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The North Haven football program's annual Spring Brawl intra-squad scrimmage fundraiser keeps getting bigger every year and, through the past three years, the event has generated approximately $20,000 for people in need. Indians' Coach Anthony Sagnella hopes this spring's event is the most successful one yet in support of Anthony Longley, a seven-year-old town resident who is battling brain cancer.
This year will mark the 10th time the Spring Brawl has been held and the fourth time it's functioned as a fundraiser. As always, North Haven football's upcoming senior athletes select who to assist with the funds and one of next season's captains, Tom Gallagher, suggested that the 2014 Spring Brawl give a helping hand to Longley and his family, who routinely travel to Boston so the youngster can receive treatment. Gallagher's teammates agreed and so the Longley family will indeed be in attendance when the 10th annual Spring Brawl kicks off at Vanacore Field at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 13. Admission to the event is $5 and other donations can be made by writing a check payable to the North Haven Athletic Department and sending it to: North Haven High School, c/o Anthony Sagnella, 221 Elm Street, North Haven CT, 06473.
"Any sound program needs solid leadership and leadership is more about doing than talking. The town of North Haven has always supported our football program and this is an opportunity for our kids to band together and do something positive for someone outside of the program," said Coach Sagnella, whose event has previously benefited Special Olympics Connecticut, The Benhaven Group Home for Autism, and the late Matthew Jacques. "I'm pleased that this event has grown in awareness and that our community embraces what our kids do. It's a special day and I hope to see a full-capacity crowd."
The contest itself features the Indians' returning athletes playing a full football game against each other under the names Team Maroon and Team White, the latter which won last year by the score of 27-0. In one sense, the Spring Brawl is like any other gridiron game in that it features a full staff of officials, along with North Haven's cheerleaders on the sidelines and the band in the stands, all of whom Sagnella thanks for donating their services. One difference is that the Indians' coaches don't have to worry about the Xs and Os as they can enjoy the action while watching the program's outgoing seniors call the plays. Additionally, each team will be feature a "celebrity coach" as its sponsor. This year, Team White will be sponsored by WTNH News 8 sports anchor John Pierson with WMRQ-FM 104.1 radio disc jockey David Fisch sponsoring Team Maroon.
"John Pierson covered our team last year and got close to our program. He knows the inner workings of North Haven football and so we wanted to include him," Sagnella said. "David Fisch and I participated in a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House and he's a dynamic and enthusiastic personality who told me he'd like to help us out in any way."
Along with Gallagher, a fullback/defensive end, North Haven's two other senior captains are quarterback/defensive back Cole Pecora and tight end/defensive lineman Joe Corniello. The Indians' other seniors who are spearheading this year's Spring Brawl are Kyle Aurora, Jonah Addesso, Stephen Rollier, Colin Ciszewski, Pat Vanacore, Mike McKenna, Hunter Coughlin, Max Medina, Erik Esposito, and Mehdi Azizi.
"Each class of seniors has done a great job of raising money and then they pass the torch to the next group of seniors, who jump on board," said Sagnella. "That's a nice thing to see."