RYE, N.Y. – Brian Harris was surprised in late December when he learned he was selected to the Westchester Chapter of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame’s Golden Dozen Scholar-Athlete team.
The Archbishop Stepinac standout received another surprise on Thursday night when it was announced he was also recipient of the prestigious Chris Mello Scholar-Athlete Award and Scholarship.
The award, given to one of the Golden Dozen recipients, honors the former Rye High School standout and most outstanding defensive player of the 1993 state football championship game who died in 9/11 when he was a passenger on one of the hijacked planes. This year's recipients were first reported on Dec. 28 in Daily Voice.
Harris learned he won the award following a speech given by Mello’s father, Doug, in the annual dinner at the Westchester Country Club. Instead of making his way to the table to pick up his award, Harris embraced Mello.
Harris, a three-year starter at center and defensive end, was the CHSFL lineman of the year. He has a 92 grade average and is a member of the executive committee of campus ministry, a peer mentor and tutor and coordinator of the school blood drive.
Harris said the Golden Dozen experience ranks among the highlights of his varsity career.
“This is definitely up there,” he said. “It’s a great honor. It’s always great to see hard work pay off.”
The rest of the Golden Dozen team is made up of Mike Amicucci (Harrison High School), Michael Arborn (Tuckahoe High School), Jakob Calvini (Rye Neck High School), Mustafaa Dais (Hackley School), Jim Flaherty (Lakeland High School), Nicholas Kryza (Iona Prep), William Marino (Horace Greeley High School), Eric Meyreles (Yorktown High School), Tyler Miller (Rye Country Day School), Connor Morley (Byram Hills High School) and Chris Santangelo (Rye High School).
“Being Golden Dozen was a huge honor for me,” said Santangelo, who has a 91 grade average. “Coming from Rye it was great to be at an event that honors Chris Mello.”
For Meyreles, winning Golden Dozen was a meaningful way to end a high school career in which he came back strong after suffering a broken foot in Game 1 of the 2013 season. He was named MVP of the senior bowl game and will play collegiately at Wesleyan.
“It was rough,” he said. “It wasn’t what I was expecting. It was a little bit of a wakeup call. But I had a lot of people behind me and with their help and my own perseverance I pushed to get back.”
Golden Dozen second-team selections are: Perry Bakas (Byram Hills High School), Patrick Bathon (Pleasantville High School), Eric Berman (Scarsdale High School), Kourtney Blanding (Woodlands High School), Nick Bonitatibus (Yorktown High School), Declan Borcich (Bronxville High School), Cameron Crabbe (White Plains High School), Justin Davidov (Ossining High School), Austin Fusco (Yorktown High School), Eric Giorno (Mahopac High School), David Hudson (New Rochelle High School), Ari Hymowitz (Irvington High School), Tykeem Jarvis (Lincoln High School), Owen Jones (Bronxville High School), Chris Jordan (White Plains High School), Gregory Lenane (Lakeland High School), Joseph McDermott (Hackley School), Shane O’Malley (Rye High School), Thomas Pipolo (Rye Neck High School), Anthony Rotunno (Westlake High School), Oliver Samwick (Scarsdale High School), Max Theobalds (New Rochelle High School) and Jesse Velleu (Mamaroneck High School).
Steven Joyce, president of the Westchester chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame, announced he was retiring from his position at the dinner. A successor has not yet been named.
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