When it came time to find the beneficiary of its annual Spring Brawl football charity event, coach Anthony Sagnella and the North Haven football program didn’t have to look very far. It started right in the hallways of their school and among the fire engines that blare sirens after every touchdown scored at Vanacore Field.
It turned out that Reece Varney, a North Haven High School custodian and one of the volunteer firemen who helps organize the engines at North Haven home games, had a 2-year old grandson who had been afflicted with leukemia.
“Reece is loved by our kids and really the whole school. So, once we found out about it, it was easy,” Sagnella said.
So this year North Haven will be playing its 14th annual spring game for Cameron Wilson. His family will receive all of the proceeds, from the $5 cover charge, to the memorabilia, the raffle and concessions sold. The event will kick off Friday, 6 p.m. at Vanacore Field.
The 14th Annual Spring Brawl:
THIS FRIDAY at 6:00 p.m.
— North Haven Football (@NHHSFootball) June 12, 2018
This is the ninth year the Spring Brawl has been used a charity to benefit a local person in need. As with all previous beneficiaries, Wilson was invited to the spring game’s intrasquad draft held Monday night. His mother, Jessica, and father, Brendan, will join him for the coin-toss ceremony before the game.
“I’ve met the little dude twice now and he’s a pistol, he really is,” Sagnella said. “At our draft the other night — which was held between our graduating seniors and the team — he was standing on our table yelling ‘Look, Mommy! I’m tall! I’m tall!
“He’s great. You wouldn’t even know he was sick except that he has no hair. Nobody can touch him, because his immune system is compromised because of the treatments. He’s only recently been able to go outdoors and go places.”
Sagnella was concerned that North Haven’s early graduation date might interfere with the event, since many of the football players still would be involved in their spring sports. “We were on schedule to get out (of school) on the 10th, which would have been challenging,” he said. “We would have had to play before finals. But thanks to a bunch of crazy tornadoes and snowstorms, we were able to get the needed days to hold the event.
“Fortunately, somebody is watching us.”
The White Team’s celebrity coach will be Steve Narracci Sr., an East Haven native who now lives in North Haven and recently retired after a 59-year career as an official, including the last 17 as the head of the New Haven Football Officials Association.
The Maroon Team’s celebrity coach will be Billy Mitchell, a longtime committee member of the North Haven Tomahawk booster club.
This year’s game will be coached by 2017 captains Korben Pecora and Mark Montano. The game will follow spring rules, with 10-minute quarters of running time, quick whistles and limited kicking games.
Those who can’t make the even but wish to donate to Wilson’s cause can send checks payable to North Haven High School, c/o Anthony Sagnella, 221 Elm St., North Haven, 06473, with “Spring Brawl” written in the memo.
“The weather is supposed to be nice so it should be a fun and fast night of high school football,” Sagnella said.
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