Congratulations to the
DHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2018
New members at the induction banquet on April 28,2019
for an earlier video of the introduction of the Class of 2018
Paul "Itch" Grant
Bill Pucci Service Award
Bev’s service to Derby began in 1962 when herself and Red Clynch
co-founded the Derby girls recreation basketball and softball programs.
She played a tremendous role in helping derby establish girls sports
programs at the high school. In 1975 she started coaching the girls
middle school basketball team. She would continue doing that until 1979 when she took her coaching to the next level, becoming the
Derby girls high school basketball
coach. Bev would stay on as coach for 6 seasons. After leaving coaching
for 2 years, she returned in 1986, this time as Platt Tech’s girls
basketball coach. Bev enjoyed great success with both programs and after
being away from coaching for several years she made a return in 2004
to coach the St. Mary-St. Michael’s girls team finishing up her
coaching career in 2008
in the town of Derby and Derby girls sports can never be taken for
granted. She had a lot to do with Dawn Sengstaken, Eileen Duggan and
Heather beauton becoming great athletes and eventually hall of
famers. The Derby Athletic Hall of Fame could not be any prouder
then we are to be able to honor Bev with this year’s Bill Pucci
Ben Bartone '92
Any coach you ask will tell you there’s always one player
that he or she wants to take the ball when it matters most.
Whether it’s the last shot, the final out or the go-ahead
touchdown, if the game’s on the line, everybody knows whose
number is getting called. In the early 90’s, more often than
not, that number belonged to Ben Bartone.
A three-year starter in three sports,
Ben had a knack for coming up big at the right time. As a
standout defensive back, he finished his stellar football
career with 10 interceptions, including 3 in the 1990 State
Championship game. Had it not been for a season-ending
injury senior year, he may have challenged the school record
of 18. During the 11-0 title season, Bartone filled in for
injured QB Joe Martin for a couple of games, and kept the
streak alive with some inspired play under center. Taking
over as quarterback his senior year, he led the Raiders to a
3-1 start, but had to watch from the sidelines as the team
struggled down the stretch, winning only two more games the
rest of the way.
After making a full recovery, Ben was
ready to resume his role as one of the leaders of the
baseball team. Having been a starter since freshman year,
Bartone continued to improve each season, both as a hitter
and on the mound, earning All-State, All-Housy and multiple
All-Valley and All-Area honors. He finished his career with
19 mound victories, including 4 in the postseason. In the
1992 State Tournament, Ben notched three wins, the most
important of all coming in the title game as a reliever.
Other notable achievements include a school-record 18
strikeouts against North Haven, and back-to-back seasons
where he eclipsed the .400 mark at the plate.
He also excelled on the basketball
court for the Red Raiders, setting a record with six
3-pointers in a game against Valley rival Emmett O’Brien.
Whether on the gridiron, the hardwood or the diamond, when
Ben’s number was called, he came through when his team
needed him most, helping deliver two State Championships in
Though she played other sports in high school, Heather
Beauton is best known for her dominance as a pitcher for the
Derby softball team. Whether it was strikeouts, ERA, wins or
no-hitters, every aspect of Beauton’s game was top-notch.
As a junior, Heather won 19 games, and
struck out 179 batters, including 16 against East Haven. She
also hurled two no-hitters that year, one of which was a
perfect game versus Seymour. Among her State tournament
highlights was a sterling 14-inning performance, beating
Putnam on the way to the finals.
She followed that up with another
stellar senior season, winning 16 games along the way. Four
times that year, Heather struck out at least 12 batters in a
game, one of which was against Cromwell in the postseason.
In the quarterfinals that year, Beauton had a no-hitter
going into the final inning, before giving up two hits in a
gruelling 1-0 heartbreaker.
Heather was honored multiple times as
an All-State, All-Housy and All-Valley performer, and was
featured as MSG’s Player of the Week. She continued her
career success at the college level. At Fairfield, she
accumulated a 1.18 career ERA, the fourth-best in conference
history. Her 0.80 and 0.79 ERA’s in back-to-back seasons are
among the all-time best in the Fairfield softball annals.
Wherever Heather Beauton toed the rubber, dominance seemed
John DeFrancisco '64
(Head Baseball Coach 1987-96)
As the son of long-time Derby baseball
coach Tony DeFrancisco, it seemed like a natural fit for
John to follow in Dad’s footsteps. “D” spent his early
coaching career as an assistant under Tom Fahy, winning the
1977 Class S Championship along the way, the first for the
Red Raiders in the modern tournament era.
When Fahy stepped down after the ‘86
season, D took the reins, and enjoyed a fantastic ten-year
run as head coach. Under John’s guidance, several Derby
players earned All-Housy, All-Area and All-State accolades.
The 1992 version of the Red Raiders finished the regular
season 12-8 before rattling off five straight in the
postseason to capture another State Title, the second of D’s
coaching career, and first as the head man.
Five times over the years, Coach D led
his teams to the tournament. The ‘96 squad, despite
finishing in the middle of the pack at 10-10, went on a
roll, peaking at the right time. With the perfect blend of
clutch pitching, and timely hitting, they brought home yet
another banner for Big Red.
When you couple two state championships as an assistant
football coach at the High School, John's five state titles
are the most in Derby history.
Following that ‘96 title run, D moved
on from coaching, having been around the game for over 40
years. He was able to create a championship legacy of his
very own - one that would make any father - whether coach or
spectator - incredibly proud.
