Mark Upton had a record-breaking football career at St. Mark’s School in Southboro. He made 22 tackles in one game as a sophomore and had successive 100-tackle seasons in his junior and senior seasons.
The 6-feet-2-inch, 210-pound linebacker finished his career with 280 tackles and was the fifth leading scorer in the Independent School League (ISL) this season.
In his final appearance as a prep/high school player Saturday in the Shriners Football Classic at Bentley University in Waltham, Upton was selected the Most Valuable Defensive Player for the North team.
It won’t be his last game on the gridiron. An honor roll student who received the Daniel B. Fearing Athletic Prize as the school’s top male athlete, Upton will be continuing his football career for Bates College.
“I’m really excited to be going to Bates,” said Upton. “I love the school.”
A two-time All-ISL first team and All New England selection and two-time team MVP in football, Upton is also an outstanding ice hockey player, solid enough to be drafted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which is a training ground for aspiring National Hockey League players. He was a captain of the St. Mark’s football, hockey, and sailing teams.
“I came in to St. Mark’s as a hockey player and then I changed my focus to football going into my senior year,” said Upton.
There is no doubt that Upton would have been a major difference maker at Winthrop High in football and hockey, perhaps even lifting the programs to state titles. But Upton left the Winthrop school system in the seventh grade to enroll at Excel Academy Charter School.
“I had decided in the seventh or eighth grade that I wanted to attend a boarding school,” said Upton, who was a dormitory residence counselor at St. Mark’s. “I liked the idea of going to boarding school and felt it would be the best way to prepare myself for college. St. Mark’s has prepared me really well for college.”
Upton did a lot of his off-season training at RPM Fitness in Winthrop under the direction of Marie Hamilton, a noted trainer of prospective college athletes.
“Her program was really helpful – I followed it for three years,” said Upton. “She really helped me put on a lot of muscle and a lot of speed. It’s a really great program.”
The Shriners Classic was the perfect finale for Upton, who had several tackles in the game and knocked down a pass on his way to the MVP Award. He also received the Community Service Award for raising $2,500 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
“It was a really great honor to receive the MVP award,” said Upton. “There were a lot of great players on our defense. I was also honored to receive the Community Service Award, which is really what the Shriners is all about.”
Mark is the son of Larry and Lins Upton. His sister, Kristen, is a junior at St. Mark’s and served as the manager and photographer for the football team in addition to being a member of the girls hockey and sailing teams.
“It was fun having my sister involved in the football program,” said Upton. “I know the players really appreciated all the great photos she took at games.”
He said he is grateful to his parents for their support.
“They’ve done a great job, especially understanding that boarding school is definitely the way to be best prepared for college,” said Upton. “They sacrificed a lot, not seeing me every day and knowing that St. Mark’s was the best option for me. They came to all my games, even my Kimball-Union game in Vermont, and kept a close eye on what was going on.”