Football - Varsity
The All-Housatonic Football League announced their All-League award winners and four Salisbury Knights were recognized for their outstanding performance during the 2013 season.
Tailback Denzel Knight was recognized as he accumulated over 2,000 all-purpose yards. Knight rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. Lineman Mike LeBlanc dominated the trenches while establishing himself as a dynamic run blocker on offense. Defensively, LeBlanc disrupted the opponent’s offensive schemes while accumulating 5.5 sacks and 6 tackles for a loss on the season. Captain Tommy D’Antonio directed the Knights defense from his free safety position. As a receiver, D’Antonio shared the top spot as Salisbury’s leading receiving; averaging 16.8 yards per reception. Richard Lopez proved to be one of the most explosive big play threats in the league as he electrified the crowds as a wide receiver, defensive back and as a return specialist. Lopez led the Knights defense in interceptions (6) and pass break-ups (14). As a receiver, Lopez shared the top spot as Salisbury’s leading receiver; averaging 15.8 yards per reception. As a kick return specialist, Lopez had 332 yards and returned one kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown.
Salisbury Team Awards
Most Improved Award:
Matt Dugan ’15
Ryan Phelps ’15
Tommy D’Antonio ‘14
John DiCaro ‘14
The Edward R. Childs Football Award
The football team of 1971 gave this award. Given annually to the varsity football player whose hard work, devotion, talent and courage have best exemplified the Salisbury Spirit.
This year's award goes to: Nick Cominos ’14
The Jonathan C. Boyce and Patrick Stern Offensive Player of the Year Award
Given annually to the most valuable member or members of the offense.
This year's recipient is: Denzel Knight ‘14
The Jonathan C. Boyce and Patrick Stern Defensive Player of the Year Award
Given annually to the most valuable member or members of the defense.
This year's recipients are: Mike LeBlanc ’14 and Richard Lopez ‘14
After turning the ball over to Exeter on the opening kickoff of the game, the Knights defense responded on their first defensive series of the game by stopping Exeter on a fourth down attempt inside the Knights 40 yard line. Austin Whipple would then lead his offense on a 17 play drive that consisted of three third down conversations and one 4th down conversation on a 9 yard pass from Whipple to Nick Weston. Unfortunately, Salisbury’s drive would end on a failed 4th and goal attempt from Exeter’s one foot line. However, the Knights would be the first to put points on the scoreboard on the ensuing play as linebackers Darnell Hart and Shane Johnson would sack Exeter’s quarterback in the end zone for a safety.
Nine plays later, the Knights defense would create another turnover, giving the ball back to the offense. Whipple again would lead his offensive unit on a 12 play drive; ending in a 1 yard plunge by Shawahl Abdur-Rahman behind the blocking of Shane Johnson, Tyler Fisher, and Elden Baker. With a 9-0 lead, Exeter would not go away as they connected on a 29 yard touchdown pass; making the score 9-7. Tommy D’Antonio would push the score to 16-7 when he picked up a blocked punt and scampered in for a score; the Knights second touchdown on the afternoon. Scoring in the waning moments of the half, Exeter would make the contest a three point game after a touchdown and a failed point after attempt. The Knights entered the intermission with a 16-13 lead.
Exeter would strike first in the second half with 63 yard touchdown pass which gave Exeter their first lead of the game, 16-19, as they failed to convert on the their two point conversation attempt. Whipple, however, led his team again on another 12 play drive that concluded with Whipple crossing the goal line on a quarterback sneak; giving the Knights a 23-19 lead. The Knights would push their lead to 7 points on a 22 yard field goal from Charles Coccia in the final minutes of the third quarter. Exeter, however, would once again respond on a one yard run that would even the game up at 26 points apiece.
In the latter minutes of the 4th quarter, Exeter, facing a stingy Knights defense, faked a punt that looked as if it would be successful as an Exeter receiver dashed to the first down marker. With tremendous effort, Scott Hovey dove and tripped up the ball carrier; dropping him two yards shy of the first down marker. After exchanging series, the Knights would have one final attempt for victory as Whipple took over with only a couple of minutes remaining to play. Methodically, the Knights would march the ball down the field on a twelve play drive; highlighted by a 4th down conversion pass from Whipple to D’Antonio. Head Coach Chris Phelps remarked on the conversion saying, “That 4th down conversion is one of those plays that has been forgotten in the excitement of the victory. It was a pressure throw and a pressure catch. Not only did it extend our drive but it also kept the ball out of Exeter’s hands. The 11 yards reception was a big time play.” Four plays and 17 yards later, Coccia would be on the field for his victorious kick.
