Derby Athletic Hall of Fame

Congratulations to the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame Sixth Class

Red Ahearn ' 29

One of the greats from the "Nuggy" Ryan coaching era. Red Ahearn was among the early three-sport standouts in Derby High School history. Coached by Ryan in football, basketball and baseball, Ahearn was a team leader in so many ways.

On the diamond, Ahearn was an exceptional pitcher, recording the first no-hitter in Housatonic League history, a dominant 16-0 victory over Stratford. Ahearn fanned 14 batters in the process, and helped his own cause at the plate that day, lashing 3 hits and scoring a league-record 6 runs for the Red Raiders. He also set a Housy record with an astounding 22 strikeouts versus Wallingford. Against Milford, Red faced one batter more than the minimum, striking out 17 and allowing only one hit in a 5-0 Derby win. He was also an excellent batter, leading the team in runs scored and batting 325. Big Red won back-to-back Housy titles in 1928 and '29, due in large part to Red Ahearn's dominance on both sides of the ball.

Ahearn's versatility as an athlete was probably best demonstrated on the football field, where Red excelled on offense, defense AND special teams. He led the charge as Derby won consecutive Thanksgiving games against Shelton, both in convincing fashion. The Red Raiders prevailed in 1927 by a score of 24-6, with Red scoring two TD's, including a 50-yarder running the ball. The following season, Ahearn accounted for all 3 scores in a 19-0 victory over the Gaels at Lafayette Field, including the second half kickoff, in which he zigged and zagged his way to the end zone, leaving a trail of would-be Shelton tacklers in his wake.

Against Ansonia that year, Red did it all: played quarterback, defense, kicker, punter, and scored the game's only touchdown in Derby's 6-0 win over its archival. The Chargers never made it past the Derby 30-yard-line all day. The Red-Raiders won the Housy title that year and Ahearn was one of three Derby players voted to the 1st-team All-Housy squad.

Ahearn also was a team leader on the hardwood. He finished in the top-3 in scoring two years in a row for Coach Ryan's Red Raiders. His prowess on the field and on the court earned him the honor of DHS Class Athlete in 1929. Red was recruited by Georgetown University to play baseball, and continued his winning ways at the next level. Red Ahearn was an all-around talent, and truly and all-time great.

Eddie McManus '71

When Lou DeFilippo refers to someone as a "coach on the field," you know he must be something special. In an era of football dominated by running backs and defense, Ed McManus scored 9 touchdowns his senior year as a sure-handed tight end, a tremendous feat helping to cement his reputation as an outstanding two-way performer.

As dominant as he was on offense (some referred to him as un-attackable), he was just as much a handful on the other side of the ball (un-blockable, as many described him). His 13 sacks in a season (5 against archival Ansonia) are a testament to his prowess at the defensive end position, where he started for two years. His All-State, All-Valley and All-Housy selections helped pave the way as he took home the Albarella Trophy senior year.

A pillar of strength on the basketball court, McManus was a double-digit scorer. He also led the team in rebounds, proving equally formidable as a two-way threat on the hardwood as on the gridiron. His leadership on both fronts helped earn him a place among the greats of Derby High athletics.


Bunny Baczek '70


Most sports fans will tell you that a quarterback's #1 job is to win the game. The only stat that matters is W's. A great QB is the engineer of the train. The rest follow his lead. He may not have the flashy numbers, but he gets the job done. During Bunny Baczek's tenure as the Derby signal-caller, the Red Raiders did not lose a game, capping their historic run with the #1 ranking in the '69 New Haven Register football poll.

It's not as if he was just a game manager, however. In that championship season of 1969, Bunny threw for 17 scores to balance an offense that relied heavily on the run game. One of the highlights of the season came against Valley rival Seymour. The Wildcats led 18-0, but Baczek led the comeback as Big Red responded with 28 unanswered to win going away, keeping the perfect season intact. As if that weren't enough, he also made All-Housy on defense that year, averaging an astounding 8 tackles a game. On Thanksgiving Day, Baczek was named as the MVP Silver Turkey award winner in the Raiders' 15-6 triumph over Shelton.

As a basketball standout, Baczek was basically a quarterback on the court, leading by example as the Red Raiders fought their way to the State semifinals. He had an affinity for hitting the clutch shot when the team needed it most. As in football, his numbers may not have blown you away, but no one could deny his ability to do whatever it took to win the game.


