New Milford football players receive season-ending awards

The 2015 New Milford football team recently celebrated the end of the season with its annual banquet at the Amber Room in Danbury.

The night was held to look back at the season, honor the 13 seniors on the team as well as the All-South-West Conference honorees. The event was sponsored in part by the Green Wave Gridiron Club and was attended by 145 players, coaches and parents. A video montage, prepared by Craig Barrett, was shown during the banquet and is now posted on the Green Wave Gridiron Facebook page.

Two individual awards were also awarded. The inaugural Michael A Rosato Award, named for 1965 freshman Michael A Rosato, who was tragically killed during a hunting trip just after his first season on the team, was awarded to Brian Santivanez. A senior captain offensive lineman, Santivanez was honored for excellence and contribution on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Santivanez was a four-year player, has consistently earned highest honors in the classroom and has participated in many community service projects with the team.

“Brian Santavanez is an awesome young man. He works extremely hard and is an excellent recipient of the award,” New Milford coach Larry Badaracco said. “Brian is everything we want our program to represent. He is a great student, football player, and community member.”

The new Burlsworth Character Award is a national recognition honoring character and sportsmanship. Presented by the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, the 2015 inaugural award coincides with the release of the new movie "Greater,” coming to theaters Jan. 22.

Burlsworth was a 1994 walk-on to the University of Arkansas football team, became captain and earned All-SEC and All-American status in 1998. Drafted 63rd by the Colts in the 1999 draft, he was killed in a head-on collision just 11 days later.

David Carlson is the first Green Wave player to receive the award and will have his name, Badaracco's name and New Milford High listed in the credits of the movie and on the foundation's website. Carlson will also receive a certificate, copy of Brandon Burlsworth's biography and personal message from the foundation’s president, Marty Burlsworth.

“David Carlson is the perfect recipient for the Burlsworth Award,” Badaracco said. “David has excellent character and is a hard-working young man.”

Also presented at the banquet were awards to the "Five Strong,” the five offense linemen who stick their hand in the dirt every day and don't expect much recognition for their hard work and the effort needed to protect the quarterback. Coach Chris Rigdon presented the honor to Matt Carlson, Chris Ryan, Santivanez, Dallas Kelly and Brett Leonard.

Freshman and JV players were presented certificates and first- and second-year varsity players received their letters and pins. Quarterback Tyler Hansen received his third-year varsity player gold bar, and Matthew Ryan and Chris Ryan received their fourth-year varsity gold bars. Junior Alex Pitser and seniors Santivanez, Hansen and Ryan received their captain's star pin.

In conjunction with the banquet, the team held a community service drive to collect new toys and new or gently used coats for New Milford Social Services. More than 25 coats were delivered to the New Milford Thrift Store. Team members also delivered an overflowing bin of toys to Social Services at the Richmond Center.

“As far as community involvement, our football team strives to build strong character and sense of community in our players,” Badaracco said. “We take great pride in being from New Milford and want to represent and support or community in the best way possible.”