Derby High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Class of 2015

Class of 2015 Hall of Fame Dinner April 2, 2016

Congratulations to all of the members of the first class of Derby High School Athletic Hall of Fame inductees. (Click here for more pictures.) In addition to the Hall of Fame members, the Committee also presented Bill Pucci with the first Community Service Award.

Hall of Famers were also honored at the 2015 Thanksgiving Day Game

Watch the video here.

The Derby-Shelton Football game saw the recognition of the initial class in the Derby High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The members were introduced and presented with Hall of Fame jackets during a half time presentation.

Two of the members of the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame are also members of the Derby Hall of Fame.

Here is the complete inaugural class:

John Pagliaro '74

 Records are meant to be broken, so they say. Before that can happen, though, they have to be set. John Pagliaro set several key rushing records during his time at DHS.

In leading the Red Raiders to back-to-back undefeated seasons, the man known as "Leroy" set season marks for rushing yards (1047 in '73) and TD's (26, also in '73). His career numbers in each category were also tops in school history.

Pagliaro capped his high school football career and All-State season with a 5-TD performance versus Thanksgiving arch-rival Shelton, earning Silver Turkey honors in the rout.

As if his resume weren't impressive enough, John also starred in track. Just like in football, Pagliaro was a record holder in the 100 meters. His time of 9.9 seconds is still the Derby standard.

The accolades didn't stop there. During his distinguished collegiate career, Pagliaro starred for the Yale Bulldogs, earning All-Ivy honors junior and senior year. He also garnered All-American status in 1977, prompting his hometown Red Raiders to retire his #44.

Though some of the records did get broken over the years, the legend of John Pagliaro is alive and well in the hearts and minds of Derby fans everywhere.


Lou DeFilippo

1968 - 1982

Although Coach Lou is the only member of the inaugural HOF class who is not a Derby alum, his contributions to the school's football legacy are unparalleled by anyone before or since.

As a star lineman at Hillhouse, Captain Lou led the Academics to the '32 State title. His dominant play earned him a spot in the Hillhouse HOF.

From there, Lou embarked on a successful career at Fordham, where he was named to the All-American squad of 1940. That same season, the Rams earned a berth in the 1941 Cotton Bowl, losing a 13-12 heartbreaker to Texas A&M despite the efforts of MVP DeFilippo.

It was on to the NFL's New York Giants for Big Lou. After returning from naval service during the war, he and the Giants competed in the 1946 NFL title game as Eastern Conference champions.

Coaching came natural to DeFilippo. He began his career on the sidelines in New York, enjoying great success at East Meadow HS, winning 3 conference titles in 7 seasons.

When both Derby and Shelton had vacancies going into the '68 season, none other than Vince Lombardi recommended Lou for both jobs. Luckily for us, the Red Raiders prevailed first off the field, and then on it for many years to come.

Derby, which had been undefeated in 1967, continued its dominance with DeFilippo at the helm. His first two Red Raider teams also went unbeaten, securing the 1969 State title. Many still regard that '69 edition as one of the greatest teams in CT high school history.

All told, Lou's teams won nine Housy titles and two State crowns, going undefeated five times over the course of his 15 year career.
His 116-30-8 (.779) overall record stands as one of the finest in Derby history.

In 1997, the football field at the Ryan Athletic Complex was renamed Lou DeFilippo Field, yet another testament to his greatness.

In addition to the Hillhouse HOF, the Fordham HOF and the CT High School Coaches HOF, we are elated to welcome Coach Lou DeFilippo to the inaugural class of the DHS Athletics HOF.

DeFilippo is also a member of the City of Derby Hall of Fame. Click here to learn more.

Walt "Buster" Jadach '67

(Wrestling coach '80-present;
Track '93-'97)

When one earns the nickname Buster from his own mother, you have to figure he was a somewhat energetic child, to say the least.

Young Buster Jadach learned to channel that energy constructively, eventually earning All-Housy honors in football his senior year.

That same restless spirit led him toward coaching. When Derby initiated its wrestling program in the mid-70's, Buster volunteered as an assistant under head coach Jim Matthews, himself a successful high school wrestler. Under Matthews, Buster honed his craft, paid his dues and after a few years, took over the program.

