Versatile Knowlton A Top-notch Linebacker For Natick High

KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
November, 2019
Article Body: 

Aedan Knowlton personifies versatility and leadership on a variety of fronts.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Natick High senior competes in three sports — football, lacrosse and skiing — and he’s a captain in all three. A linebacker or tight end in football, he excels as a defender in lacrosse, and he’s ranked No. 2 on the Redhawks’ ski team. He’s been a Bay State Conference all-star twice in lacrosse and once as a skier.
The 17-year-old Knowlton not only is a leader in athletics, but that ability also extends to the classroom and other activities. Knowlton is a high-honor student (3.55 GPA) who also serves as co-president of the Ski and Outdoors Club, which schedules hikes and skiing and camping trips. A mentorship captain, he’s involved in advising, assisting, and counseling freshmen.
Knowlton likes all the sports he plays but when the fall rolls around, it’s football that captures his heart. “I love the team aspect of the game,’’ he emphasized. “Football promotes brotherhood. And, it’s a sport where there’s a game plan and you strive to adhere to that.’’
So far, Knowlton and his teammates have been very effective sticking to coach Mark Mortarelli’s structure and system. The Redhawks were 5-0 at Local Town Pages deadline and poised to make a playoff run later this month.
“Our short-term goals are to keep improving and to beat Framingham on Thanksgiving,’’ Knowlton said. “Long-term, our goals are to qualify for the playoffs, get to the Super Bowl and win it. Winning a Super Bowl is realistic because we’ve got talent, we’re competitive and we’re hungry after losing our last three games last year.’’
Knowlton’s personal objectives include a BSC all-star berth, an increase in tackles and added consistency in his play. The Winthrop native is in his third varsity grid campaign, having started at linebacker since he was a sophomore. Through the team’s first five games, he has 38 tackles, 3 tackles for losses and 4 sacks.
Adean is a terrific kid,’’ said Mortarelli. “The biggest compliment I can give him is to label him as ‘a throw-back football player.’ He’s very smart and very physical. A strong-side linebacker, he’s played exceptionally well this season. A natural leader, all the players respect him.’’
Teammates trust and respect Knowlton for his stellar play and also for his leadership style. His gridiron strengths include athleticism, a high football IQ, size, closing speed, field awareness and an instinctive nature. As a captain, he leads by example, he’s communicative and most importantly, he’s supportive.
Two major victories — against Needham (42-0) and Brockton (35-25) — are good examples of Knowlton’s football savvy. “The Needham game was memorable,’’ he said. “Coming off three straight losses last year, we were motivated and we all competed well. I had a sack and three tackles but I was consistent containing the opposing backs. Against Brockton, we rallied to win and I was fortunate to get a big sack when they were deep in our territory. I was pleased with my pursuit in that game.’’
Knowlton’s style at linebacker is both physical and technical. “Being physical helps me make plays and being technical helps me make plays at the right spot,’’ he noted. “The key to success in football is preparation and our coaching staff provides lots of details.’’
Knowlton is quick to credit Mortarelli for Natick’s success but he isn’t bashful to heap praise on others, especially when Natick’s other captains or its linebacking corps is mentioned.
“Coach Mortarelli is incredible,’’ Knowlton said. “He knows what it takes to win, he’s approachable and he’s an excellent motivator. He focuses on preparation but he also insists that his players focus on academics, too.’’
Natick’s other captains are all seniors and they include linemen Josh Atwood and Jakobi Holiday and safety Felix Ferrucci. “They’re extremely talented and they all work hard,’’ Knowlton noted. “They lead in a variety of ways and they’re all team-first players. Our linebackers are very team-oriented. We’re all brothers who have each other’s back and we work to make each other better.’’
Calling his parents (Julie and Scott) role models for their support and encouragement, Knowlton hasn’t settled on a college yet but the University of Vermont, New Hampshire, Merrimack or the University of Rhode Island head his list. “I plan on majoring in business,’’ he said. “And, I plan to play sports at the club level. However, varsity football and lacrosse are still a possibility.’’
Relying on a competitive philosophy that stresses reaching his potential and enjoying athletics, Knowlton firmly believes that “if those things are occurring, then winning will be the by-product.’’
A three-sport athlete, Knowlton embraces speed while skiing and he admires the way lacrosse enables him to react instinctively. And, he’ll be the first to attest that sports have helped him learn valuable life lessons.
“Time management is so important,’’ he emphasized. “You’ve got to be on time for practice and also manage your time effectively. Sports also have taught me to be a capable leader, how to overcome adversity and how to be resilient and flexible. Mental toughness is valuable and that helps when you’re trying to overcome losing.’’
A fan of former Patriots’ linebacker Tedy Bruschi because “he was fierce on the field and he’s a great person off the field,’’ Knowlton possesses all the attributes necessary to excel in football — he’s fearless, mentally and physically tough, trustworthy and strong at the point of attack. But, what makes him a rare breed is his versatility on so many fronts. He’s at the head of the class in athletics, academics and assisting others.
Aedan Knowlton is a dynamic ambassador for Natick High.