St. Joseph's Brandon Hutchison still learning in his second year of football

TRUMBULL — It was at a baseball game, St. Joseph football coach Joe Della Vecchia remembered, when the kid who’d become this year’s standout wide receiver and punt returner told the coach he wanted to play football.

“His sophomore year, in the spring, I was at his baseball game, and he said ‘I want to play defensive back,’” Della Vecchia said, remembering the talk with Brandon Hutchison, who hadn’t played football before. “He was showing me all his backpedaling moves. I was just laughing: ‘You’re not gonna play football.’”

But when Hutchison says he’s going to do something, it seems, he does it.

It helped Hutchison that he comes from an athletic family, the fourth of four standout sporting kids of a pro baseball player.

It helped that the third of four was Brady Hutchison, who Della Vecchia puts in the top two receivers he’s ever known, who with two-time all-state receiver Jared Mallozzi worked with his brother all that summer.


And it sure didn’t hurt that the point guard and center fielder had the work ethic to turn himself into a receiver at the end of that COVID school year of 2020-21.

“My brother’s senior year got canceled,” Brandon Hutchison said this week as the Hogs, No. 6 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll, prepared for Friday night’s visit to No. 2 New Canaan. “I saw how sad he and his friends were. I thought maybe I’d try out.

“My mom didn’t want me to play. She wanted me to stick to basketball. But it was the best decision I ever made.”

Hutchison said he has always enjoyed trying different sports. And he’d thrown the football around in the backyard in Orange, so catching it wasn’t a foreign concept.

Last year, he caught 46 passes, seven for touchdowns. He has 28 catches for five touchdowns in six games this year for St. Joseph (5-1).

“One of the things that caught my eye – I think it was that same baseball game – he was pinch-running,” Della Vecchia said, “and he stole second, was on second base. There was a passed ball, and he came from second home. He wasn’t stopping. He just knew he was going to beat the play.

“That really impressed me, like, this kid’s got it. He’s got some savvy. He’s tough. He’s cocky. That really impressed me about him.”

Hutchison said the coaches helped him learn the playbook, and Della Vecchia said Hutchison is the kind of kid who wants to delve even deeper into it.

“He works on things like blocking,” the coach said. “He wants to know the direction the play’s going, what’s the design, so he can set up his block, or if he’s running a false route, he wants to know what route.”

Brady helped Brandon learn routes. He’s playing at Colgate this year. Brandon said he got to watch the Raiders play Army a couple of weekends ago. Brother Brett was on the basketball team last year at Binghamton but transferred to Western New England in the summer.

And sister Hannah, a softball and volleyball standout at St. Joseph, recently graduated from Auburn.

“I was in, like, fourth or fifth grade,” Brandon said, “coming and watching her play softball. She was a freshman on varsity. Everything around St. Joe’s: The lacrosse kids were playing. Baseball was on. There were great vibes at St. Joe’s. I think that set the tone for my family to come here.”

This year’s football team, though, wasn’t particularly hyped, especially for a program that has been to a CIAC semifinal in seven of the past eight seasons, winning a championship in five of them.

The season opener on Sept. 10 against Darien dragged scoreless deep into the second half when Hutchison produced one of the more memorable moments of the season. Chatting with reporters on the sideline about the low-event game, he told them, “I got you.”

“I was just messing with them,” he remembered, laughing. “You know what? Let’s make this fun. Let’s make this interesting. It’s been 0-0 all game. I can easily make a promise. Let’s see if I can come through with it.

A long fourth-quarter punt return and a post over the middle into the end zone later...

“I wish I pointed at the camera,” he said. “I was with the fans, the kids I went to school with. I was like, let’s go. We’re winning. I wanted to point to them.”

A second touchdown later, he was everywhere on #cthsfb Twitter before he’d taken his pads off. That 14-0 win sparked a 4-0 start before a loss to No. 4 Greenwich. The Hogs lead the Class L playoff standings with New Canaan close behind.

They hope there’s a long way to go until winter, but Hutchison plans to play basketball and baseball again and wants to play football in college. He’s figuring on a postgraduate year somewhere first.

Wherever he winds up, they’re going to get a speedy, if perhaps a little undersized, player who’s still learning but never makes the same mistake twice, Della Vecchia said. And they’ll get a leader.

“He’s got that personality where people gravitate to him wherever he goes. He’s open and friendly to everyone he meets,” Della Vecchia said.

“We had open house the other day and he was talking to everybody, about everything.”; @fornabaioctp