Zach Allen, the standout senior defensive end for New Canaan High School, became the first defensive player in 20 years to be named Player of the Year when the New Haven Register released its 83rd All-State Football Team in its Jan. 26 edition.
Allen was one of seven players from the FCIAC chosen to the 26-player All-State First Team.
The other six players were Alex LaPolice, his senior teammate, Darien senior George Reed, Darien junior Mark Evanchick, St. Joseph seniors Mufasha Abdul Basir and Lars Pederson, and Norwalk senior Evan Adams.
Darien won the FCIAC championship on Thanksgiving by scoring the game’s last 28 points in a 28-21 overtime victory over New Canaan. The two rivals had a rematch in the Class L Large state championship game and there was another big comeback. But this time it was New Canaan’s Rams who pulled it off as they rallied back from a 20-7 halftime deficit and pulled out a 21-20 victory.
St. Joseph’s only two losses during the regular season were against Darien and New Canaan. St. Joseph cruised to a 37-7 victory over Ledyard in the Class M Small state championship.
Allen is the first MVP as a defensive player since Crosby’s Tony Ortiz in 1994. The Register has selected an All-State MVP since 1969 and Allen is the fifth New Canaan player named MVP. The previous Rams who were so honored are wide receiver Pete Demmerle (1970), quarterback Kurt Horton (1971), two-way lineman Scott Overbeck (1990) and running back Chris Silvestri (1993), who is now New Canaan’s defensive coordinator for head coach Lou Marinelli.
Allen, a 6-foot-6, 258-pounder who was versatile enough to occasionally play linebacker, forced seven fumbles and had 13.5 sacks among his 102 total tackles. He also picked off a pair of passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Allen will play at Northwestern.
There were 13 players selected on defense and 13 selected on offense on the All-State First Team.
LaPolice, a 6-foot-2, 191-pound wide receiver, had 19 touchdowns. The Harvard-bound LaPolice had 10 touchdown receptions, he rushed for eight touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a TD.
Reed and Evanchick — the two Darien players — joined Allen as the three FCIAC players on the All-State Defense chosen as defensive linemen. Evanchick racked up 25 sacks among his 80 tackles to make All-State for the second consecutive year. Reed had 79 tackles, including 14 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks.
Abdul-Basir and Pedersen – the two St. Joseph Cadets – made All-State Offense. Abdul-Basir, a 5-foot-10, 172 pound running back, scored 21 touchdowns and averaged 8.3 yards per carry when he rushed for 2,344 yards on 283 carries.
Pedersen joined Evanchick as a repeat All-State First Team choice. Last year he made it as a wide receiver. This year Pedersen was selected as a special teamer for having scored on two kickoff returns and another pair of punt returns among his 22 total touchdowns. But he was also superb on offense once again. He had nine TD receptions, nine rushing touchdowns and 2,069 all-purpose yards. Pedersen will play at Cornell.
Adams, a big young man at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, also happens to be a well-rounded athlete. He was selected as an offensive lineman who the Bears ran most of the running plays behind but he was also a dominant force on defense. Adams has given a verbal commitment to play at Syracuse.
The FCIAC had four of the 13 players selected to the All-State Second Team Offense – Darien senior offensive lineman Jack Griffiths, New Canaan junior offensive lineman Lucas Niang, St. Joseph senior offensive lineman Troy Vazzano and Staples junior kicker Paul Tricarico.
Seven conference players made the All-State Third Team. Greenwich junior tight end Scooter Harrington and New Canaan senior offensive lineman Jim Keneally were selected to the offense, while the five FCIAC players chosen on defense included Staples senior lineman Will Newman, Danbury junior linebacker Pierre Moudourou, New Canaan senior defensive backs Sterling O’Hara and Mike Kraus, and St. Joseph junior punter Cam Ryan.
And there were also 27 FCIAC players who earned All-State Honorable Mention.
The quarterbacks were Fairfield Warde senior Brandon Bisack, Stamford senior Jalen Brown, New Canaan junior Mike Collins, Darien junior Tim Graham, and Warren Harding freshman Taisun Phommachanh. The wide receivers included Stamford senior Andrew Antoine, Warde senior Ryan Brown, Darien seniors Todd Herget and Griffin Ross, Darien junior Colin Minicus, Ridgefield senior Robert Peckham, Trinity Catholic senior Randy Polonia, and New Canaan junior Kyle Smith. The offensive lineman was Staples senior Jack Dulsky.
