North Haven Football Raising Money for Championship Rings
The North Haven Nighthawks football team made history on Dec. 10, 2022, beating the Killingly Redmen in the Class MM State Championship game by a final score of 51-34 to claim their first-ever state title.
Led by 26-year veteran coach Anthony “Tony” Sagnella, the championship roster consisted of 75 players, including senior captain and quarterback Jeffrey Karavas. Karavas has been playing football for North Haven since fourth grade on the youth flag football team.
Winning a state championship for the Nighthawks was a feeling Karavas will never forget.
“It was a really thrilling moment. It was the first time that we won it in school history,” said Karavas. “I have never had a feeling like that before. Playing at Rentschler Field was really cool because it was such a big stadium.”
Senior running back/cornerback, Mateo Raiano, has also been playing football since fourth grade alongside Karavas.
Raiano said being part of a historic moment in Nighthawks football history was surreal.
“It was like a dream, honestly. It meant a lot to the team; we had been dreaming about this game since the season before,” said Raiano. “That was our mission to get to that game, and we did it.”
Sagnella, who holds his own impressive resume from his long tenure with North Haven, felt proud to finally have accomplished the greatest feat a high school athletic program could hope for.
“It’s everything that you hope it would be in terms of the excitement. For me personally, it was awesome to see the town get to enjoy it and the former players, as well as the current players,” said Sagnella. “North Haven is a wonderful community, and they have been behind all of their athletes in all of the athletic programs for as long as I can remember. It has been special, and every year you set out to try and achieve this goal. Some years it is more realistic than others, but you realize that there are several factors that come into play for this to happen.”
The North Haven community went out to Rentschler Field to support the football team, and the atmosphere helped fuel the Nighthawks to victory.
“It was surreal, after the game seeing the student section going crazy. Hugging people, hugging each other, it was awesome,” said Raiano. “Holding that plaque and calling ourselves state champions was pretty cool because it was the first time in state history for us; it was pretty big for us.”
The 75 players on the Nighthawks’ championship roster were: seniors Brian Lastomirsky, Jayden Roby, Declan Finkle, Raiano, Daniel Mark-Thomas, Jeffrey, Salvatore DeMaio, Chayse Mangino, Jayesh Komal, Michael Masto, and Matteo Franschilla, juniors Ryan Bernardo, Camren Thompson, Miles Chester, Eric Vetrano, Connor Rapuano, Trysten Dos, Jake McCreven, Nicholas Harkins, Adam Pandolfi, Daniel Malone, James Studley, Albert Rotondo II, Brendan Ryan, Dillon Songhurst, Nicholas Piscitelli, Alex Gaetano, sophomores Elijah Ellis, Cameron Darcy, Christopher Kottage, Tyler Dimauro, Christian Mongillo, Benjamin Pizzano, Brandon Stevens, Joey Mastroianni, Christopher Cretella, Michael Moran, Brian Moran, Joseph Carbone Jr., Alessio Fraschilla, Cooper Connolly, Aidan McGuire, Russell Keislich IV, Jeffrey Davis, Steven Piccirillo, Adrian Joaquin Santos, and Beckett Fuller, freshman Mehkei Archibald, Aaron Brown, Domenico Carbone, Donovan Dasilva, Christian DeMaio, Emeka Dimpka, Roberto Frunzio, Tanner Gouin, Jeremy Guertin, Colton Kennealy, Rayyan Mahmoud, Chase McDade, Jeremy Morales, Shawn Nesmith, Nathan Ori, Anthony Parillo, Shane Ros, Robert Salvatore, Cameron Samperi, Lucas Santanello, Kevenny Santiago, Jesse Sigmon, Gennaro Violano, and Noah Vitali.
Sagnella was assisted on the sideline by Alec Velardi, Mike Ricciardelli, Keith Wolkovitz, Steve Narracci, Kevin Mozealous, Nick D’Angelo, Matt Manamite, Ralph Anario, Sebastian DeRubeis and Tom Grillo.
Now, to commemorate the victory, parents, coaches, and players are working to raise money to purchase state championship rings. The rings, however, are roughly $340 each.
To lower the cost, parents Maria Porta, Annemarie Karavas, Shirley Rapuano, and Kim McCreven came up with the idea of fundraising for the team.
The Nighthawks are looking for sponsors and advertisers to assist in the funding. Sponsorship levels include a $2,500 Booster Club Sponsorship, a $1,500 Gridiron Club Sponsorship, and a $1,000 Touchdown Club Sponsorship. The Booster Club Sponsorship and the Gridiron Club Sponsorship both include full-page ads in the championship program and tickets to the Saturday, March 18 championship banquet at Anthony’s Ocean View. Sponsorship opportunities between $25 and $500 are also available.
Sagnella emphasized the importance of the support from the community to help raise money so that the cost of the rings will be lowered when each player has to buy them.
“The community has been really supportive coming out and helping the boys out,” said Coach Sagnella. “If we can defray the cost and help a family that may need that, it is a nice honor and something that the kids have earned, something that they have deserved.”
With any championship, there is a variety of players and coaches who deserve recognition for their hard-fought efforts throughout the run, as Sagnella mentioned.
The team is currently 30 percent of the way to reaching its goal of $30,000, having raised $10,000.
In addition to the sponsorships, Porta said that the group has worked on several other fundraising opportunities since the championship game.
“We always do our banquet before so that they can earn their rings. We came up with the idea to sell sponsorships to the banquet, so businesses can be recognized for their support,” said Porta. “We did another apparel fundraiser with a new design for the championship, which was done through our local vendor in town.”
The Nighthawks need to secure donations and sponsorships by March 1, as they will be having their ring ceremony on March 18 at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven at 6 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend the ceremony, and tickets are available for purchase.
Checks can be made payable to “NHHS Booster Club – Football Acct,” mailed to Annemarie Karavas at 27 Pool Rd, North Haven, CT 06473, or Direct Pickup is available. Sponsorships are also payable by Venmo: @ChrisNHHSFootball. Please note sponsorship in the comment. Any questions can be directed to Annemarie Karavas at 203-645-8355.