In 35 years so far, Jadach's teams have enjoyed 33 winning seasons, earning a state record 586 victories along the way. The Red Raiders have won 4 Class S titles and been runners-up another 4 times. They have also been SCC champs on 4 occasions.

With his guidance, individual honors for Derby wrestlers have included:
- 40 Class S titles and 189 medals
- 6 State Open titles and 24 medals
- 1 New England title and 3 medals

Additional accolades bestowed upon Buster include:
- 4x Class S Coach of the Year
- 1999 State Coach of the Year
- 2007 National Coach of the Year finalist
- 2010 National Wrestling Hall of Fame

All that energy...all that drive and determination. It's enough to make a mother - and a community - proud.


George Budzinak '66

 Whether on offense or defense, hardly a ball hit the ground while George Budzinak patrolled the field.

As a two-time All-State performer and three-year starter, George made a habit of either catching passes for his own team or picking off the pass attempts of his opponent.

Many of those receptions went the distance, too. Budzinak took 20 to the house during a record-breaking career with Big Red. His 68 points receiving in the '65 season and 128 for his career have stood the test of time.

Equally impressive are his defensive exploits. Twelve interceptions in a single season ('63) and 18 overall were both tops in school history.
With guys like George Budzinak raising the bar on both sides of the ball, it's no wonder the mid-60's saw Derby football put itself back on the map.

Football was only part of George's story, however. He was also a multi-year starter in baseball, basketball and track, often utilizing off-days in one sport to compete in another. One time, he reportedly left a baseball game between innings to run the 100-yard dash (in his baseball uniform) and then returned to the diamond for the remainder of the contest.

Many referred to George as The Natural because of his knack to excel at whatever athletic endeavor he pursued. In that regard, it only seemed natural to include him in our first-ever HOF class. Thanks for the memories, George. You certainly helped create plenty.


 Vin Greco '70

Arguably the best overall athlete in Derby history, Vin Greco was not only a superior individual talent, but also the cornerstone of some of the best teams to don the red-and-white.

Best known for his exploits on the gridiron, Greco was a 3-year starter from '67 to '69 and a big reason why the Red Raiders didn't lose a single game during that stretch.
The '69 team was the first in school history to be voted #1 in the State (NH Register poll) and is often mentioned as one of the best ever.

As the anchor of what is still considered the best high school offensive line in CT, Vin earned All-State honors twice and was named the All-Time Best Center by the NH Register.

On the diamond, Greco excelled as a 4-year starter at first base. He also earned All-Valley basketball honors 3 times, leading the team to 2 tournament victories in 1970.

Vin Greco's accomplishments were not limited to high school. He went on to Wake Forest and was a star lineman for the Demon if that's a surprise to anyone who ever saw him play.

Leo F. "Nuggy" Ryan '22

(multi-sport coach 1926-50)

An article written about Leo Ryan at the end of his coaching career described him as a "developer of champions."

The Founding Father of the winning tradition at DHS was exactly that. His baseball, basketball and football teams were regularly among the best in both the Housatonic League and the State.

From 1926 through 1950, nearly every graduating class celebrated at least one league title in football (1928, '32, '36, '37, '40 and '46)...a quarter century of excellence. Read the incredible story of the 1937 team here.

The '37 squad consisted of 11 players, meaning everybody played every minute. Through it all, they managed to go undefeated (6-0-2) and were declared State Champs (a second title came in 1940). They capped off their amazing campaign with a post-season game in Florida.

That year's basketball team (1937-38) became known as the Moxie Gang, clearly a reflection of the grit and inspired play they demonstrated on the court. Ryan's Raiders were often outmanned and outsized, but never out-hustled. The Moxie Gang advanced to the State semi-finals before succumbing to the eventual New England Champs Manchester.

Each of his teams in all 3 sports (football, basketball and baseball) excelled beyond expectations thanks to their leader's intense will to win. It is only fitting that the Derby athletic complex bears the name of Leo F. Ryan, "developer of champions."

