John Neider named Walter Camp CT Player of the Year, North Haven's Sagnella named Coach of the Year

NEW HAVEN — Athletes and coaches gathered for the Walter Camp Football Foundation's Breakfast of Champions award presentation on Saturday at the Omni Hotel. 

The 15th anniversary of the award's breakfast was headlined with a speech by Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams of USC. Several Connecticut high school players and coaches were presented awards, including the Inspiration Award, the Joseph W. Kelly Award for the best team in the state, 2022 Coach of the Year, 2022 Player of the Year, and the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Jonathan Law quarterback and UConn commit John Neider was named 2022 Connecticut Player of the Year, adding the award to his trophy case along side his Gatorade Player of the Year selection. 

"It means the world. I know my head coach and teammates really wanted it bad," Neider said. "It is nice that I won it. I am so proud of everything we have done."

Also nominated for the Player of the Year were Joel Barlow's Danny Shaban (The GameTimeCT Player of the Year and also a UConn commit), and Notre Dame-West Haven's Jacob Staton. 

"It was a wild high school career with COVID and everything," Neider said. "But I think this is a nice way to finish it up. It shows all the hard work we have put in together (at Jonathan Law)."

Anthony Sagnella of North Haven was named 2022 CT High School Coach of the Year after leading his team to the Class MM championship, the first state title in the history of the program. 

"I am a bit overwhelmed, the whole season is a roller coaster of emotions and is a rush," Sagnella said. "Then to win it all and to do that for the first time, it takes a while to get your feet back on the ground. It seems like there are banquets and banquets, and we just try to stay focused."

The other nominees for the award were Class SS Champion and Joel Barlow coach TJ Cavaliere, and Ansonia's Tom Brockett, who won the Class S title. 

"This is a huge weekend regardless of winning anything," Sagnella said. "It is awesome to be associated with Walter Camp. And then to be honored as a team and as a coach, it is just unbelievable. When you look at the list (of winners), you see all the great men before us. I tell my players all the time that it is about who came before us, we stand on the shoulders of what they have done. Hopefully in the years to come, I will be sturdy enough for someone to stand on my shoulders."

The Joseph W. Kelly Award for the best team in the state was awarded to Class LL Champion Greenwich and coach Anthony Morello. 

Greenwich finished the season with a 7-2 record, defeating Fairfield Prep 37-17 in the championship game. The Cardinals also finished the season as the No. 1 team in the state in the GameTimeCT Poll

The 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chuck Drury, who has been a coach for 53 years in Connecticut at four different schools. 

Today, Drury is an assistant coach at Southington along side his son, Mike. Drury coached at Bristol eastern for two years, Bristol Central for four years, and Pomperaug for 35 years. He won three SWC titles at Pomperaug and was the Class MM state champion in 2004. Drury won two more state titles with his son at Southington in 2013 and 2014. 

"When you coach this long, there is no one memorable moment," Drury said in his presentation video. "The greatest memory is seeing the boys you coach develop into young men."

The 2022 Walter Camp Man of the Year was awarded to five-time Pro-Bowler and former second overall pick, Tony Boselli. Boselli was a tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was the first player from the organization to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

"It is amazing, I remember coming back here as a college kid. It is quite an honor," Boselli said. "It is such a great organization that promotes and celebrates the game I love."

His message for the athletes in attendance?

"Dream big, but put the actions forward that can make that dream a reality," Boselli said. "Even if you don't get there, there is still a benefit. If you do the right things and put in the hard work, it is going to apply in the rest of your life and you will have success."