NEW HAVEN — The virtual victory parade continued for Greenwich’s No. 1-ranked, state championship football team.
Quarterback Gavin Muir and head coach John Marinelli took home Walter Camp Football Foundation’s top honors at its 12th Annual Breakfast of Champions Saturday morning at the Omni Hotel in downtown New Haven. Muir was named the 2018 Connecticut Player of the Year while Marinelli was named the state Coach of the the Year.
In addition to taking home Walter Camp’s Joseph W. Kelly Award as the No. 1 team in Connecticut, the 13-0 Class LL champions swept all the major awards at Saturday’s breakfast banquet, which annually recognizes the best players and best teams in Connecticut high school football.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Marinelli, who defeated his father, New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli, 34-0 in the LL final last month. “And you don’t really realize it until you’re here.
“But our kids… they deserve it. They deserve the recognition for everything they’ve done this year. I’m kind of already looking at 2019 a little bit, but it’s nice to celebrate what an incredible year 2018 was. They were a great group of kids. The community rallied around us. This is the cherry on top. It’s special.”
The Walter Camp awards were all firsts for Greenwich, which claimed its first state championship since 2007.
“It was kind of nice hearing ‘Greenwich’ a bunch up there (at the podium),” Muir said. “It was an amazing season to go 13-0, win a state championship like that, with a shutout. It was a dream ending. And, today at this banquet, this is one of the last times we’ll be at a high school football event and it’s a great ending.”
Also recognized were Peter Kavanaugh of Fairfield Prep, who earned the UCan Inspire Award, presented by Generation UCan, for overcoming a season-ending knee injury to play for the Class LL semifinalist Jesuits, and former St. Joseph and West Haven championship coach Ed McCarthy, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Walter Camp Football Foundation’s All-Connecticut first and second teams were also honored, along with the four state championship teams, Greenwich in Class LL, 13-0 Hand in Class L, 12-1 St. Joseph in Class M and 12-1 Bloomfield in Class S.
Muir, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound senior who is mulling over offers to play at Fordham, Bucknell and Wagner as well as some preferred walk-on opportunities, completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,474 yards and 31 touchdowns against just six interceptions while leading Greenwich to the state title. He also fan for 277 yards and eight touchdowns and holds school records for pass attempts (683), completions (401) and touchdown passes (71).
“Being on a great team that we are, 13-0, and being the quarterback on that team… I get a little more credit than I probably should because it’s a team sport, it really is,” said Muir, who attributed his success to his offensive line. “They’re really the heart and soul of our team. They don’t get enough credit.”
Muir won the award over nominees Terrence Bogan of Sheehan and Ky’Juon Butler of Bloomfield. He is the second Greenwich player to take home a Player of the Year award, joining teammate Mozi Bici, who was the New Haven Register’s 2018 pick. “Mozi also could have won this award, too,” Muir said. “He’s an animal.”
“How many programs can say that they won the two biggest player of the year awards?” Marinelli said. “(Gavin) rewrote the record books. He’s one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve ever had, the only one I ever let into the game plan room with the other coaches. He understands the game of football so well. I’m really proud of him for all he’s had to overcome as an athlete, as a person.
“This is not his cherry-on-top. He’s going to have a great future wherever he goes. This is a really nice thing for him. He was considered the third-best quarterback in the league for a couple of years and he played his way to the top.”
Marinelli, meanwhile, coached the Cardinals to their first 13-0 season, including their first No. 1 ranking in the New Haven Register’s Top 10 poll. The son of longtime championship coach Lou Marinelli, John Marinelli owns a 23-10 career record in just four seasons as head coach. The award comes on the heels of his 2018 New Haven Register’s Coach of the Year.
Marinelli claimed the award over fellow nominees Dave Mastroianni of Hand and Brian Mazzone of Stafford/Somers/East Windsor.
Attendees were treated to speeches by Walter Camp’s 2018 Man of the Year Mike Golic, who starred at Notre Dame and now hosts a radio show at ESPN, and by USC’s Jake Olsen.
Olsen, Walter Camp’s Award of Perseverance honoree, lost both eyes to cancer as a boy — the first when he was an infant and the second when he was 12-years old — yet went on to become a long-snapper for the Trojans.
“Living with cancer was a setback in my life for 12 years,” he said. “And going blind was a setback, one I never thought was possible. It weighed heavily on my mind. But I realized that, in that setback there was a set up waiting to happen. I can use that setback for the setup, I can leverage it and believe it can bring me to new heights. And that’s what’s happened.
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. See problems as opportunities. Opportunities to get better. To grow. To achieve. …Dreams are free. But the hustle is sold separately.”