Derby High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Congratulations to the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Click here for video of the introduction of the Class of 2018

Ben Bartone    Heather Beauton   John DeFrancisco   Eileen Duggan

Paul "Itch" Grant   Frank Ishman   Walt Lenart   John Tiano

Ben Bartone '92

Any coach you ask will tell you there’s always one player that he or she wants to take the ball when it matters most. Whether it’s the last shot, the final out or the go-ahead touchdown, if the game’s on the line, everybody knows whose number is getting called. In the early 90’s, more often than not, that number belonged to Ben Bartone.

 A three-year starter in three sports, Ben had a knack for coming up big at the right time.  As a standout defensive back, he finished his stellar football career with 10 interceptions, including 3 in the 1990 State Championship game. Had it not been for a season-ending injury senior year, he may have challenged the school record of 18. During the 11-0 title season, Bartone filled in for injured QB Joe Martin for a couple of games, and kept the streak alive with some inspired play under center. Taking over as quarterback his senior year, he led the Raiders to a 3-1 start, but had to watch from the sidelines as the team struggled down the stretch, winning only two more games the rest of the way.

 After making a full recovery, Ben was ready to resume his role as one of the leaders of the baseball team. Having been a starter since freshman year, Bartone continued to improve each season, both as a hitter and on the mound, earning All-State, All-Housy and multiple All-Valley and All-Area honors. He finished his career with 19 mound victories, including 4 in the postseason.  In the 1992 State Tournament, Ben notched three wins, the most important of all coming in the title game as a reliever.  Other notable achievements include a school-record 18 strikeouts against North Haven, and back-to-back seasons where he eclipsed the .400 mark at the plate.

He also excelled on the basketball court for the Red Raiders, setting a record with six 3-pointers in a game against Valley rival Emmett O’Brien. Whether on the gridiron, the hardwood or the diamond,  when Ben’s number was called, he came through when his team needed him most, helping deliver two State Championships in the process.

Heather Beauton '89

 

Though she played other sports in high school, Heather Beauton is best known for her dominance as a pitcher for the Derby softball team. Whether it was strikeouts, ERA, wins or no-hitters, every aspect of Beauton’s game was top-notch.

As a junior, Heather won 19 games, and struck out 179 batters, including 16 against East Haven. She also hurled two no-hitters that year, one of which was a perfect game versus Seymour. Among her State tournament highlights was a sterling 14-inning performance, beating Putnam on the way to the finals.

She followed that up with another stellar senior season, winning 16 games along the way. Four times that year, Heather struck out at least 12 batters in a game, one of which was against Cromwell in the postseason. In the quarterfinals that year, Beauton had a no-hitter going into the final inning, before giving up two hits in a gruelling 1-0 heartbreaker.

Heather was honored multiple times as an All-State, All-Housy and All-Valley performer, and was featured as MSG’s Player of the Week. She continued her career success at the college level. At Fairfield, she accumulated a 1.18 career ERA, the fourth-best in conference history. Her 0.80 and 0.79 ERA’s in back-to-back seasons are among the all-time best in the Fairfield softball annals. Wherever Heather Beauton toed the rubber, dominance seemed to follow.

John DeFrancisco '64

(Head Baseball Coach 1987-96)

As the son of long-time Derby baseball coach Tony DeFrancisco, it seemed like a natural fit for John to follow in Dad’s footsteps. “D” spent his early coaching career as an assistant under Tom Fahy, winning the 1977 Class S Championship along the way, the first for the Red Raiders in the modern tournament era.

When Fahy stepped down after the ‘86 season, D took the reins, and enjoyed a fantastic ten-year run as head coach. Under John’s guidance, several Derby players earned All-Housy, All-Area and All-State accolades. The 1992 version of the Red Raiders finished the regular season 12-8 before rattling off five straight in the postseason to capture another State Title, the second of D’s coaching career, and first as the head man.

Five times over the years, Coach D led his teams to the tournament. The ‘96 squad, despite finishing in the middle of the pack at 10-10, went on a roll, peaking at the right time.  With the perfect blend of clutch pitching, and timely hitting, they brought home yet another banner for Big Red.

When you couple two state championships as an assistant football coach at the High School, John's five state titles are the most in Derby history.

Following that ‘96 title run, D moved on from coaching, having been around the game for over 40 years.  He was able to create a championship legacy of his very own - one that would make any father - whether coach or spectator -  incredibly proud.

Eileen Duggan '86

As one of five kids, it took a lot of effort to garner attention in the Duggan household. As supportive and close-knit as a family may be, keeping tabs on the exploits of that many young ones is an unenviable task for any parents. Eileen did her part, and then some, becoming a multi-sport star at all levels.

At DHS, Eileen was a top performer on the softball diamond, earning All-Valley, All-Housy and All-State honors both junior and senior years. She was a superb hitter, batting .500 for the 1985 State Champs, and followed that up with a robust .429 the following year.