The All-State Honorable Mention defensive players from the FCIAC included Trinity Catholic senior LB Thomas Costigan, Staples senior LB Nick Esposito, Brien McMahon senior LB Timothy Hinton, Danbury senior DB Anfreny Ith, McMahon senior DB Kentrell Snider, Staples sophomore K/P Ryan Fitton, St. Joseph senior K/P Marc Mrozek, Ridgefield sophomore K/P Petros Papadopoulos, New Canaan junior K/P Peter Swindell and Darien senior K/P Stephen Walker.
The FCIAC honorable mention players in the Athlete category included Greenwich senior Austin Longi, Danbury senior Tysheen McCrea and Warde senior Joey Potenza.
The FCIAC is now in its 54th school year as an official conference.
With the aformentioned seven players selected by the Register to its first team, the conference now has a total of 241 players selected to the All-State First Team since its first football season in 1961.
Although many former conference players made the All-State First Team twice, Darien’s Evanchick could be only the second player ever from the FCIAC to make the All-State First Team three times if the current junior stays healthy and has another great year next year.
Bobby Valentine is still the only conference player who is a three-time All-State First Team selection. The electrifying running back for Rippowam High School (Stamford) first made it as a sophomore in the fall of 1965, then he repeated during his upperclassman years of 1966 and ’67.
The 234 previous selections of FCIAC players on the Register’s All-State First Team prior to this year are listed below, categorized by the year in which they were selected:
1961 – Charles Skubas, WR, Roger Ludlowe (Fairfield); Peter Palkimas, G, Stamford; Vin Moronovic, C, New Canaan.
1962 – Dick Swatland, T, Stamford Catholic; Tom Hickey, B, Stamford Catholic.
1963 – Ron Kopek, E, Rippowam (Stamford), Bill Wolff, T, Stamford; Ken Vogel, T, Darien; Paul Nagle, C, Darien; Dave Thomas, B, Rippowam, Danny DeVito, B, Stamford.
1964 – Roosevelt Penney, E, Stamford; Stan Rajczewski, T, Stamford Catholic; John Dobson, G, Darien; Bill Repko, C, Ludlowe.
1965 – Mandell Davis, E, Stamford Catholic; John O’Connell, T, Stamford Catholic; Frank Funicello, G, Rippowam; Bob Valentine, B, Rippowam; Russ Kruse, B, Rippowam; Bill Saunders, E, New Canaan.
1966 – Tom McCrocklin, E, Rippowam; Win Headley, T, Staples; John Thies, G, Stamford Catholic; Morris Gross, C, Brien McMahon; Rick Robustelli, B, Stamford Catholic; Bob Valentine, B, Rippowam.
1967 – Dave Lindsay, E, Staples; Bob Kuchta, G, Rippowam; Bob Valentine, B, Rippowam; Bennett Salvatore, B, Stamford Catholic; Len Paglialunga, B, New Canaan.
1968 – K.C. Braun, E, Norwalk; Mike Pullen, G, Ludlowe; Chris Lynch, C, Stamford; Len Paglialunga, B, New Canaan.
1969 – Pete Demmerle, E, New Canaan; Bob Kircher, T, New Canaan; John Vosilus, T, Danbury; Rocco DiMuzio, G, New Canaan; Brian Usher, G, Stamford; Pat Sikorski, C, New Canaan; Lem James, B, New Canaan; Prentiss Wilson, B, Stamford.
1970 – Pete Demmerle, E, New Canaan; Bob Augustyn, E, Stamford; Bruce Montgomery, T, Stamford; Cliff Perry, T, Norwalk; Perry Orgera, C, Stamford; Don Ward, B, Greenwich; Jim Cobb, B, Stamford; Kurt Horton, B, New Canaan.
1971 – Jim Brewer, T, Stamford; Mickey Haggerty, C, Stamford; Kurt Horton, B, New Canaan; Joe Fox, DE, Greenwich; Larry Schmidt, DT, Stamford; Paul Steinberg, LB, Stamford; Rick Lee, DB, Stamford.
