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1929 Club welcomes Brenden Lytton

POSTED January 15, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                        1929 Club welcomes Brenden Lytton 


          TORRINGTON – Brenden Lytton joined a very exclusive, elite group Saturday night with his induction into Torrington’s 1929 Football Club at P-Sam’s Banquet Hall.  How exclusive? How elite? How special?

            Listen to the 1995 recipient of the award, Nick Spino, who reminded everybody at the end of the dinner what it means to be a 1929 Club member.

            “The glitz and the glamour (of the award) don’t go away.  Dan Jacobs who won the award in 1976 lost his trophy moving or something 20 years ago. It got broken, something happened to it.  I managed to get him a replica trophy this year and gave it to him for Christmas. We saved it for the last present he opened.  You want to see a grown man break down? This is not just about high school. It is a special to be a member of this club.”

            Lytton is coming off one of the great seasons and careers in Torrington High history with 2,353 yards and 29 touchdowns. He ran through, over and around defenses, an unstoppable force more to be endured instead of stopped. He earned All-NVL and All-State honors and is now the source of all comparisons for any future THS running back. He has set the bar unearthly high.

            The criteria for the club is good academic standing and performance; an interest in continuing his education and potential football career to the college level, excellent leadership qualities, a strong work ethic, self-discipline and a positive attitude towards scholastics, athletics and fellow teammates.

            Lytton, who is leaning towards Southern Connecticut for college, was a no-brainer when it comes to this pick this time around. His numbers speak for themselves. His character others spoke about - "He's not just a great player, he's a great kid," said THS football coach Dan Dunaj.

            Nattily dressed in an argyle sweater the rugged running back was his usual self in accepting the award – short and to the point thanking coaches and people who helped him rewrite the record book and earn the honor.

            Fresh off a trip earlier in the day with Torrington High football coach Dan Dunaj to the Walter Camp Foundation “Breakfast of Champions” in New Haven honoring All-State selections, the soft-spoken star knew this was more than an end of the season honor.

            ‘”It’s a real good feeling,” he said. “Everybody is here from the last time Torrington won a championship. It’s a great feeling knowing that they elected me.”

            While Lytton knew in his mind what the honor meant, he received firsthand experience that while the numbers reflect a season, the 1929 Club is about a lifetime. All he had to do was look around the room.

            There was the ageless Anthony `Whitey’ Kunkiewicz the second recipient of the award in 1940. That was 72 years ago. Talk about connecting the past to the present. Kunkiewicz, still looking like you don’t want to mess with him or if you do you had better call for help and then still say a prayer, still has a handshake that speaks of strength and pride.

            Mr. Kunkiewicz, and I will call him that because he deserves it, comes every year because his experience on the eve of World War II was important and so is the club that brings together so many of the eperiences from different generations.  

            They were all Red Raiders whether a war was going on, Elvis was dancing in blue suede shoes, Woodstock was going on, Reagan was starting a revolution and the World Trade Centers fell. The maroon and white with the T on the helmet, is the tie that binds. And they were the best of the best.

            Ralph Sabia (1942) was there to mix with the likes Carmen Ammirato (1963), Gary Capitanio (1980) and Joe Perusse (1982).

            The `29 Club is more than just a football family for the Carbones and Capitanios. Gerry Carbone (1973) and son Nick Carbone (1999) were there to give out a scholarship to Lytton in the family name. The late Jutso Carbone, father of the duo, had led the way winning the award in 1946.

            When Nick won the award in 1999 I did a story on the trio of Carbone recipients. I still can remember how proud Jutso was, saying he felt that in a sense life’s circle was complete. The tie that binds.

            Gary Capitanio (1980) was joined by sons Jordan (2003) and Nathan (2005). A lot of family pride here. And Brenden now that you are a member of the club you can wear a hat like Jordan was sporting, fedora-like that Capone would have loved.

            All around you felt the connection. Brendan Abbott (1987) from one of Bruce Kasenetz’ teams, big Nick Spino who spoke so eloquently about the award.  Jeff Borghesi (1967) and 2009 recipient Josh Emmett who presented Lytton with his award were there because they wanted to be.

            Steve Denza (2007) with his dad, former Yale great Paul Denza, was there. Mark Cardello (1988) one of the first Red Raiders I met was on hand. We’ve missed a few but Lytton clearly got the message.

They came from all ages from all places from a reservoir of different experiences with one thing in common. They were Red Raider men once, cream of a rugged crop. A season may be the entry ticket, but the 1929 Club has been and always  will be for a lifetime.

Brenden Lytton is one of the all-time greats. Saturday night Gerry Carbone spoke for everybody when he said, “Welcome to the Club.”

It is special, it is for a lifetime.  

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