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They’re older, grayer, better — and they’ll meet at New Utrecht HS

September 19, 2022 Andy Furman
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They’re a bit older these days.

The hair – if any – is  grayer.

And they certainly can’t run like they once did.

Nevertheless, close to 100 ex-players, friends and fans are expected Saturday, October 8th when New Utrecht High School stages Alumni Day.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

The Utes will host Bayside at 2 p.m.

“We’ll have an Alumni Breakfast in the cafeteria and our Hall of Fame ceremony – very informal – will get underway around 10 a.m.,” said Tom Ferrante, who played offensive and defensive tackle and captained the Utes in 1988.

Ferrante is one of eight former players to be inducted into the Green and White Hall.

If not for Ferrante, well, there may not be a New Utrecht High School Football Hall of Fame.

“About 10 or 15 years ago,” he remembered, “our coach would reach out to the alums and former players. I’d make some T-shirts to raise some money for the team.”

A former player used to run the Alumni Association; Ferrante recalled. 

That player was Charles Ciccarelli who played on the school’s last championship team in 1958.

“Chic,” said Ferrante, “was in the Class of 1960. He was quite active with the former players.”

But Ciccarelli passed away six years ago from cancer, and Tom Ferrante picked up the pieces and now serves as Chairman of the Event.

“I’ve taken more responsibility,” he told the Eagle the other day. “We have a Hall of Fame in the school, and our history goes back to around 1916 when we were located in Bay Ridge.”

New Utrecht, which won their football opener – 28-6 over FDR – has also installed lights on their field.

“The seating is now mostly behind the end-zones,” he said, “but Friday Night Lights has come to New Utrecht High School.”

So has Alumni Day 2022:

The 2022 inductees:

  • Lenny Hershkovitz: 1961-63. LB. TE. Captain, Three-year starter for some of New Utrecht’s best-ever teams. A member of the ’61 and ’62 powerhouse Utrecht teams that finished only behind Brooklyn Tech. A three-sport athlete in which he excelled in all three – Football, Baseball and Basketball). In ’63 Len’s senior year, coach Sy Rapp started him at quarterback because he was the best athlete on the team. That team went 5-2.
  • Anthony Gennaro: 1968-71 OT/DT Captain. All-City Second Team. After his playing career he volunteered his time by assisting with coaching and scouting for New Utrecht.
  • John Burke: 82-84. Head Coach.  In 1982 he was hired from Tilden High School along with Assistant Coach Peter Sinagra turned a perennial losing program around. In the next four years he would lead the Utes to two Championship games (’84 and ’86). Later, he would move the Utes back up to the A Division and an A Divisional playoff victory followed in ’94. His career record was 57-49-5.
  • Basim Grant: 1991-94. Captain. OT. DT. All-City. A giant at 6-4, 310 he dominated the PSAL on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He was recruited by Joe Paterno and went to play for him at Penn State. If not for a bad injury in college, he would have played on Sunday in the NFL.
  • Tom Ferrante: 1986-88 OT/DT. Captain. A sold two-way lineman and a strong leader he has a love for all things New Utrecht. His involvement in building up the Alumni group, fundraising for the program and knack for bringing people together is recognized and appreciated by the players and coaches – past and present.
  • Posthumous:
  • Sy Rapp: Legendary coach from ’56-’67 who coached New Utrecht to the ’58 Championship and two runners-up in ’61 and ’62.
  • Phil Menna: 1961 G/DT Captain, All-City. Menna was the heart and soul of the ’61-’62 powerhouse teams. He anchored one of the best offensive lines in New York City. He was a bull at 5-9, 230 as well as a technician. He returned to New Utrecht to become a fiery assistant coach in the late ‘60s to mid ‘70s.
  • Phil Katz: 1970 OT/DT All-City Honorable Mention. A four-year letterman, known as “The Ga” by his teammates. A monster on the field but a gentle giant off it. A diehard Ute, after college – playing for coach Allen Leibowitz at Brooklyn College – he returned to New Utrecht to coach six more seasons.

Allen Leibowitz, a member of the New Utrecht Hall of Fame will serve as emcee for the event. A member of the 1958 City Championship team, Leibowitz led the city in scoring. He served as Assistant Coach to Sy Rapp (1965-67) – and he served as Head Coach for the Green and White from ’68-’75. 

From 1985 to 1998 he was the school’s Principal.

Currently, Leibowitz serves as Assistant Football Coach at Byram Hills High School, Armonk, New York. He was a member of the 2021 HOF Class – essentially the first group of inductees).

And how can you forget Peter Sinagra, OT/DT was New Utrecht’s first and only player to be inducted into the HOF in 2019. He was one of the most dominant linemen in the city.

In 1970 he joined the football team, following the footsteps of his older cousin Vinny Sinagra (2021 inductee) who was also a big, dominant lineman.

Sinagra returned to coach New Utrecht alongside head coach John Burke from 1982-1994.

“Players spanning from the ‘50s to today have met during these annual get togethers, and have created brotherly bonds,” Ferrante said.

“We’re all proud Ute brothers who Bleed Green.”

Andy Furman is a Fox Sports Radio national talk show host. Previously, he was a scholastic sports columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle. He may be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @AndyFurmanFSR

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