When former Guilderland football coach Bud Kenyon felt his players needed a jolt of inspiration, he often showed them film clips of Dutchmen who had excelled in previous years.
Kenyon’s favorite reel included a series of plays by the late Ron DeBenedetti, the school’s only two-time most valuable player and the 1968 Thom McAn Award winner.
“That film showed what people could do if they wanted to,” Kenyon said earlier this week. “He was something special. No doubt about it.”
DeBenedetti was not a big running back, in terms of size, Kenyon said, but was fast, strong, shifty and possessed great vision, and he oozed with desire. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder bounced off would-be tacklers, and when gang-tackled, consistently lurched forward for that extra yard or two.
That relentless effort resulted in 14 touchdowns and 758 rushing yards his senior year in 1968. He also kicked 14 extra points that fall and was MVP of the All-Metroland
Division and a Daily Gazette All-Area first-team star.
“When he was in junior high, a doctor suggested he not play because he had a back condition,” said Kenyon. “He wanted to play football, and man, did he play.”
DeBenedetti will be among 14 players inducted into the Capital Region Football Hall of Fame a week from Saturday at Michael’s Banquet House in Latham. Kenyon, a Capital Region Hall of Famer himself, nominated DeBenedetti for the prestigious honor, and he’ll be Guilderland’s first player to be enshrined.
“Whereever I coached, I was blessed with a stable of good running backs,” said Kenyon, who sandwiched stints at Hoosick Falls and Greenwich around his 16-year stay at Guilderland. “He had to be No. 1. He just stood out in so many ways. I’m so proud I got to know that young man.”
Though football was his passion and the sport he later played at Wesley Junior College and Wake Forest, DeBenedetti was also a Section II pole vault champion and sectional runner-up as a wrestler.
“The only thing that kid couldn’t do is play basketball. Going in for a layup, he’d break the backboard,” Kenyon laughed, before adding. “I go back to 1965 with him. He was in one of my phys ed classes, and he was so talented. He could have been a collegiate gymnast.”
DeBenedetti produced seven touchdowns and 11 extra points as a junior on a 5-3 team, and led the Dutchmen to a 5-1-2 record the following season. Guilderland’s only loss that year came in its final game at Scotia-Glenville, 21-13, and cost the team the Suburban Council championship. DeBenedetti ran 67 yards out of punt formation for one touchdown and passed 36 yards to quarterback Paul Begley for another on a fake sweep to give Guilderland a 13-7, second-quarter lead.
“He had a hip-pointer in the third quarter and couldn’t go. I remember him being so upset about that,” Kenyon said of his co-captain. “If Ron was able to play, I believe we would have won the game.”
The Guilderland football field is named in DeBenedetti’s honor. He passed away in 1975 at the age of 25 as a result of a tragic automobile accident, leaving behind his wife Connie and two children.
“In his playing days here, when you looked around the area, his name was everywhere,” Kenyon said of the two-time Suburban Council first-team all-star. “When I see people who played with him, his name still comes up. He was just an infectious guy.”
The third Capital Region Football Hall of Fame class also includes players Ralph Barone (Mohonasen), Justin DeMagistris (Gloversville), Richard Foglia (Watervliet), Sakima Grimes (Cambridge), David Jacob (Shenendehowa), Ted Jornov (Hudson), Adam Lord (Troy), Alex Mancini (Fonda-Fultonville), Jim Manning (Watervliet), Jerry Mirro (St. Peter’s), Ron Page (Mont Pleasant), John Reagan (Bethlehem) and Rudy Vido (Albany); coaches Cliff Lehman (Christian Brothers Academy), Larry Mulvaney (Mont Pleasant) and John Taglione (Mechanicville); and officials Jack Cramer (Capital District), Morris Nassivera (Adirondack) and Thomas Brennan (Capital District). Union College coach John Audino will receive accolades in the Service to Football category.
Contact Nick Fitzgerald (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Hall of Fame ticket information.
Lorch guest speaker
Linton football standout and
finance expert Howie Lorch will be the guest speaker at the Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony Sept. 10 at Proctors Theater.
Lorch was a second-team All-County center on Linton’s 1961 team that won the Class A League title, and served as a basketball manager at the high school and later at the University of Houston. He was inducted into the University of Houston Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008 with the 1968 basketball team that was ranked No. 1 in the country at the end of the regular season.
Lorch was also inducted into the Financial Advisors Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Schenectady City School District Hall of Fame (for notable post-graduate careers/commitment to the community) in 2011. He recently initiated the Howard Lorch Seminar Series at Schenectady High School.
Lou Jordan (Mont Pleasant, basketball), Severino Popolizio (Linton, football, wrestling) and Joe Donato (Mont Pleasant, bowling) make up the newest Schenectady City School District Athletic Hall of Fame class. Tickets for the event cost $50 and are available by calling Bob Pezzano (346-9297).