Chris Phelps expressed his pride in his team stating, “This was a special game for our program. Throughout the entire game we had different people step up and make plays at different times. We have played unselfish football this year where no individual goals were more important than team success. As a result, we were able to accomplish both. Playing within the team concept, we had great individual performances that led to a team championship.”
Varsity Football Coach Chris Phelps returned from the New England Coaches Meeting with good news regarding post-season awards. Read more...
History of the Program
Salisbury School held its first football practice in 1904, and the small, inexperienced squad played two games that year. A short hiatus followed, but in 1907 competition on the gridiron resumed. In 1910 the team completed its first undefeated season, with a record of 5-0-1. That same year the rapidly expanding school fielded its first “Thirds” squad. Two members of the 1917 varsity team were selected “All-American” members of the “Yale Eleven.” Football season was interrupted only in 1918 when World War I caused the student body to turn to military drill and “Swedish” exercise instead. Football resumed in 1919 under the leadership of coach John Myers, recently returned from active military service. His squads completed undefeated seasons in 1920 and 1921. The 1921 squad trounced its opponents by a combined score of 301-0. For more than three decades football ruled autumn afternoons at Salisbury as the only interscholastic sport and in 1930 95-100 boys filled four separate teams. The team compiled another undefeated season in 1955, going 5-0. Football enjoyed great success in the 1950s and early 1960s under coaches Tom Dorsey and Bob Gardner, with a combined record of 26-9 over a period of eight seasons. Another undefeated campaign led by coach Ted Childs followed in 1974. During the 1980s Salisbury School joined the Fairchester Football League. Despite growing competition from other fall sports, football enjoyed its greatest success in the late 1990s and early 2000s under the guiding hand of coaches Sean Brennan and Chris Adamson, winning New England championships in 1997, 2000, and 2007. Under the leadership of Head Coach Chris Phelps, the Crimson Knights most recently won New England championships in 2010 and 2012.
Football after Salisbury
Salisbury School has a strong tradition of preparing their student-athletes for the academic and athletic demands of collegiate athletics. Below are the recent student-athletes who have left the Hilltop to pursue their passion of playing at the collegiate level.
- Shawal Abdur-Rhaham - Ithaca College
- Lucas Amato - University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Leon Cummings - Marist College
- Tyler Fisher - Old Dominion University
- Darnell Hart - Merrimack College
- Shane Johnson - Coastal Carolina University
- Chase O’Connell - Dickinson College
- Sadiq Olanrewaju - University of Virginia
- Dwayne Scott - Middlebury College
- Austin Whipple -Pennsylvania State University
- Tucker Gumkowski - Hobart College
- Ryan Hamilton - Williams College
- Brandon Hollomon - Univeristy of Kansas
- Larry “KJ” Johnson - Susquehanna University
- Anthony McDonnaugh - Monmouth University
- JP Pieterse - Amherst College
- Jay Fabien - Wesleyan University
- Nick Fraser - Wittenberg University
- Joey Harmon - Villanova University
- Spencer Karls - Ohio Wesleyan University
- Alex Lavrentios - Cornell University
- Jake Mauro - Monmouth University
- Marc Mauro - Florida Atlantic University
- William Powers - Princeton University
- Ben Wezel - University of Maine
- Kai Brusch - Fordham University
- John Patrick Riley - Sacred Heart University
- Brian Sanford - Marist College
- Jeff Skoog - University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Will Tye - Florida State University
- Bjoern Werner - Florida State University
- Gary Lee Wilson - Lindenwood University
- Rae Haynes - Trinity College
- Adam Kelsey - Hamilton College
- Chase Richey - Union College
- Greg Schuster - University of Pennsylvania
- Forrest West - North Carolina State University
- Clayton Keller - United States Military Academy- West Point
- Jarrid Bryant - Arizona State University
- Peace Edafe - Stony Brook University
- Robert Lansbury - Pacific Lutheran University
- Rich Bell - Tulane University
- Matt Battaglia - Yale University
- Devon Dace - University of Rhode Island
- Shayne Begin - Colby College
- Spenser Merwin - Colby College
- John Strong - Southern Connecticut State University
- Nick Molinari - Endicott College
- Jack Small - Lake Forest College