NEW HAVEN >> Standing at the podium beside towering, all-state players — New Canaan’s Zach Allen and Southington’s Jasen Rose — Shelton quarterback Mark Piccirillo gave himself zero chance of winning the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
Was he good enough? Yes. Would he win? Surely not over Allen, the Gatorade State Player of the Year and the New Haven Register’s All-State MVP who won a state title. Probably not over Rose, who had insane passing numbers, won a state championship and helped his team earn the Register’s No. 1 ranking.
Piccirillo didn’t even bother to write a speech. “I didn’t think I was going to win,” the senior said. “I kind of had something prepared in my head, but nothing special.”
Imagine the stunned look on Piccirillo’s face when the cracked envelope revealed his name on the placard.
Piccirillo, who shattered Shelton passing records held by former great Dan Orlovsky and brought the Gaels within millimeters of winning their first state championship since 2003, brought home the state player of the year award at the Walter Camp Weekend’s Breakfast of Champions at Anthony’s Ocean View Saturday morning.
“I was kind of shocked,” Piccirillo said. “It’s a good feeling. It’s pretty nice, with this big ordeal, to be named by Walter Camp as the state’s best player. I was kind of hoping to get one of these. This is one of the better ones.”
With Walter Camp’s Man of the Year award winner and former all-pro back Jerome Bettis and former Walter Camp All-American David Fulcher in attendance, Piccirillo and 25 other Connecticut high school football players were honored for their selections to the Walter Camp’s All-Connecticut team. The eight 2014 CIAC state champions were also recognized.
Southington’s Mike Drury was named Walter Camp’s Coach of Year. Drury, the son of former Pomperaug championship coach and Chuck Drury, won his second consecutive state title at Southington in just his fourth year. The Blue Knights were voted the No. 1 team in the New Haven Register / GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll.
“I’ve coached with some tremendous coaches who have five state championships among them,” said Drury, who praised the Southington coaching staff, players and community for the program’s success. “I give a lot of credit for where I am today for showing me the right way.”
Drury won the award over Class S-Large championship coach Tim King of Valley Regional /Old Lyme and Shelton’s Jeff Roy, the Class LL-Small runner-up coach.
“I told Mark (Piccirillo), I have no chance at winning, but I think you do, so you’d better have a speech ready,” Roy said. “He deserves it, that’s for sure.”
Piccirillo threw for 2,530 yards, 30 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He rushed for 1,614 yards and 23 touchdowns. Shelton went 12-1 and only lost to Xavier, 28-27, in overtime at the Class LL-Small state championship.
“We worked hard all year and with hard work comes things like this,” Piccirillo said, while thanking his coaches, teammates and opponents. “Despite the ending that we had, it doesn’t really matter now. Everyone had a great year, a great time. These guys (Allen and Rose) are two of the best players in the state. I thought one of them would get it over me.”
Piccirillo, who will play at Wesleyan next year, was first-team all-state for the Connecticut High School Coaches Association, the New Haven Register and Walter Camp teams. He was the New Haven Register all-area MVP.
“There’s no way to overstate what he’s meant to us for three years,” Roy said. “The numbers speak for themselves, as does his every day work ethic, the leadership, everything he brings to the table for us. If he’s not the best, he’s one of the best to ever play for Shelton.”
Six-year old Dante Chiappetta, who has persevered over Cerebral Palsy and Cortical Visual Impairment with help from the Yale Football team, was honored with the Generation UCAN Inspire Award. Yale drafted Chiappetta to their team this fall and drew inspiration from him.
New Britain athletic director Len Corto was honored with the lifetime achievement award. He football at South Catholic (1974-87) and New Britain (1988-2000) and had a career record of 144-122-7.
Walter Camp Football Foundation All-Connecticut Team
- QB: Mark Piccirillo (Shelton), Jasen Rose (Southington)
- RB: Mufasha Adbdul-Basir (St. Joseph), JoJo Schumaker (Ledyard)
- WR: Alex Jamele (Southington), Alex LaPolice (New Canaan)
- TE: Julian Dunn (Newtown)
- OL: Jack Griffiths (Darien), Noah MacDonald (Southington), Anthony Palazzolo (Fairfield Prep), Ryan Rogers (Avon)
- C: Tanner Kern (Xavier)
- LB: Tim Krapf (Newtown), Ben Mason (Newtown), Owen Tyler (Northwest Catholic)
- DB: Dario Highsmith (Middletown), Matt Maxwell (Southington), Jarvis Miller (Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby), Lars Pedersen (St. Joseph)
- DL: Zach Allen (New Canaan), Kevaughn Bennett (Windsor), Mark Evanchick (Darien), Sidney Jones (Capital Prep/Achievement)
- PK: Andrew Verre (Xavier)
- P: Christopher Jean-Pierre (Valley Regional/Old Lyme)
- KR: Enyce Walker (East Hartford)
COACH OF YEAR
Mike Drury (Southington)
Finalists: Tim King (Valley Regional/Old Lyme) and Jeff Roy (Shelton)
PLAYER OF YEAR
Mark Piccirillo QB (Shelton);
Finalists: Zach Allen, TE/DE (New Canaan), Jasen Rose, QB (Southington)