Congratulations to the
DHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2016
of 2016 were presented with Hall of Fame jackets at halftime of the Ansonia/Derby Game at
Ryan Field. The official induction ceremony was held at a banquet on
April 8, 2017 at Derby High School.
Click here for highlights of the banquet.
In addition to the Hall of Fame
inductees, this year's banquet will also honor Jim Mascolo with the Bill
Pucci Service Award.
The 1951 Boys Basketball State
Championship Team was also recognized as the first Special Team honoree.
Though recent years have been a struggle for Derby
basketball, as you will see throughout the night, there is a rich legacy
of outstanding individuals and teams down through the years. However,
only one Derby team has managed to win a state championship in
basketball, and that is the team being honored tonight. Derby’s 1951
State Class “B” state championship remains the pinnacle of Derby
In1950 the Raiders had reached the semi-finals of the tournament, losing
by a single point to Stonington in overtime after dethroning 1949 state
champs Sacred Heart. Several players were returning for the new season
which was to see Ed Coss taking over as head coach from legendary Nuggy
Ryan. The regular season in the powerful Housatonic was a strong test
and the team finished with an 11-7 record that included two losses to
highly regarded Shelton.
The Raiders opened tournament play with a 44-37 win over Wilcox Tech in
a play-in game that set up a rematch with a Shelton Team that was one of
the favorites to win the whole tournament. However, this time Derby
turned the tables with a tight 45-52 win as Mike Kiley’s basket and
Frank Pascuzzo’s foul shot broke a 42-42 tie and provided the margin of
victory. Over 2,000 people were on hand for the game at the Payne
That set the stage for a match with defending champion Stonington with
Derby avenging the previous year’s loss with a 51-42 win setting up a
title tilt with Sacred Heart at a sold out Payne Whitney gym at Yale.
Things were going smoothly for Derby and they looked as though they
would run Sacred Heart out of the gym as they raced out to a 29-9 lead.
It wasn’t going to be so easy! Sacred Heart cut it to 31-14 at the half
and by the end of the third quarter the lead was down to 34-32 as Bill
Duggan’s 3 points were the only ones Derby scored in the period. The
Hearts got as close as a point including 40-39 before Jack Kiley
produced the final points. There was no shot clock back then so Derby
“froze” the ball for the last 40 seconds. There was no parade to the
foul line either because the rules of the time allowed the fouled team
to waive the foul shots and keep the ball – and Derby did that three
times. Probably a good thing since they were 4 for 17 from the foul line
on the night!
The city was wild with excitement and the next day the high school was
dismissed early following a victory celebration and then given the next
day off as an additional reward! I don’t think that would happen today.
The newspaper in Branford summed up Derby’s exciting win with this
“Nothing went right for Derby in the late going except for their
fight. The difference between a champion and a near champ is heart, not
luck, and up in Red Raider town the students can rightfully look in a
trophy case and wink back at the shining silverpiece, knowing that it
has its right home…”
'65 (Football Coach 1983-92)
Taking over for a legend is never easy. Becoming a legend in
one's own right is near impossible. After a 5-5 campaign and
near mutiny in his rookie year at the helm, many were
wondering if Charlie DiCenso had what it took to right the
ship and steer the Red Raiders toward contention in the
rough-and-tumble Housatonic League.
It didn't take long to figure out that the answer to that
question was a resounding "Yes!" After going 8-2 in
1984, the Raiders went on to win ten games and their first
Class S title in '85, including a thrilling mid-season 7-6
win at Ansonia, the first win against the Chargers since
1975. Back-to-back playoff appearances and a league
championship the following year cemented Charlie as one of
the premier coaches in the state. Derby became a regular in
the Register Top Ten, year in and year out.
A sterling 9-1 record in 1987 was good enough for another
Housy League crown, as Big Red went unbeaten in league play.
That year they saved their best for last as they torched
Thanksgiving rival Shelton to secure Derby's first win
versus the Gaels in four years. Though the '88 squad fell
one game short of a Housy three-peat, their 7-0 start
propelled them to #3 in the state before finishing 8-2. The
highlight of that year was a bruising, gut-wrenching 10-7
victory over arch-rival Ansonia, avenging an embarrassing
freshman loss three years prior.
The best was yet to come, however. Two years later, the 1990
version of the Red Raiders started the season with a lot of
question marks. Several starters from the previous season
had graduated. An inexperienced senior class came into the
season wondering just how good they could be.
Even as their record approached 5-0, several skeptics
wondered how long it could last, especially with perennial
powerhouse Ansonia lurking around the corner. Many of their
victories were of the grind-it-out variety. This wasn't a
team that made a habit of blowing out its opponents. Week 6
versus the Chargers was no exception. It was a
back-and-forth affair the whole way, with Big Red holding on
for a hard-fought 19-15 victory.
Even at 10-0, it wasn't until late in their playoff game
that they resembled anything close to world beaters. After a
sluggish beginning, the offense came to life and scored 34
points in the second half to win going away. Coach DiCenso
and Company put the finishing touches on Derby's first 11-0
season, still the most wins in a season in school history.
