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West Hartford Scholar-Athletes, Coach Honored at National Football Foundation Banquet

From left: Henry Nace (Conard High School), Bruce Jones (Conard High School), Hall coach Stephen Blanchfield, Simon Levy (Hall High School), and Jack O’Neill (Hall High School). Photo credit: Lisa Levy

Two students from West Hartford’s Conard High School and two from Hall High School were honored Sunday at the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Banquet at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

From left: Bruce Jones (Conard), Simon Levy (Hall), Stephen Blanchfield (Hall), Henry Nace (Conard), Jack O’Neill (Hall), and Cole Popella (Northwest Catholic). Photo credit: Lisa Levy

By Ronni Newton

Four seniors from West Hartford Public Schools, members of the Conard High School and Hall High School football teams, were among the 17 scholar-athletes honored Sunday at the 58th annual Doc Boisoneau Northern Connecticut Chapter National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Banquet at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

Bruce Jones and Henry Nace were named scholar-athletes from Conard, while Simon Levy and Jack O’Neill from Hall received the honor at the 58th annual banquet.

Jones will attend Carleton College next fall, Nace will attend UConn, Levy will attend Johns Hopkins, and O’Neill will attend Middlebury.

All four were surprised at their schools earlier this year when they were informed by a representative of the National Football Foundation Northern Chapter that they had received the prestigious honor based on their work on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. Nominations are made by coaches, and evaluated “through a rigorous point system by a nine-person scoring committee,” according to DBNCCNFF and CHF President Tim Feschler.

From left: Retired Hall head football coach Frank Robinson, Coach Steve Blanchfield, Simon Levy, Jack O’Neill, coach Burke Martindale, new Hall head coach Steve Markie. Courtesy photo

Bruce Jones (left) with Conard head football coach Matt Cersosimo (center) and Henry Nace were surprised last month when they were named National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. Courtesy photo

In addition, Cole Popella, a senior at West Hartford’s Northwest Catholic High School was also named a scholar-athlete. He is a resident of East Granby.

Honorees have their names listed at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, GA.

From left: Steve Blanchfield, Jack O’Neill, Simon Levy. Photo credit; Lisa Levy

In addition, longtime Hall High School Football coach Steve Blanchfield was honored with the Doc Boisoneau Chapter Contribution to Football Award. Blanchfield, a graduate of the University of Connecticut who earned a master’s in guidance and counseling from Central Connecticut State University, has been coaching since 1973 – and has coached in West Hartford since 1979. He has coached football at Hall since 1989, and during his tenure has also coached boys basketball and girls tennis. In 2022, Blanchfield received the Central Connecticut Association of Football Officials “Friend of Football Award,” which is one of many honors he has received for his coaching of various sports.He was the longtime boys tennis coach at West Hartford’s Conard High School as well, from 1994 until 2022.

The awards were presented by West Hartford native and Conard High School graduate Matt Redman, who was honored as a scholar-athlete by the chapter in 2012 and was recently named head football coach at Avon High School, where he is a special education teacher.

In 2023 there were also four West Hartford Public Schools students named scholar-athletes – Ian Black, Brendan Grady, and Joe Palisi from Conard and Max Jewett from Hall.

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