“(The Redhawks) ran the ball and threw the ball my way a lot,” Lynde said. “I had to do a lot of running back and forth. I was lucky enough to get there 24 times.”

Those close to the situation know Lynde is being too modest.

“Connor was just doing his job,” said Corsairs coach Andy Bitto, whose club stood at 2-5 overall following Friday’s 31-24 overtime loss to Joliet Catholic. “He’s not flashy, yet I’ve never had a kid get 24 tackles in one game.”

The gravity of the accomplishment began to take shape during a film session on Sept. 29.

“We saw the film and noticed Connor made six tackles in a row,” senior defensive end Bill Dolan said. “We all said, ‘Let’s hope our stat guy got it right,’ because he had a ton of tackles.”

Added Bitto: “He has a low center of gravity. The key to tackling is not only running through the contact, but also getting your head, chest and torso to the proper side of the runner. You see great linebackers doing those things all the time.”

Form tackling has become second nature for Lynde.

“I’m not the biggest or fastest guy, so technique is everything for me,” Lynde said. “I have to get my head across the runner’s body, and I have to keep my feet moving. When I stop moving my feet, that’s when I miss tackles.”

The linebacker definitely brings a cerebral approach to the field.

”Connor is probably the smartest player I’ve ever played with,” Dolan, Lynde’s teammate for eight years, said. “He could probably run the entire defense by himself if he wanted to.”

Such a coach’s mentality hardly comes as a surprise, considering Lynde has spent most of his life learning from his father, Dennis Lynde. The elder Lynde spent more than 10 seasons as the head coach at St. Mary’s in Buffalo Grove.

“(Lynde has) been around the sport since he’s been out of the womb,” Dolan noted. “We used to call him ‘Coach Lynde’ in grade school. We’d say, ‘Thanks, Coach Connor.’ ”

As a student of the game, Lynde keeps a close eye on the top linebackers in the NFL. He attempts to pattern his style of play to closely mirror the work of Green Bay Packers star Clay Matthews.

“I love his tenacity, and the motor he has for the entire game,” Lynde said. “I’m a Packers fan, which is my biggest downfall in Chicago. My teammates rib me about it all the time.”

If Lynde ever needs a snappy reply, he needs to utter just one number: 24.

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