Andrew Jenkelunas, Nick Carducci, Tommy Seaver, Greg Marzilli
Every once in a blue moon a high school sports team comes along and captures the imagination of an entire town. The team must was have a unique combination of talent, charisma, and selflessness. The town of Rocky Hill has been fortunate enough to have a high school football team that fits all three criteria.
The Rocky Hill football season came to an end on Saturday, but the legend of the team will live forever. They finished better than any team in school history and it was in large part because the players on the team had a noticeable rapport with one another, which was evident by their tremendous success on the field.
Four of those players have been playing football together for two-thirds of their lives and during their time together became inseparable, on and off the field. Andrew Jenkelunas, Greg Marzilli, Nick Carducci, and Tommy Seaver have a twelve year bond that started as fiends, but developed into a brotherhood.
Their friendships and their love for football began in their hometown of Rocky Hill, but the town did not have a youth football program when the four began playing together. In order to play organized football, the foursome would commute to Newington and played pee wee football for the Newington Knights.
While playing youth football, the four known in the community as the “Newington Boys”, found early success. In 2006, while in in the fifth grade, the four helped the Knights win the Jr. Pee Wee New England Championship. The regional victory allowed them to travel to Florida and compete nationally for the Pop Warner Championship, which featured the best youth teams from around the nation. The four agree that this accomplishment was the best moment of their early football days.
“That whole year was the best experience of my life because it’s where I made life long relationships with players and coaches, as well as learning the fundamentals and true nature of a successful football team.” Marzilli said.
The four have been mentored by several great coaches over the dozen years, including current head coach Dave Coyne. Jeff Perillo, who coached the group in middle school and is currently a defensive assistant on Coyne’s staff at Rocky Hill, is another coach that has impacted the players lives.
“Coach Perillo has had a huge influence on me. He coached all of us in 8th grade and I think that is when we first started becoming really close,” Jenkelunas said, “He gave me the opportunity to play on varsity as a freshmen, which really helped me mature as a player.”
The foursome was also were coached by Ron Duke, who was a coach for the Knights during their championship season in 2006.
“Coach Duke coached us for four years and taught us endless techniques that make us the football players we are today,” Carducci said, “He taught us how to be resilient and remain poise in the face of adversity.”
With the guidance and help of their coaches, the four developed individual skills that allowed them to flourish as players and become vital parts of Rocky Hill’s most successful football team in school history.
Jenkelunas is the field general, both offensively and defensively. He has been described as the glue that kept the team together and he has a football IQ that is second to none. Not only is he blessed with a rocket right arm, but he is calm under pressure and thrived during tense situations all season.
Marzilli is the jack of all football trades. He is the teams’ change-of-pace running back, linebacker, and is one of the state’s best placekickers. Throughout games his name was heard over the loud speakers, early and often, for making game changing plays-- offensively, defensively, and on special teams.
Carducci is the heart and soul of the team. He is certainly not the biggest player of the field, but he’s a versatile offensive lineman and is known for delivering bone-crushing hits from his linebacker position. There is rarely a play on defense in which Carducci is not around the football.
Seaver is the enforcer. He is a fierce pass rusher and possesses the rare ability to cover backs and tight ends from his defensive end position. He also is Jeneklunas’ go-to guy in the passing game, where he catches the ball effortlessly and seems to love contact, often lowering his pads to run through would-be tacklers.
As good as they’ve been on the field, they are just as grounded and well-rounded off of it.
“Football may be a game to many people, but for us it's so much more than that. It taught us resiliency, teamwork, leadership and most importantly how to conduct ourselves as men on and off the football field.” Carducci said, “The bonds I built with Greg, Andrew, and Tommy from playing football are much more comparative to a relationship that brothers have rather than friends.”
“We’ve been best friends for as long as I can remember and we’ve pretty much done everything together. Our families go one vacation together, we play other sports together, we workout with each other, we hang out on the weekend together, and were in a lot of the same classes.” Marzilli said, “You would think we’d get sick of each other after so long, but it hasn’t happened yet and I doubt it will.”
They also recognize how much support they have been given over the years from family and friends.
“Since day one we’ve been a big family and I’ve had the support of four sets of parents.” Marzilli added, “In the end, it’s the memories that matter and I would never trade the ones I’ve captured with these boys and their families for anything in the world.”
Now that the football season has come to an end and their time at Rocky Hill High School dwindles down, the four will began to go in different directions for the first time in over a decade. However, whether they’re miles apart or next door to each other they will always share a connection that is unlike any other.
“Football can create friendships and a family unlike anything else,” Seaver said,
“I know we will always have each other’s backs long after we play our last game on the field together.”
“I am sure we will always be close and have a bond that is inseparable because of the experiences we have had together.” Jenkelunas added.
Despite not achieving their goal of winning a state title, the four will continue to have a special connection that only brothers can have. Because individually they are great, but together they’ve become family.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin