Derby High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Congratulations to the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019

 

Joe Benanto   Jim Foley  Glenn Gaetano  Gary Lucarelli

Anthony Marcucio  Barry McDermott  Jerry Romano  Fran Walinski

 

Jim Foley '37

As if playing four sports weren’t enough, Jim Foley lettered in and was elected captain of each one (football, basketball, baseball and track). During the spring season, he pitched for the baseball team and competed in the throwing events in track between innings, usually finishing either first or second. His school record in the shot put stood for 30 years. Foley was also a champion sprinter, winning many 100- and 220-yard dashes, and was an excellent broad jumper.

In an era long before specialization became popular, Jim Foley was a living definition of the all-around athlete. His prowess on the track, the field and the court (mostly under the guidance of Hall of Fame coach Nuggy Ryan) helped solidify his status as one of Derby’s all-time greats.
 

Fran Walinski ' 50

 

Most long-time Derby fans, when asked who the best athlete in school history was, are sure to include Fran Walinski on their short list of candidates. “Wawa,” as he was known back then, did it all - and did it well.

Fran was the first Derby player to earn All-State honors in basketball, averaging 19 points a game and leading the team to the state tournament. As a star on the gridiron, Wawa scored 7 touchdowns from the tight end position, including the only two in a hard-fought 13-all tie against rival Seymour. He also had a pivotal punt block against Sacred Heart, turning the tide and leading the Raiders to victory.

Walinski was also a standout for Derby in baseball, leading them in several key categories.
Many have tried to follow in Fran’s footsteps over the years, but few have had a similar impact on Derby sports. His all-around excellence has remained the standard for generations of Red Raider players and fans alike.

Joe Benanto '56

 

Among other superlatives, Joe Benanto was voted by his class as most athletic and the guy having done the most for the school. When you combine the two, you end up with someone who did quite a bit to advance the fortunes of Derby’s athletic programs.

Joe was a tremendous scorer for the basketball team, averaging 21 points a game as a senior. His total of 428 that year was the school record until fellow Hall of Famer, Ken Pereiras, came along and broke it in 1971. Benanto was a 3-year starter on the hardwood, and eclipsed the 30-point mark four times - well before the 3-point line ever existed.

As a four-year star on the diamond, Benanto excelled on the mound, helping lead Big Red to its first title, the ‘54 Housy crown. Among Joe’s best moments as a ballplayer was his dominant no-hit performance against arch-rival Ansonia. As for doing the most for the school, pitching a gem like that certainly qualifies.

Barry McDermott '64

 

At 155 pounds, one wouldn’t exactly expect a guy like Barry McDermott to be a force in the trenches. McDermott spent his high school career defying - and redefining - expectations. A two-year starter at center, Barry was an All-State selection as a senior.

McDermott was also a terror on defense. His motto was “hit and hate,” and he took every opportunity to let the opposition know it. In a scrimmage against Stamford one year, the opposing coach resorted to double-teaming in an effort to contain Barry. When even that didn’t work, the coach could do nothing more marvel at what he was watching. Though he was smaller than most at his position, none could ever underestimate the size of McDermott’s heart and determination. Anyone who did, found out the hard way what “hit and hate” really meant.

 

Jerry Romano '67

 

One of the stars who helped put Derby football back on the map, Jerry Romano was a standout two-way lineman for Big Red during his 2-time All-State career. A great pulling guard, Romano was often singled out by coach Ron Carbone during film sessions as a model of consistency and excellence.

Romano, along with fellow Hall of Famers George Budzniak and Tony Passander, put the Derby program on his back and led the charge toward greatness that made the Red Raiders a force to be reckoned with for generations to come.

His presence in the trenches on offense helped open holes and keep drives alive. On the other side of the ball, he was part of a tough, hard-hitting defense, helping to establish a tradition of excellence that would endure for decades.

Gary Lucarelli '69


 

As a star runner for the Derby track team, Gary Lucarelli excelled in the 100, 220 and relay teams. Winning a majority of his races, Lucarelli sprinted to a Top 3 finish in the State meet in the 100, among the best performances in school history.

Running was also one of Gary’s specialties on the gridiron, as well. HIs 1,500 career rushing yards was a school record for years. As a two-year starter, Lucarelli led Derby to consecutive unbeaten campaigns, winning back-to-back Housy titles along the way.

Glenn Gaetano '70

 

As one of the captains of the premier Derby football squad, Glenn Gaetano was a leader on both sides of the ball, earning Albarella Award honors. As a bruising linebacker and game-changing running back, Gaetano was a first-team All-State selection for the State Champion ‘69 Red Raiders. He was a 1000-yard rusher, and often led the team in tackles on defense.

Part of a senior class that never lost a football game, Glenn will forever hold a special place in the hearts and minds of Derby fans, as well as the utmost respect of any player or coach who went up against him. He was the prototypical two-way performer, almost like having a second coach on the field. A quiet leader and hard hitter, Gaetano set the tone - and everyone else followed.

Anthony Marcucio '99

They say all you have to do is look in the mirror to see your toughest competition. When your big brother is a State champion wrestler, however, sibling rivalry outweighs any personal goals you may have for yourself. For Anthony Marcucio, becoming part of the first brother duo to earn induction into the Derby Athletic Hall of Fame is yet another well-deserved and hard-earned achievement.

Marcucio won the Class S title each of his 4 years, and was Top 4 in the State Open three times, winning the championship as a senior. That year, he also advanced to the New England finals. His 152 wins and 105 pins are school records. After graduation, Anthony went on to Trinity and wrestled on the team there.


Story posted on November 2, 2019


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