Leo F. Ryan is also a member of the City of Derby Hall of Fame. Read more here.

Bob Orchano '82

After starting as a junior, Bob Orchano came into his senior campaign with plenty of confidence, and rightfully so. His Red Raider squad was poised to challenge for another Housy banner, yet knew that doing so would not be easy.
What they didn't know was that Orchano was about to embark on a season for the ages.
Among his astounding feats that year, "Orch" set school records for rushing yards in a single game (218) and for a season (1,191), despite only playing in 9 games. He also graduated with the DHS record for most career rushing yards.
As if that weren't impressive enough, add to the mix his 5 TD performance in a 43-0 rout of Valley rival Seymour, his Silver Turkey Award-winning performance versus Shelton, and his 20 TDs (he scored at least one in each game he played that year) and you have the makings of an MVP season.
That's right! In addition to earning All Housy and All State honors, Bob Orchano was voted the #1 football player in Connecticut for 1981. Nobody did it better.

2008 story on this website.

Mike Marcucio '97

As a volunteer firefighter for his hometown, Mike Marcucio was often rushing to the scene of an emergency. Upon arrival, he was part of a team united against a common enemy.

Although wrestling, like fighting fires, is a team sport, each match is a solitary endeavor. Your buddies can cheer you on, but they can't help you battle the blaze.

Not that Marcucio needed the the height of his career at DHS, his win steak exceeded 60 matches, including a 44-0 mark his junior year. That same season saw him earn the title of New England champion.

Other accolades included: 2 State Open titles and New Haven Register All-Area honors in '95, '96 and '97 - the final two of which he was also named State MVP.
All told, Mike came out on top 145 times during his 4-year career, an average of 36 wins per season. He continued his winning ways at Trinity, earning All-New England honors in '98, '99 and '00. Overall, he finished in the Top 3 in school history in wins, win percentage and pins.

A favorite move of many wrestlers is the Fireman's Carry because of its tendency to render the opponent helpless. One can't help but wonder how often Fireman Mike extinguished a challenge with just such a move.

Thank you for your service, Mike Marcucio. Derby is a better place because of people like you.

1997 NY Daily News?MSG Athlete of the month article

Tony Passander '66

It's only fitting that a seasoned field general would wind up at the Citadel and continue to shine at the collegiate level.

As a 3-year starter at QB for the Red Raiders, Passander led Derby's transition from mediocrity to excellence under fledgling head coach Ron Carbone. As a senior in 1965, the eventual Albarella Trophy winner garnered 1st Team All-State honors, to date the only Derby signal-caller to earn that distinction.

Tony was also a standout in basketball and excelled at shortstop on the baseball diamond at DHS.

After graduating from the Citadel, Passander won a Grey Cup with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes (1970) before hanging them up for good.

No matter where his athletic endeavors may have taken him over the years - from the Deep South to the Great White North - Tony Passander has remained a Red Raider at heart. Welcome Home!

Diane Potkay, '96

"Anything you can do, I can do better." One can't help but wonder if that was the mantra of Diane Potkay growing up. After all, both of her older brothers were Albarella Trophy winners (Derby's most prestigious football award). So, what did young Diane go and do to top that? Just have her uniform retired and hung in the main trophy case at DHS, that's all!

The summer before ninth grade, Diane's illustrious track and field career got a giant head start at the Nutmeg Games, an annual statewide event here in Connecticut. Performing against older, more experienced competition, Potkay went on to win gold in both the discus and the shot put, setting the stage for what would become one of the storied careers in state history.

Once the decision was made to focus on track, the sky was the limit. Diane went on to win the State Open in the shot put all four years and was the Open champ in the discus each of the 3 years she competed in that event.

As if that weren't enough, she was also tops in New England (discus junior year and shot put senior year), setting several meet records along the way - some of which still stand.

Diane took her talents to the Ivy League and excelled at Yale, continuing there what she started all those years before in the Small City With A Big Heart. Go Big Red! Go Diane! Anything we can do, you can do better.

Read some comments that Diane made for one of Derby's All Class Reunions

Bill Pucci Service Award


Story originally posted on February 1, 2015
Last update September 5, 2016

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