Eileen Duggan '86
As one of five kids, it took a lot of effort to garner
attention in the Duggan household. As supportive and
close-knit as a family may be, keeping tabs on the exploits
of that many young ones is an unenviable task for any
parents. Eileen did her part, and then some, becoming a
multi-sport star at all levels.
At DHS, Eileen was a top performer on the softball diamond,
earning All-Valley, All-Housy and All-State honors both
junior and senior years. She was a superb hitter, batting
.500 for the 1985 State Champs, and followed that up with a
robust .429 the following year.
Duggan was also a leading force on the Derby girls
basketball team, averaging 14 points a game, making All-Housy
and All-Valley as a senior. She helped lead the Derby squad
to the Class S semi-finals, to date the best tourney run in
After graduation, Eileen went on to a distinguished college
softball career at Yale. She credits her success at Derby
for paving the way to the Ivy League. As a second-generation
Hall of Famer - the first in our school’s history - it is
safe to say that genetics and the support of a loving family
played an even bigger role in her success.
Paul "Itch" Grant '47
Often compared to Doc Blanchard of West Point fame, Itch
Grant was known as Derby’s “Mr. Inside,” one of the finest
fullbacks of his day. A punishing blocker, Grant was also a
threat to break one, making him one of the team leaders in
During his four-year varsity career, he brought the same
tenacious style to the other side of the ball, as well,
earning respect as a talented two-way star. Itch was part of
multiple All-Star squads, and was honored as an All-Valley
scholar-athlete, proving he was also a dedicated student.
As a speedy left fielder, Grant was one of the best
hitters in school history. His .455 batting average led the
team, and he supplied some pop, as well. A well-rounded
athlete, Paul also started two years for the basketball
team, bringing the same toughness to the court as he always
did to the field.
Itch’s gridiron success at DHS earned him a full ride to
Boston College. He continued his winning ways there,
becoming the Eagles’ very own Mr. Inside, opening holes and
gaining the tough yards when they needed it.
Frank Ishman '62
Frank Ishman was electric - both on the football field and
on the track. Fantastic Frank, as he was known back then,
led the charge for the Red Raiders in the early 60’s,
helping light the way for future greats who would follow in
Ishman became the first Red Raider
voted to the All-State team in 20 years, in an era when only
11 players made the squad. His 1961 season highlights
included an average of over 100 yards per game rushing,
along with 10 touchdowns - in only 8 games played. In his
second year as a starter, Frank was also named to the
All-Valley, All-Housy and Evening Sentinel teams. He was
also the winner of the prestigious Albarella Award.
Fantastic Frank made the most of every
opportunity to live up to his nickname. Ishman was a top
performer for the track team, as well as on the gridiron. He
starred as a sprinter in the 220 and the 440, winning
several races over his distinguished career.
After graduation, Frank spent several
years as an electrician for Yale-New Haven Hospital. Just
like in high school, he was the spark plug that helped keep
things running, Simply put, he was in charge of providing
Walt Lenart '41
Big, hard-working, deadly tackler.
That pretty much sums up what everybody thought of Walt
Lenart - especially opposing quarterbacks and runners. As
captain of the 1940 Red Raiders football squad, Lenart led
the team, under coach Nuggy Ryan, to an 8-0-1 record, the
Class B title, and a #3 ranking in Connecticut.
Lenart earned his reputation as a
bruising lineman who gave it everything he had on every
down. In a hard-fought, scoreless tie versus Milford that
year, Walt reportedly collapsed from exhaustion, having left
it all on the field that day. His heroics also contributed
to a rousing victory over Ansonia in yet another defensive
struggle, keeping the Lavender out of the end zone, securing
a 7-3 win.
A three-sport star and captain, Lenart
earned 1st Team All-State, Evening Sentinel and Coaches’
Poll honors in football, spearheading a defense that only
allowed 21 points in nine games (Shelton’s only points
against Big Red that year came on a safety).
He may not have had an all-time
nickname, and, as a lineman, you won’t find him in any
record books. But, anyone who played against him, or
watched him dominate game after game, is well aware of who
Walt Lenart was, and how hard he worked. When someone uses
the word “deadly’ to describe your defensive prowess, do you
really NEED a nickname?
John "Al" Tiano '38
John “Al” Tiano became a three-sport athlete at Derby. He
was a member of the legendary 1937-38 basketball team,
nicknamed the Moxie Five. It was this Class B squad that
Coach Nuggy Ryan opted to enter into the Class A
tournament. Tiano led the Red Raiders in scoring his junior
and senior year.
He excelled in track, as well, making his mark in the
long jump. However, it is in football that he is most
remembered as a former Derby great, who was nicknamed “Al”
by his East Derby friends because his running style reminded
them of Yale star Albie Booth.
A three-year starter, Tiano was known in the Valley as a
triple threat. John could pass, punt and run, and earned
several post-season all-star squad honors. During his three
seasons on the varsity, John’s outstanding play was
instrumental in the Raiders earning three straight
Housatonic League football titles as well as the 1937 state
Class "B" championship..
Upon graduation from DHS, John was awarded a four-year
scholarship to Manhattan College,where he played basketball
and football. He graduated in 1942. Although drafted by the
NFL, he joined the Army, where he served for four years in
the Air Corps during World War II.
Revised story posted on April 29, 2019
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