Duggan was also a leading force on the Derby girls basketball team, averaging 14 points a game, making All-Housy and All-Valley as a senior. She helped lead the Derby squad to the Class S semi-finals, to date the best tourney run in school history.

After graduation, Eileen went on to a distinguished college softball career at Yale. She credits her success at Derby for paving the way to the Ivy League. As a second-generation Hall of Famer - the first in our school’s history - it is safe to say that genetics and the support of a loving family played an even bigger role in her success.

 

 

Paul "Itch" Grant '47

Often compared to Doc Blanchard of West Point fame, Itch Grant was known as Derby’s “Mr. Inside,” one of the finest fullbacks of his day. A punishing blocker, Grant was also a threat to break one, making him one of the team leaders in points scored.

During his four-year varsity career, he brought the same tenacious style to the other side of the ball, as well, earning respect as a talented two-way star. Itch was part of multiple All-Star squads, and was honored as an All-Valley scholar-athlete, proving he was also a dedicated student.

 As a speedy left fielder, Grant was one of the best hitters in school history. His .455 batting average led the team, and he supplied some pop, as well. A well-rounded athlete, Paul also started two years for the basketball team, bringing the same toughness to the court as he always did to the field.

 Itch’s gridiron success at DHS earned him a full ride to Boston College.  He continued his winning ways there, becoming the Eagles’ very own Mr. Inside, opening holes and gaining the tough yards when they needed it.

Frank Ishman '62

Frank Ishman was electric - both on the football field and on the track. Fantastic Frank, as he was known back then, led the charge for the Red Raiders in the early 60’s, helping light the way for future greats who would follow in his footsteps. 

Ishman became the first Red Raider voted to the All-State team in 20 years, in an era when only 11 players made the squad. His 1961 season highlights included an average of over 100 yards per game rushing, along with 10 touchdowns - in only 8 games played. In his second year as a starter, Frank was also named to the All-Valley, All-Housy and Evening Sentinel teams. He was also the winner of the prestigious Albarella Award.

Fantastic Frank made the most of every opportunity to live up to his nickname. Ishman was a top performer for the track team, as well as on the gridiron. He starred as a sprinter in the 220 and the 440, winning several races over his distinguished career.

After graduation, Frank spent several years as an electrician for Yale-New Haven Hospital. Just like in high school, he was the spark plug that helped keep things running, Simply put, he was in charge of providing electricity.

Walt Lenart '41

Big, hard-working, deadly tackler.  That pretty much sums up what everybody thought of Walt Lenart - especially opposing quarterbacks and runners. As captain of the 1940 Red Raiders football squad, Lenart led the team, under coach Nuggy Ryan, to an 8-0-1 record, the Class B title, and a #3 ranking in Connecticut.

Lenart earned his reputation as a bruising lineman who gave it everything he had on every down. In a hard-fought, scoreless tie versus Milford that year, Walt reportedly collapsed from exhaustion, having left it all on the field that day. His heroics also contributed to a rousing victory over Ansonia in yet another defensive struggle, keeping the Lavender out of the end zone, securing a 7-3 win.

A three-sport star and captain, Lenart earned 1st Team All-State, Evening Sentinel and Coaches’ Poll honors in football, spearheading a defense that only allowed 21 points in nine games (Shelton’s only points against Big Red that year came on a safety).

He may not have had an all-time nickname, and, as a lineman, you won’t find him in any record books.  But, anyone who played against him, or watched him dominate game after game, is well aware of who Walt Lenart was, and how hard he worked. When someone uses the word “deadly’ to describe your defensive prowess, do you really NEED a nickname? 

John "Al" Tiano '38

John “Al” Tiano became a three-sport athlete at Derby.  He was a member of the legendary 1937-38  basketball team, nicknamed the Moxie Five. It was this Class B squad that Coach Nuggy Ryan opted to enter into the Class A tournament. Tiano led the Red Raiders in scoring his junior and senior year.

He excelled in track, as well, making his mark in the long jump. However, it is in football that he is most remembered as a former Derby great, who was nicknamed “Al” by his East Derby friends because his running style reminded them of Yale star Albie Booth.

A three-year starter, Tiano was known in the Valley as a triple threat.  John could pass, punt and run, and earned several post-season all-star squad honors.  During his three seasons on the varsity, John’s outstanding play was instrumental in the Raiders earning three straight Housatonic League football titles as well as the 1937 state Class "B" championship..

Upon graduation from DHS, John was awarded a four-year scholarship to Manhattan College,where he played basketball and football. He graduated in 1942.  Although drafted by the NFL, he joined the Army, where he served for four years in the Air Corps during World War II.


Revised story posted on October 25, 2018


Back to Derby Home page                                                                                   winner_logo.jpg (15821 bytes)