NEW MILFORD — Football coach Larry Badaracco is in the process of building a program and he wants it to go beyond the high school. That goal has received a big boost that will hopefully expand the reach of the Green Wave program throughout the town.

The Green Wave Gridiron Club, which was formed in June, held its first Hall of Fame induction ceremony during halftime of the annual Candlewood Cup game against New Fairfield on Thanksgiving.

Badaracco has talked about how the Green Wave players are starting to buy into what he and his staff are coaching and their philosophy over the last two seasons. Now there is a mechanism for the message to reach the youth levels with the gridiron club.

“This gridiron club is a great way for the community to get involved with the football program,” Badaracco said. “I'm excited that the gridiron club has a mission to work with the high school program and the youth program to develop and maintain continuity between all levels.”

The Green Wave Gridiron Club is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the New Milford High School football team and the future of the program. Established to build a championship program and solidify its future, the club’s goals are to help the program through community involvement, recognition of accomplishments and fundraising.

The funds donated will help supply items like new weight room equipment, summer camp sponsorships, game day meals for players and additional training and conditioning equipment for on and off the field.

The Green Wave Gridiron Club’s recognition of accomplishments started on Thanksgiving morning with the induction of former New Milford star Troy Appling into the Hall of Fame.

“The establishment of the gridiron Hall of Fame is great way to honor our past athletes and build some tradition within the football program,” Badaracco said. “It is also awesome to see past players and current players together and building unity.”

Appling, who now lives in Torrington with his wife Kristin, son Caden and daughter Kayli, is a 1994 graduate of New Milford High School. He was a WCC first team all-star and all-state honorable mention in 1993.

After finishing his career with the Green Wave, Appling spent a post graduate year at Milford Academy and then went on to have a stellar career at the University of New Haven. Appling was a member of the Chargers from 1996 to 1999. He was named all-conference in 1996, a preseason all-American in 1997, all-American second team in 1997, all-conference first team in 1998, and received the New England Collegiate Football Writers Association Coca-Cola Gold Helmet Award in 1997,

Appling graduated New Haven in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He then played Arena Football in Greensboro, N.C.,Tulsa, Okla., and Topeka, Kansas.

"I'm more than honored to be inducted and to be the first is special,” Appling said. “I want to Thank the Gridiron Club so much, the whole experience was awesome.”

New Milford was unable to knock off New Fairfield on Thanksgiving morning and regain the Candlewood Cup, but the Green Wave are heading in the right direction, according to their newest and first Hall of Fame member.

“The program is rolling in the right direction and I’d tell the players to work extra hard in the off season and results will come,” Appling said. “Younger kids will see the results and buy in. Set goals. Anyone can be successful if you put your heart in it. It all depends on how bad you want it."