NORTH HAVEN >> The 2013 football season was certainly a memorable one for North Haven. The Indians upset three-time defending Class LL champion Xavier in a regular season contest, and then North Haven earned the program’s first playoff victory when it defeated Platt in the Class L quarterfinals.
But the season was also filled with memories that trumped those victories.
Proceeds from last season’s Spring Brawl game went to the family of Matthew Jacques, a Montowese Elementary School student who was born with a complex congenital heart defect. The game raised $13,000 for Jacques, who received a transplant but died from complications on Sept. 26. Jacques became an inspiration to the North Haven football community, and his story was picked up by media outlets across the country and the team received the inaugural Bo Kolinsky Special Recognition Award.
“Even though we had a lot of big wins last season, Matthew Jacques was definitely the highlight of our year,” North Haven incoming captain Cole Pecora said. “We helped his family, we gave back to the community, and we were able to play football in the process. Having Matthew Jacques be a part of the season was a big honor, and bigger than any win we had that season.”
This is the fourth straight Spring Brawl that will serve as a charity drive. This year’s contest will benefit Anthony Longley, a seven year-old city resident who has brain cancer. The game will kickoff Friday at 6 p.m. at Vanacore Field. Admission is $5. The game is on rain or shine, and will only be postponed if there’s lightning.
Pecora and fellow captains Joe Corniello and Tommy Gallagher, were in charge of planning the event. The captains promoted the game, sold wrist bands and got donations from local businesses, all without the help of the coaching staff. A draft was held to fill each side’s roster.
WTNH News 8 personality John Pierson will coach the White team and Dave Fisch from 104.1 FM radio will head the Maroon team. North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella hinted that a “special” event will occur at the game’s kickoff.
The game raised $2,500 for Special Olympics in 2011, and $4,500 for Benhaven, an autism support and learning resource program, the following year.
“We’re doing something good for the community, a community that’s given back so much to us,” Gallagher said. “It gives us a chance, as a group, to become leaders without the help of the coaching staff.”
The incoming seniors have met with Longley several times during the planning stage.
“He came to the draft, he’s been at practice,” Pecora said. “It’s been a great experience.”