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2011 Year in Review. January 24. Tsopanides earns way into '29 Club.

POSTED December 20, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON-When Torrington football fans think back on the career of one Dean Tsopanides, a  scene that repeated itself before each game sums up what kind of player this talented senior was. 

Before the two teams made their way to the fifty-yard line for the coin toss, Tsopanides could be seen about five yards in front of his teammates on the field with an intense look towards the oppositions sideline.

Nothing was said nor motion made; just one intense stare that let the other team know that day that Tsopanides and his mates were ready to do battle.

On Saturday night at the Annual 1929 Football Club dinner, held at P-Sam’s in Torrington, Tsopanides (an offensive and defensive lineman), earned the ultimate award a Raider football player could get as he was inducted into the club.

The award, which started back in 1939, is a tribute not only to the current years player but to the group that won the State Championship back in 1929 when they recorded a perfect season.

This award doesn’t always go to the player with the biggest stats; the big picture is taken into account when deciding which player gets to join this prestigious club.

His academic standing, interest in continuing his education and potential football career at the college level are also considered.

To the second point, playing at the next level, Tsopanides has a local university with a new coach in mind.

“I hope to be able to get to try out at UCONN,” Tsopanides said, “With the new coach, Paul Pasqualoni being from Connecticut, I hope I can get a look.”

Three years ago, Tsopanides was one of the players that caught the eye of then first-year head coach Dan Dunaj.

“Dean has been a huge part of the success we have started to have at Torrington,” Dunaj said, “He is an intense player who puts the time in away from the field as much as anyone does.”

Getting this award meant more to Tsopanides than some of the State accolades he has received because of who he is getting it from.

“You go to State award banquets where you sit with people you have never met,” Tsopanides said, “Here, I am with Torrington natives who bleed Red Raiders red like I do.”

His last season played out as about as well as it could have; a 7-3 record capped off by a resounding 34-7 trouncing of Watertown on Thanksgiving Day.

Going into the season, Tsopanides, one of the three captains the Raiders had this year, and his teammates had a goal.

“We came into the season with a mindset that we were going to do something special,” Tsopanides said, “Something that hadn’t been done in Torrington for a long time.”

It all started with a trip to East Lyme in week one. Scheduling a tough team that had been to a state final the year before wound up being a critical win for the Raiders.

Not only did the Raiders come away with a 20-14 upset, they would find themselves a running back in Brenden Lytton, who would turn in a record season on the ground behind Tsopanides and company.

“I had no idea what to expect from Brenden,” Tsopanides said, “He came in when Zack (Schebell) got hurt and turned out to be unbelievable. I knew he was tough and worked hard all year.”

The talented Raider is busy these days being a one-man wrecking crew on a one-man wrestling team.

Tsopanides practices with the Oliver Wolcott Tech wrestling team as the only member of the THS team and sports a 17-1 record as of Saturday night.

The future, which most assuredly will be a positive one for one of the best young men you will ever come across, has Tsopanides looking at UCONN and several other Division I schools.

“I think I can play at the D-I level,” Tsopanides said, “Maybe at a Rhode Island or somewhere like that.”

If this most recent recipient of the 1929 Club Award says he wants to do something, it’s save to say it will happen.

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