Spartans best in state
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake earned its fourth consecutive overall title in the New York State Sportswriters Association All-Sport Championship competition.
Five other Section II schools placed in the top five in the overall (combined boys and girls) category, including Class C champion Greenwich. Burnt Hills and Greenwich took the top spots for girls scoring in Class A and Class C, respectively.
Points toward the Kerr Cup standings are earned by schools placing in the top eight in their classes primarily in New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship tournaments and meets. Burnt Hills won outright overall crowns in 2009 and 2010 before sharing the top spot with Cazenovia last year.
A year ago, Burnt Hills set a Kerr Cup record by scoring in nine sports. The Spartans scored this school year in football, boys’ and girls’ cross country, girls’ volleyball, girls’ soccer and girls’ skiing en route to 50.5 points, and beat out fellow Class A school Garden City (48.67).
Shenendehowa (34.17) placed third and Saratoga Springs (25) tied for fifth in the overall Class AA results, Schalmont (22) placed fifth overall in the Class B group, and Fort Ann (24) placed third overall in the Class D field. Shenendehowa scored in eight different sports to lead the competition. Greenwich won its overall Class C title with 35 points, getting those in field hockey, girls’ cross country and softball.
NYSSWA ALL-SPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
COMBINED (boys and girls)
1. Fayetteville-Manlius, 36.33; 2. Penfield, 35; 3. Shenendehowa, 34.17; 4. Baldwinsville, 26.5; 5. (tie) Cicero-North Syracuse, 25; 5. (tie) Saratoga Springs, 25; 5. (tie) Victor, 25.
1. Burnt Hills-Balltron Lake, 50.5; 2. Garden City, 48.67; 3. Cornwall, 39.17; 4. Honeoye Falls-Lima, 38.33; Maine-Endwell, 36.5.
1. Bronxville, 39.33; 2. Cazenovia, 32.33; 3. Aquinas. 25.67; 4. Oneonta, 22.5; 5. Schalmont, 22.
1. Greenwich, 35; 2. Haldane, 27.5; 3. Lansing, 25.33; 4. Friends Academy, 22.5; 5. Randolph, 20.
1. Chazy, 25; 2. John A. Coleman, 24.5; 3. Fort Ann, 24; 4. (tie) Batavia Notre Dame, 22; 4. (tie) Hamilton, 22.
1. Victor, 25; 2. Kingston, 22; 3. Greene Athena, 20.83; 4. Mount Vernon, 20; 5. Shenendehowa, 19.
1. Maine-Endwell, 27; 2. Cornwall, 23; 3. Shoreham-Wading River, 20.5; 4. East Aurora, 20; 5. Garden City, 17.5.
1. Aquinas, 21.17; 2. Holland Patent, 17.67; 3. Oneonta, 17.5; 4. (tie) Broadalbin-Perth, 15; 4. (tie) Cazenovia, 15; 4. (tie) Dobbs Ferry, 15; 4. (tie) Hornell, 15.
1. Lansing, 26.33; 2. Port Jefferson, 19; 3. (tie) Barker, 15; 3. (tie) Lethworth, 15; 3. (tie) Tuckahoe, 15.
1. (tie) Bishop Ludden, 15; 1. (tie) John A. Coleman, 15; 1. (tie) Hamilton, 15; 1. (tie) Sacketts Harbor, 15; 5. Fort Ann, 14.
1. Penfield, 35; 2. Cicero-North Syracuse, 25; 3. MacArthur, 22; 4. Clarence, 21; 5. Fayetteville-Manlius, 18.33.
1. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 34.5; 2. Garden City, 31.17; 3. Honeoye Falls-Lima, 23; 4. John Glenn, 22; 5. North Shore, 19.33.
1. Bronxville, 32.33; 2. Cazenovia, 17.33; 3. (tie) Eden, 15; 3. (tie) Irvington, 15; 3. (tie) Mynderse, 15; 3. (tie) Schalmont, 15.
1. Greenwich, 35; 2. Friends Academy, 21.5; 3. Randolph, 20; 4. Greene, 17; 5. (tie) Haldane, 15; 5. (tie) Hoosic Valley, 15; 5. (tie) Maple Grove, 15; 5. (tie) Tully, 15.
1. (tie) Batavia Notre Dame, 15; 1. (tie) Chazy, 15; 1. (tie) Elba, 15; 4. (tie) Argyle, 10; 4. (tie) Fort Ann, 10; 4. (tie) Northville, 10.
Manly bronze medalist
Kalli Manly of Burnt Hills placed third among 23 pole vaulters Wednesday at the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships at Morgan State University.
The 14-year-old cleared 10 feet in the Youth Girls Division to earn her bronze medal and achieve All-American status.
Samantha Hjelmar of Burnt Hills went 5-1 in the Youth Girls Division high jump to finish 11th out of 54 competitors.
Manley and Hjelmar will be freshman at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School in September.