After accumulating nearly 80 wins, multiple Housy and State
championships over a ten year span, the only question
remaining was, "Is Charlie DiCenso a Hall of Famer?" The
answer is a resounding "Yes!" Welcome aboard, Coach.
Phil Donofrio '58
Some guys are all business all the time, tough as nails right
from the get-go. Phil Donofrio is one of those guys. Growing
up in the 50's in a blue collar mill town like Derby, is it
Luckily for Phil, sports were also a big part of his life at an
early age. Many of the rough-and-tumble lessons he learned
in the heat of competition helped build him into the strong
young man who led Derby basketball to a position of
prominence in an era where great
players were few and far between.
As just the second (and, to date, the last) All-State
basketball player from Derby, Donofrio led the Red Raiders
in most offensive categories while guiding them to the
playoffs on multiple occasions. Despite his best efforts,
they fell one game short of state championship glory, but always gave it
their all. As team captain, Phil wouldn't have it any other
Donofrio also excelled at Quinnipiac, leading the Braves
with the same hard-nosed approach that served him so well at
DHS. By the time he graduated in 1962, Phil had scored over
1000 points, was a two-time tournament MVP and was named
captain his senior season, while leading the team with an
average of 15.5 points per game.
In 1977 he became the first men’s basketball player inducted
into the Quinnipiac Athletic Hall of Fame
Fittingly, he ended up in the hardware business - blue
collar and tough as nails...a Derby guy to his very core.
Bill Duggan '51
Championships are won long before the opening tip, and
certainly before a single point is scored. Likewise, leaders
are forged through countless hours of practice and
preparation (both mentally and physically), so that when the
time comes for them to shine, they step up and do so as if
they've been waiting their whole lives for the opportunity.
Team captain Bill Duggan had worked his way into a leadership
role on the 1951 Red Raiders basketball team. Like Leo Ryan
before him, Coach Ed Coss was a developer of champions. His
team was poised to make a deep playoff run on the strong and
steady shoulders of his leading man.
Of course, basketball, like any team sport, is anything but
a one-man show. Several key performers chipped in and did
their part along the way. Big Red featured a fairly balanced
scoring attack, which made it difficult for opponents to
defend. An early round test from Valley rival Shelton got
the team rolling. Despite having been blown out by the Gaels
in the regular season, Derby pulled together for a 45-42
victory. From there, it was a victory over Stonington in the
semis before facing Sacred Heart in the finals. Derby got
off to an early lead, even extending it to 20 at one point.
But Sacred Heart chipped away slowly but surely, until it
was down to a one-point game.
The championship came down to the final minutes, where the
leadership, hard work and preparation finally paid off.
Duggan earned MVP honors for his role at the forefront of
the Derby title run, still the only one in DHS basketball
As might be expected, Bill embarked on a successful
professional career as assistant and head coach at Derby
before becoming the long-time principal of Bradley School.
Some come by leadership more naturally than others, but when
you put in the time and pay your dues, you're ready to lead
the charge when your time comes. Nobody can ever accuse Bill
Duggan of not being ready.
Jim Keefe '59
Going the extra mile is the mark of a true champion.
Throughout his stellar career, Jim Keefe proved that he was
more than just a miler specialist. His accomplishments on
the track and on the road helped put distance between him
and all others who tried in vain to keep pace.
Although he played football, Jim was able to also compete in
the cross country championships during his senior season,
winning the Class M title and earning silver in the State
It was during track season that Keefe really excelled. He
won back-to-back Class M crowns in '58 and '59 with times of
4:35 and 4:33, respectively. Before him, it had been 20
years since a Derby runner had won gold in the mile.
His time of 4:25 in the 1959 State Open mile was not only
good enough for #2 overall, but was also the school record
for many years thereafter. During the indoor season, his
dominance included yet another State title his senior year.
In the college ranks, Jim continued his standout career at
Central Connecticut, winning championships and earning
All-American accolades at various distances (mile, 5K and
10K), making him one of the most versatile champions in
He was selected to the USA track and field team for 1963-64
and as a NCAA track and field All American for 1963-64. He
earned NCAA cross country All American status in 1963. Prior
to that he was the NAIA cross country national champion
1962. In 1964 he was the NCAA champion in both the 3 and 6
He capped his amazing run by representing America in
international competition in Moscow, Warsaw, Hanover and
London versus the likes of the Soviet Union, East Germany
and other world powers, cementing his legacy as a true giant
in his field. Had it not been for an injury, he most likely
would have qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for the
Olympics in Tokyo in 1964.
He was inducted into the Central Connecticut State
University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979, the very first
year that their hall was created.
As Jim rounds the corner and heads down the stretch, let's
all cheer him on as he breaks the tape once more and takes
his rightful place in the DHS Hall of Fame.
