STAMFORD — It was a proud day at King School Wednesday as seven Vikings will be moving on to the challenge of college athletics.
The King football program saw LeVaughn Lewis sign a National Letter of Intent to play Division I football at the University of Delaware. Kenny Dyson Jr. signed to play at FCS school Bryant University in Massachusetts.
Chris Della Jacono, who also shined with the football program, signed to play lacrosse at Florida Southern University. Joe Skarad, catcher for the King baseball team, signed to play for Sacred Heart University.
King students headed to the Ivy League included Jenna Macrae (Princeton, rowing), James Hilton (Columbia, rowing) and Elizabeth Boeckman (Princeton, swimming).
Lewis (6-foot-3, 210) played both tight end and linebacker during King’s 4-4 season. He had 20 receptions for 315 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 385 yards on 33 carries. King starting quarterback Chris Gaine was injured in the second game and missed the rest of the season.
Family, friends and many King students were on hand Wednesday for the formal signing ceremony in the Vikings’ gym.
King alumni and former teammates Kelly Gouin (Mt. St. Mary, lacrosse) and Evan Townsend-Henry (Army) came back to their alma mater to show support.
“I’m excited to have signed and know I’m officially going to college,” Lewis said. “I’m excited to see so many people sharing friendship and love with us. I have a feeling of satisfaction to a point. I know the hard work really starts now. I want to make my mark in college.
“I went through a lot of learning periods during my three years here. But King School changed my outlook and my mindset. Someone was always in my corner supporting me,” Lewis continued. “I learned that (King football) coach Gouin always yelled at me because he cared. He always wanted me to be the best I could. I took the words as encouragement.”
Lewis could focus on the tight end position at Delaware.
“I think my focus will be on offense,” Lewis said. “But the linebackers coach at Delaware likes me as well.”
Dyson Jr. (6-foot-2, 180) played both wide receiver and linebacker/defensive end for King. He’s attended King since second grade.
It will be an interesting situation at Bryant as James Perry, the head coach the past two seasons (12-10 record) stepped down on December 3 to become the head coach at Brown University, his alma mater.
Former Trinity Catholic High standout Thomas Costigan just graduated from Bryant. Running back Tyler Llewellyn and wide receiver Will Stearns from Fairfield Warde High are also members of Bryant’s incoming recruiting class.
“During my official visit I felt Bryant was the right place for me. I connected with the current players. And coach Vinny Marino, who recruited me, is still with the program at the moment,” Dyson Jr. said. “At Bryant, I think I can prove myself as a football player to a lot of people.”
Della Jacono played running back, middle linebacker, defensive line and took over at quarterback this football season after Gaine was injured.
But his love was playing goalie as King captured the 2017 Fairchester Athletic Association title and made runs in the New England postseason tournaments.
“I started playing lacrosse in 7th grade. I was a baseball kid before that,” Della Jacono said. “I love the activity of lacrosse. Baseball, for example, is a slower-paced sport. In lacrosse you go and you don’t stop. I like being the goalie because you’re leading the defense. It’s like being quarterback in football.
“I’m so happy to be going to Florida Southern (of the Sunshine State Conference). I’m so done with northern winters,” Della Jacono continued. “I’ve been at King since second grade. They raised me. They shaped me into the person I am today. I’m so appreciative of that.”
The happiest and saddest man in the King gym might have been King’s veteran football coach/assistant lacrosse coach Dan Gouin.
“LeVaughn (Lewis) is a big play receiver. He has the height, the great hands and the football IQ to make a mark early on at Delaware. Bryant is so fortunate to get someone as athletic as Kenny Dyson Jr.,” Gouin said. “I’m happy Chris Della Jacono is getting to play lacrosse goalie at Florida Southern. He gave me everything he had at so many positions in football for four years.
“I’m happy for all the kids. I known LeVaughn since second grade and coached Kenny and Chris since second grade. I’ve grown old as they have grown up,” Gouin continued. “All seven kids attained something that’s very hard to earn. I’m proud but a little sad to lose three kids that I truly love.”
Skarad joins Sacred Heart University baseball and head coach Nick Restaino after spending the last two seasons at King following two years at Westhill High.
Skarad spent much of his youth playing baseball on Bobby Valentine’s Fury squads. He considers Bobby Valentine’s Baseball Academy in Stamford almost as a second home.
“Sacred Heart is close to home and the environment is great,” Skarad said. “My parents have supported me throughout my school and travel baseball games. I wanted to go somewhere they could watch my college baseball games as well. I see catcher as a leadership position. I want to be involved in every play during a baseball game.”