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Senior captain Vinny DePalma is helping the North Haven football squad gain a ton of yards on the ground this fall through his efforts as a blocking back. (Photo courtesy of Vinny DePalma )
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The North Haven football team traditionally features a run-heavy offense, and the past two years haven’t been any different for the Indians. This season, senior captain blocking back Vinny DePalma is doing an excellent job of paving the way for North Haven’s talented cast of rushers. Vinny says it gives him great satisfaction to provide a big block that helps one his teammates make a break toward the end zone.
“To the average football watcher, they don’t really notice a lot of the key blocks that I make, but it’s alright. I’m not expecting praise, but I know when I go out, my job is to protect my runners, my family members,” Vinny says. “I know when I make my block, I’m doing my job. I let them get the praise, and I’m OK with that. It brings me joy that we get in the end zone, and I know they appreciate what I do.”
Vinny constantly studies North Haven’s various blocking schemes and works with his offensive linemen to find ways to create space for the Indians’ running backs. Vinny considers the play, R-48, to be North Haven’s bread and butter. He says it’s his favorite play on which to take out opposing tacklers.
“It’s really just a hard-hitting play. A lot of blockers are on that side of the field, and we can use it against so many defenses, because it’s so versatile,” says Vinny. “Depending on some calls the O-line and the tight end make, my route or angle could be different. Knowing the plays and our communication is a big aspect of our offense.”
Vinny was named one of North Haven’s senior captains for the 2018 season. Vinny was honored to earn that position and enjoys leading the gritty Indians alongside fellow captains Devan Brockamer, Nick Dodge, and Shamus Meehan.
“It really means a lot to be a captain, because our team works so hard. We’re a young team, and it gives me a good challenge,” Vinny says. “It’s good to be a role model and to give good advice to my fellow teammates as they strive to be better. Each captain brings a different aspect to the team.”
Head Coach Anthony Sagnella feels that Vinny makes a great leader for North Haven, because the senior captain is always putting his team first. Sagnella says that Vinny brings a wealth of selflessness and a ton of toughness to the blocking-back position.
“Football is the ultimate game of humility. You have to sacrifice yourself in some way for somebody else to gain. That particular position requires a special individual to play it, and Vinny boasts those tools,” says Sagnella. “He’s a physically strong kid, a tough kid, and he’s a great example for being a team player. He plays very hard all the time and he has a very outgoing personality, so when you combine the two, the team feeds off his energy.”
Vinny, who also plays outside linebacker, prides himself on leading North Haven by example. Vinny works as hard as he can during each practice and every game, and the senior veteran loves it when he sees his fellow Indians following suit.
“I’m more of the motivating captain. I’m the bring-the-juice captain. When they see me playing hard, they say, ‘Vinny is doing that. Why is he and I’m not?’” says Vinny. “This year has really opened my eyes that, as a senior captain, I can help effect somebody else’s career. I’m not much older than anybody else, so for me to put a change on somebody else’s career gave me some perspective to how important my role really is.”
Vinny appreciates the fact that he gets to be part of the North Haven football team’s family atmosphere. Vinny loves everything about competing for the Indians and believes that the bond of their brotherhood is one of the biggest reasons why they’ve seen so much success on the field.
“I really love the family aspect North Haven brings. It all starts with the coaches, from the youth program to Coach Sagnella. He knows exactly what he is doing and wants us to embrace this family aspect,” says Vinny. “We buy into it and it goes a long way. If you really believe on the field that you’re protecting your brothers, that really helps. It’s all about being brought up the right way.”
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