Brian Pagliaro '74

Two-way standouts are fairly common in high school football but quarterbacks who dominate on the other side of the ball are a rare breed indeed. Derby has had a few over the years, and one of the best was Brian Pagliaro. As a starter, Brian led Big Red to back-to-back undefeated seasons and a #1 State ranking in 1973.

As the leader of an offense that rarely needed to play all four quarters, Pagliaro had some of his best games against the toughest competition. Especially noteworthy are his performances against Cheshire and Ansonia during his junior year. The Rams and Red Raiders both came into their late-season clash undefeated and eyeing the Housy crown. On the strength of 3 Pagliaro touchdown passes - and his stellar play on defense - Derby prevailed 21-14.

Against the #4 Chargers that season, Pags led #10 Big Red to a convincing 40-21 victory with a pair of TD tosses. On defense, Brian had an impressive 8 interceptions, among the top defensive performances in school history.

Senior year saw more of the same. The first unit was so dominant on both sides of the ball that the starters were often pulled early. Even so, Derby achieved national recognition for its offensive prowess that year. They ranked tops in the State in scoring and were Top 25 nationwide.

Similar to the '72 campaign, the biggest challenges came from Cheshire and Ansonia, with the Red Raiders coming out on top yet again en route to a 10-0 finish. The State title in '73 was the second in a five-year span and Derby's fifth unbeaten season in eight years. As for individual honors, Pagliaro was selected to the All-Housy and All- Valley teams both years.

Dominance in multiple phases of the game is a sure recipe for success on any level. When your quarterback is just as adept at shutting down his counterpart as he is at engineering his own team's high-octane attack, it is no wonder the Red Raiders were 20-0 during its two seasons with Brian Pagliaro under center.



Linda Binkowski '79

Girls' high school sports was still a novel concept in the late '70s. Title IX was in its infancy, and not all schools were able to field a team let alone develop budding stars. Derby was one of the schools that was able to buck this trend, due in large part to multi-sport sensation Linda Binkowski.

"Binky", as she was affectionately known, was the driving force of Coach Bev Moran's  Red Raiders, becoming the school's first female 1,000-point scorer. During her amazing senior season, Binky averaged over 20 points and 8 rebounds a game, including a 30-point outburst versus Valley rival Seymour and several other games in which she tallied in the high 20's. Among her career basketball honors, she was All-Valley 3 times, All-Housy honorable mention twice, All-New Haven County Class M and S, multiple scholar-athlete awards and the Callaghan Trophy winner.

As a softball standout, Linda helped build  the foundation for what would become one of the best in the state for years to come. She earned first team All-Valley and second-team All-Housy at second base.

Her leadership, talent and work ethic inspired many generations of girls who came after her, many of whom may may not have made the effort if not for pioneers like Binky blazing the trail ahead of them


Tommy Palmieri '73

Lightning quick and as tough as they come, Tommy Palmieri was hard to catch - and even harder to bring down. A two-sport star in the early '70s, Tommy led each of Derby's track and football teams to some of its highest heights

As a sprinter, Palmieri was at or near the top in nearly every race he entered, graduating with the school record for the most Top-3 finishes in the 100 and 200 yard dashes. He helped lead the '73 squad to a 9-5 record, their best in over a decade.

That same speed lent itself to sustained success at the running back position. Tommy earned playing time his sophomore year, and never looked back. He had some of his biggest games against the biggest rivals, including a 130-yard performance in a comeback win versus Seymour, 138 yards and the game-clinching 76-yard TD against North Haven and nearly 100 yards and a touchdown in a hard-fought win over Ansonia. He also tallied an amazing 15 touchdowns to lead the '72 Red Raiders to a perfect  10-0 record.

For his efforts, Palmieri was named to two All-Valley and two All-Housy squads, and made 2nd-team All-State. He finished with the most rushing yards in school history, breaking the record in his final game at Ryan Field.



Tracy Gasiz '84


It's been said that hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. Tracey Gasiz personified the rare combination of both work ethic and talent, making her one of the most decorated athletes in Derby High School history.

Tracey was not only a four-year standout in basketball, she started every single game as a freshman, and never looked back. She was the team's leading scorer right from the get-go, and was near the top in rebounding as a rookie, securing All-Valley honors in the process. From there on, she continued to lead the Raiderettes in both categories each of her three remaining years.

For her efforts, Gasiz was recognized as first-team All-Housy and All-State in 1982, 1983 and 1984. She became only the second girl to eclipse the 1000-point barrier, ending her amazing career with a school record 1,206 points.

