Keeping in Touch
March 18, 2010
Stephan Neville '12 encourages Foxboro High School football team at banquet
By James Schneider
It was a first at the Foxboro High School football team's year-end banquet this Sunday at Lakeview Pavilion at Foxboro.
For years, head coach Jack Martinelli has been inviting former players to serve as guest speakers at the banquet, to impart some knowledge to the assembled high school athletes. But never before has that guest speaker been this young.
Just two years ago Stephan Neville (pictured above with Martinelli; photo by Bill Stedman) was a high school senior, himself sitting at the year-end banquet after a successful football year. This year, Neville, a sophomore at Stonehill College, was chosen to talk to the assembled crowd at Lakeview.
"It was really an honor," Neville said after the banquet. "(Martinelli) tries to bring back people who have had success once you get out of high school. It was awesome. I was really excited to do it when he asked."
Martinelli doesn't normally ask someone still in school to speak to his team. In fact, Neville is the youngest speaker he's ever had. But looking at the Foxboro native's resume, it's not surprising Martinelli chose him.
In just two years at Stonehill, Neville has made his mark. Last year he was selected to the Northeast-10 Conference all-rookie team. This year, Neville did even better than that, he was named first-team all-conference as a cornerback and a returner, leading all of Division II football in kick return average and touchdowns.
"Just coming from Foxboro High, we all work through what we get," Neville said. "We're a very successful program and it's all about putting in the hard work when you're not on the field and I think that's what contributed to my success."
So Martinelli wasn't hesitant at all to pick the youngest guest speaker in the banquet's history. And his faith in the former Warrior certainly paid off.
"I knew he would be excellent, but he was even better than that," Martinelli said after the banquet. "He was unbelievable really. His message was a great message for the entire community."
Neville talked of the road he took to Foxboro High School. Moving from Georgia, he was a newcomer trying to find his place in a new community. And while it might have been tough at times, Neville never gave up, and now finds himself excelling at college football.
"It was a good testimony to the town of Foxboro and the school system," Martinelli said.
Of course, there was more to the banquet than just the guest speaker. It was a day to celebrate a Foxboro High football team that helped to 'Restore the Roar,' responding to a 3-8 season last year with a 7-4 campaign this time.
"The 2009 team prepared more diligently than any other team before," Martinelli told the assembled crowd. "Twenty-three seniors stuck together through thick and thin."
Senior captain Mike Delaney was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for his role both offensively (as a running back) and defensively (as a safety). The senior will be playing football at UMass-Amherst next year.
Luke Soccorso was named Defensive Player of the Year after a great year at linebacker for the Warriors. The senior will play football at Curry College next year.
Wide receiver and defensive back Ty Spencer took home two awards, the Unsung Hero and the Foxboro Cable Access Ellsworth Award. Zach Hadge, who will play at Springfield College next year, was named the offensive lineman of the year.
Senior captain James Carew was the recipient of the Vin Igo Coaches' Award. Carew was the last of a long line of captains from his family.
Senior Jeremiah Washington was given the Tony Williams Courage Award.
"It usually stands for somebody that has endured some adversity not only on the field but in life in general," Martinelli said after the banquet. "It's always been testimony to Tony's rehabilitation. Jeremiah kind of turned his life around with dedication to playing football and doing well in school with the help of the great family of the Slabys."
J.P. Slaby was given the Jay Crowley Memorial Award, given to a player that excels on the field and in the classroom. Matt DeFazio was given the MIAA Sportsmanship Award, Nick Bronsdon was awarded the Defensive Back Award, Eddie Noonan was the Defensive Lineman of the Year, and Joe McGahan was named Most Improved.
At the end of the day, Martinelli reminded the crowd that this team is, in a way, the end of an era. The Hockomock League will add a 10th team in Attleboro next year and split into 'Large' and 'Small' divisions, meaning this team was the last to play in the Hockomock League as we know it.
"I don't think that sunk in to anybody, but it really is," Martinelli said.
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