1972 – Frank Panella, WR, New Canaan; Mickey Haggerty, OT, Stamford; Rich Chenell, DE, Ludlowe; Dino Roglou, LB, McMahon.
1973 – Ken Ockell, G, Danbury; Drew Schuett, QB, Staples; Vin VanDyke, DE, Greenwich; Mark Coslett, LB, Trumbull.
1974 – Tom Morris, OT, Greenwich; Lou Orlando, G, Greenwich; Vinny Calzone, DB, McMahon.
1975 – Bill Urbon, OT, Trumbull; Gary Shaw, LB, Staples.
1976 – Bob Phalen, WR, Ridgefield; Mark Kunkel, OT, Trumbull; Ron Gorton, DE, Trumbull; Greg Holmes, DT, Danbury; Dave Papenfuss, DT, Wilton; Derek Raymond, LB, McMahon.
1977 – Glenn Holmes, OT, Danbury; Mark Sitar, C, Trumbull; Joe Markus, RB , Trumbull; Dave Puzzuoli, DE, Stamford Catholic.
1978 – Mark Wittenbauer, DT, Wilton; Dave Puzzuoli, LB, Stamford Catholic.
1979 – Doug Hart, G, Darien; Jim Rhodes, PK, Staples; Charles Bounty, DT, Darien; Roosevelt Reede, DT, Norwalk; George Radachowsky, DB, Danbury.
1980 – Mike Megura, DE, Trumbull; Jerry Tyson, DT, Rippowam; Lou Ceci, LB, Greenwich; Don Grennon, P, Trumbull.
1981 – Jim Vadas, WR, Warde; Ken Bell, RB, Greenwich; Kevin Kane, DE, Ridgefield; Jim Pauciello, Trumbull; John Stone, LB, Rippowam; Don Grennon, P, Trumbull.
1982 – Marty Edward, C, Danbury; Dan Fleishman, PK, Greenwich.
1983 – Frank Intrieri, OT, Greenwich; Bob Palermo, C, Stamford; Chris Lynch, DE, Greenwich; Howard Lee, DB, Trumbull.
1984 – Mark Cowper, DT, Wilton.
1985 – Matt Kelly, TE, New Canaan; Andrew Walker, OT, Norwalk; Marvin Tomlin, RB, McMahon; Lyndon Johnson, DT, McMahon; Bill Bryant, DT, Wilton; Mike Brown, DB, Trumbull; Jay Baines, DB, Stamford Catholic.
1986 – Mark Allen, TE, Trumbull; Eric Goldman, RB, Trumbull; Kevin Campfield, DT, Trumbull; Steve Lawrence, Greenwich; Gene Vadas, P, Trumbull.
1987 – Mark Allen, TE, Trumbull; Pete Gasparino, OT, Greenwich; Lance Hjelte, PK, Ridgefield; Paul Duckworth, DT, Danbury; Jeff Swall, LB, Darien.
1988 – Craig Roubinek, TE, New Canaan; Chris Overbeck, QB, New Canaan; Paul Duckworth, DL, Danbury; Dan Kerr, DL, Wilton.
1989 – Tim O’Hara, OL, Ridgefield; Mark Krichbaum, DL, Ridgefield; Mike Mora, DB, Greenwich; Tim Smith, DB, Danbury.
1990 – Walt Regula, WR, Fairfield; Brent Gibbons, WR, Darien; Casey Hartley, RB, Greenwich; John Rogers, RB, Danbury; Donovan Prawl, DL, Westhill; Scott Overbeck, DL, New Canaan; Burnie McClinton, LB, Norwalk; Jason Lynch, LB, Danbury; Ed Mantie, P, Danbury.
1991 – Daryl Parler, WR, Trumbull; Scott Kiernan, OL, Greenwich; Rich Manzo, DL, Danbury; Seth Lorenz, PK, Ridgefield; Mike Chambers, DB, Greenwich.
1992 – Brian Merritt, WR, Darien; Jason Hall, OL, McMahon; Scott Kiernan, OL, Greenwich; Peter Davidson, QB, Darien; Sam Shirley, LB, Trinity Catholic.
