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
Hall of Famers were also honored at
the 2015 Thanksgiving Day Game
Watch the video
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
Two of the members of the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame
are also members of the Derby Hall of
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
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.
DHS FOOTBALL COACH
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
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;
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
- 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
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
Deacons...as if that's a surprise to anyone who ever saw him
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
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
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
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 help...at 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
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
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
Story originally posted on February 1, 2015
Last update September 5, 2016
Derby Home page