The Providence Gridiron Club’s list of legends increased last Wednesday evening at the Quonset ‘O’ Club in North Kingstown, where the 67-year-old football social and dinner club held its annual Awards Night.
Five people with ties to three Warwick schools were among those honorees who received prestigious awards during the program, the 19th consecutive such event that the Providence Gridiron Club has held to honor this state’s best in amateur football.
“The Providence Gridiron Club takes great pleasure in these presentations,” Dick Fossa, the club president and head football coach at Narragansett High School, told a crowd of nearly 200 people. “It’s not football season, but we’re thrilled to honor 10 players and five coaches, as well as to preserve and further enhance our great game here in Rhode Island.”
Bishop Hendricken’s two-time All-State lineman Max Heintzelman, the 6-3, 290-pound senior who recently received a scholarship and signed to play at Bryant University beginning in the fall, was the lone player honored from the Hawks’ two-time defending state championship team.
Heintzelman, who has also been selected to the Rhode Island All-Stars squad that will play the Connecticut All-Stars in June in the annual Governor’s Cup, was one of five players who received the Jack Cronin Division I High School Lineman of the Year honor.
Derek Durand, a running back who played for Toll Gate High’s Titans this past fall, received the Division II-B High School Back of the Year. He has yet to announce his future plans.
Another former Toll Gate Titan – Eric Anderson who is now the head coach at South Kingstown – was honored as the Division I Coach of the Year.
“Eric does a great job at SK,” said Fossa, whose Mariners are part of a tremendous South County rivalry versus the Rebels. “His teams are sometimes overmatched, but the Rebels are always a tough team to beat.”
Yet another former Toll Gate High star – Doug Johnson – was honored for being selected as the University of Rhode Island football Rams Most Valuable Player during the 2011 season. Johnston was also honored by the PGC after his outstanding senior season with the Titans as a running back/linebacker back in 2008.
The fifth person with ties to Warwick schools football was Emo DiNitto, who among his many accomplishments was the one-time head coach at Bishop Hendricken and later Toll Gate.
DiNitto, who is president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, was honored with the Lawrence P. “Larry” Gallogly Humanitarian Award.
Fossa told the Warwick Beacon that DiNitto was honored for his many, many outstanding contributions to football as an educator, coach and administrator. He also coached Bishop Hendricken to the school’s first state football championship back in 1963.
The late Gallogly, who was a one-time insurance executive and part-time copy editor at the Providence Journal, unselfishly contributed to many people and organizations in the state’s athletic community for many years.
The Lou Cimini Officiating Award went to John Abbate, president of the Rhode Island High School Football Officials Association. The late Cimini was a long-time hockey coach at La Salle Academy.
The prestigious Gilbane Awards, which go to the overall winners after the respective Division I, II-A, II-B, III and IV have been named, were: Mike Washington, Central, Player of the Year; Frank Wiley, Middletown, Lineman of the Year; Mike Kelly, Chariho, Coach of the Year; and Josh Morris, La Salle, Back of the Year.
All of the Gilbane Awards are selected by the Providence Gridiron Club’s Executive Board. Those members are: Jim Anderson, Burliegh Brigs, Tom Centore, Bud Conley, secretary; Dick Fossa, president; Charlie Gibbons, Charlie Holdredge, Joe Magliocco, vice president; John Merolla, Tom Milewski, treasurer; Jim Norman, Tony Rainone and Clint Robertson.
For more information or membership to the Providence Gridiron club please see the website: www.providencegridironclub.org.