1993 – Matt Baehr, OL, New Canaan; Bob Spillane, QB, Trinity Catholic; Chris Silvestri, RB, New Canaan.
1994 – James Breece, WR, Danbury; Willy Mercado, DL, McMahon; Idris Price, LB, McMahon.
1995 – Joe Burton, OL, Greenwich; Todd Mossa, OL, Darien; Andy Flick, DL, Wilton.
1996 – Joe Burton, OL, Greenwich; Todd Mossa, OL, Darien; Bob Lynch, DL, New Canaan.
1997 – Mac DeVito, QB; Justin Finnegan, DL, Darien; Steve Neugebauer, LB, St. Joseph; Matt Manzione, DB, Trumbull.
1998 – Doug Vroman, WR, Staples; Chris Potter, OL, Greenwich; Lawrence Audena, LB, Norwalk; Tyler Stefkovich, LB, Staples.
1999 – Jim Henry, RB, Greenwich; Dave Kashetta, TE, Staples; Fernando Cuartas, LB, Greenwich; Sam Fletcher, DB, Darien.
2000 – Brian Chacos, TE, Darien; Chris Balestrino, OL, New Canaan; Chris Watkins, DL, McMahon.
2001 – John Sullivan, OL, Greenwich; Rob Krauss, DB, Staples.
2002 – John Sullivan, OL, Greenwich; Pete Morelli, TE, Ridgefield; Charles Emerson, OL, Staples; Anthony Silvestro, OL, New Canaan; Bruno Dorismond, DL, New Canaan; Jim Cabrera, DB, Greenwich; Rob Krauss, DB, Staples.
2003 – Edmundo Arias, K, McMahon; Jimmy Hughes, DB, Staples.
2004 – Anthony Morello, OL, Greenwich; Blair Smart, OL, Stamford; Dean DeNovio, K, Ridgefield; Tyler Cabrera, DL, Greenwich; Pat Scott, LB, Staples; Kelleray Gill, DB, Bridgeport Central.
2005 – Dave Young, OL, Trumbull; Dennis Bien, K, Greenwich; Brian Levine, DB, Staples; Andrew DeRito, ST, Ridgefield; D.J. Stefkovich, P, Staples.
2006 – Charles Williams, DL, Greenwich; Andrew Kennedy, DL, Staples; Jonathan Meyers, LB, Greenwich; Francois Auzerais, LB, Staples; Dan Neeleman, DB, New Canaan; Curt Casali, P, New Canaan.
2007 – Charlie Westfal, QB, New Canaan; Chris Bisanzo, OL, Greenwich; Josh Kozel, LB, Staples; Jonathan Meyers, LB, Greenwich; Christian Garcia, K, Norwalk.
2008 – Kurt Ondash, WR, New Canaan; Brian Kosnik, WR, Darien; Chris Hines, UT, Norwalk; Nate Quinn, DB, New Canaan; Matt Baker, P, Ridgefield.
2009 – Brendan Rankowitz, WR, Staples; Cody Newton, WR, New Canaan; Ernest Wiggins, OL, Bridgeport Central; Conor Hanratty, OL, New Canaan; Santiago Cuartos, K, Staples; Jake Santora, LB, Staples; Tyler Matakevich, LB, St. Joseph; Tommy Jordan, DL, Ridgefield.
2010 – Kevin Macari, WR, New Canaan; Tommy Jordan, OL, Ridgefield; Conor Hanratty, OL, New Canaan; Tyler Matakevich, LB, St. Joseph; Patrick Murray, DL, Staples; Charlie Kunze, DL, Darien; Jason Mawicke, Staples.
2011 – Shane Nastahowski, LB, Greenwich; Jon Heil, P, Staples.
2013 – Lars Pedersen, WR, St. Joseph; Joao Rocha, OL, New Canaan; Peter Swindell, K, New Canaan; Connor Buck, DL, New Canaan; Mark Evanchick, DL, Darien; Cole Harris, LB, New Canaan; Michael Root, LB, New Canaan; Austin Longi, ST, Greenwich; Nick Lombardo, U, Darien.