Gasiz was also a tremendous leader on the field during her stellar career as a softball player. She finished her four-year run with a school-record .450 batting average and the most RBIs in Derby history. As in basketball, Tracey was a three-time All-State and All-Housy performer. In addition to dominating at the plate, she was a fantastic pitcher. Junior year, Gasiz hurled a no-hitter against Sheehan, and helped her own cause with a second-inning home run.

As captain of both sports, Tracey led by example and helped make those around her better. Nobody outworked her, and few were as talented. Combine the two, and you have a career for the ages - and induction into the DHS Hall of Fame.

                                                   Jeff Rice '85


If you look up the word "workhorse" in the dictionary, there's a pretty good chance you'll find a picture of Jeff Rice next to it. During his tenure as the star of the Red Raider backfield, Rice symbolized the ground-and-pound approach for which Derby was so well-known. He averaged 35 carries a game his senior year, including an amazing 45-carry, 300-yard effort in the win over Seymour, known affectionately as the Fog Bowl.

An opponent compared hitting Rice to stepping in front of "a freight train running downhill" who loved initiating contact rather than trying to avoid it. Jeff played 3 years of varsity ball, starting as a junior and senior. He finished the '83 season with over 1,100 yards rushing, and accumulated over 3,000 during his stellar career at DHS. Rice was one of those special players that everyone on the opposing team was aware of - and feared. Coaches and defenses worked feverishly to figure out how to contain #48. Few - if any - were ever successful.

A two-time All-Housy selection and Albarella Trophy winner, Jeff Rice steamrolled his way into Red Raider lore, and now takes his rightful place in the DHS Athletic Hall of Fame.


Jimmy Lewis '87

On the track and on the field, Jim Lewis had a knack for taking his game to the next level. The same lightning-quick speed that propelled him to dominance in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, helped him leave defenders in the dust on the gridiron. His excellence in each sport led to his being named captain of both.

His junior year, Lewis helped lead the charge as part of a potent 1-2 punch in the Derby backfield alongside Marc Orchano. For his part, Jimmy ran for 750 yards, including a 4-touchdown performance against Sheehan and a long TD burst in the Class S championship win over Immaculate.

During his senior campaign in 1986, Lewis ran for over 1200 yards and earned Player of the Game honors versus both Seymour and Ansonia, a game in which he lugged the ball 40 times for 226 yards.

The Seymour game was a back-and-forth affair. before Lewis broke loose for the game-winning ID with less than 2 minutes to play. He took home the prestigious Albarella trophy for the Class of 1987.


Dave Stec '02

"I knew he was special." High praise indeed from a senior captain toward a freshman. Fellow Hall of Famer Anthony Marcucio ('99) could tell early on that Dave Stec was championship material. His work ethic and commitment to helping others become better propelled the program to its zenith over the course of the next four years.

Although Derby's wrestling program was already well-established, and had its fair share of champions over the years, the three-year stretch from 2000 through 2002 was its most dominant to date, in large part due to Stec's leadership and personal achievement. The Red Raiders earned three consecutive Class S state championships, and Stec won his respective weight class each of those three years, after finishing runner-up as a freshman. When Connecticut initiated freestyle and Greco-Roman competition in 2000, Dave, having mastered both, won titles in each division.

He compiled an overall record of 137-15 (a .901 win percentage). In addition to his 3 Class S titles, Stec was a two-time SCC champ, two-time State Open champ and was named an honorable mention All-American by USA Wrestling Magazine.

Like any wrestler, Dave Stec took his lumps at the beginning, but unlike most, he pushed through it and became a team captain himself, leading by example and encouraging others to achieve their best. It's hard sometimes to live up to expectations. Stec's career, however, was one that went well above and beyond them.

 Bill Pucci Service Award

Joe Musante

He’s done it all…… first coach to ever take the UNH softball team to the NCAA tournament, eventually guiding that program to a record setting 40 wins. The list of accomplishments are unbelievable… coach of the year, an average of 30 wins a year for 6 seasons, who could forget the job he’s done as pitching coach with the Seymour softball program…. Helping them win several championships….. and as impressive as that is, what he did as pitching coach of the Derby softball program is even more remarkable.

Everyday for over 10 years, he volunteered his service to the lady red raiders, helping so many pitchers become all Housy, all valley, all state, state champions, college pitchers, you name it, he played a very big part in the history of that program. The amount of hours he donated his time year in and year out will never be forgotten…. The Derby Athletic Hall is proud to announce Joe Musante as this year's Bill Pucci Service Award recipient.


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