Ken Pereiras '71
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the
fight in the dog. At 5'6" and 110 pounds, Ken Pereiras
proved that size indeed does not matter when it comes to
dominating on the basketball court. His quick first step and
uncanny ability to penetrate the opposing defense more than
made up for anything he may have lacked in the height
Arguably the best basketball player to lace 'em up for the Red
Raiders, Kenny was the type of player
to fill the box score, leading the team in several
categories on any given night, while setting several school
records along the way - some of which still stand.
Pereiras was a scoring machine, including a 48-point
outburst against Shelton that is still the top single-game
performance in school history. His 574 points in a season
was also #1 on the Red Raider list. He became the first
Derby player to surpass the 1000-point plateau, and
graduated with the career scoring record (1,053 points).
Ken's scoring prowess became evident early on. He finished
his tenure at DHS with a streak of 52 consecutive starts and
a span of 60 consecutive games in which he scored. Just for
good measure, he is also the school's standard-bearer in
assists, with 12 in a single game, proving that he was
willing and able to set the table for others, as well.
After an undefeated junior college championship season at
Mattatuck, Ken went on to play at Western Connecticut.
In 2014, the Waterbury Republican America’s HoopZone
selected Ken as the Best male basketball player in Derby
Ken returned to Derby as the boys basketball coach
though he is probably better known today for his incredible
success as the Seymour softball coach where his record makes
him the Geno Aueriemma of girls sports in the Valley.
With a trophy case full of accolades to his credit, few have
ever stood taller on the basketball court than Ken Pereiras,
one of Derby's all-time greats.
Brent Sanford '70
On a team loaded with standout athletes, the one who stood out
the most (and, not just because of his height) may well have
been Brent Sanford, to date the only High School
All-American in Derby football history.
As a two-way starter on the legendary '69 edition of the Red
Raiders, Sanford was an opposing coach's nightmare. On
offense, he was impossible to defend, often a favorite
target of QB Bunny Baczek. As a defender, he routinely blew
up the backfield, even
On the hardwood, Sanford was just as dominant. He was
regularly a team leader in scoring, and was a beast on the
boards. His school record 32 rebounds is still the best ever
for a single game. When he set up shop in the low post,
opponents either gave way or ended up wishing they had. At
the other end of the court, if you dared come through the
lane, you did so at your own risk, because one thing's for
certain. When you went head to head with Brent Sanford, you
After graduation, Brent joined Derby teammate Frank Romano
at Maryland, where the two of them continued their sterling
gridiron careers, just as dominant as ever. Once a standout,
always a standout - and now, a Hall of Famer.
For over 50 years, the name Al Vitello was synonymous with
Derby High School athletics. From the time he first suited
up for the Red Raiders in the late 30's until his retirement
as athletic director in the late 80's, no one cast a bigger
shadow on the program than he did.
He was an outstanding student athlete at Derby High School
from 1937-1941. Mr. Vitello was a member of the football,
basketball, baseball, and track teams and was named Derby
High School’s Most Valuable Athlete in 1941. He captained
both the football and basketball teams. He played both ways
on the football team as a halfback and defensive
back/linebacker. His 1940 team was the Housatonic League
Champion and State Co-Champion. He was named as a member of
the Bridgeport Post All State Team.
He played guard on the basketball team for four years and
second base and shortstop on the baseball team. Though three
sport athletes are very rare today, Al Vitello was a
four-sport star! In those days a high school athlete could
participate in both baseball and track during the same
season and Vitello lent his speed to the track team for
Mr. Vitello served with distinction as a teacher at Derby
High School for over forty years (1951-1992) teaching
history and heading the Social Studies Department. He was
the head basketball coach from 1955 to 1965 and his teams
advanced to the state tournament five times including the
semi-finals in 1958. He was also the head baseball coach
from 1951 through 1954, and the 1952 team won the Derby’s
only Housatonic League Championship. He also served as an
assistant football coach from 1953 through 1955. He served
as AD from 1968-1988.
In 2011, the gym at Derby High was renamed in his honor.
Jim Mascolo '64
Bill Pucci Service Award
He came to Derby Pop Warner
in the early 80's and was named President in 1986 and
retired in. 2000. Shortly after the football equipment room
in the clubhouse was named after him.
He could often be found
driving around town recruiting kids and wasresponsible for
getting many of them off the street. Until his legs would no
longer let him, he could be seen on the sidelines of the
high school games lending a hand to the coaches and the
During his time as
President was responsible for getting several grants for
Derby Pop Warner to help fund the program. He kept the
registration far lower than any of the surrounding towns so
that it would be affordable for all. Often
offering discounted fees for those who could not afford it.
Not only was he President,
he was also the head coach of the midgets for most of his
time. He took such pride in making Derby Pop Warner the best
run program that was started in the late 60's. He paved the
way for all of the Presidents who followed him and the
program is still running strong today.
He was also a very active
member of Derby's Parks and Recreation Committee.
He never asked for praise
and never got paid a dime. He did it because of his love for
the kids of Derby. Many in Derby benefited from the
generosity and dedication of Big Jim. We will be forever
Story posted on May 19, 2016
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