Welcome to the Guilford High School Touchdown Club website!
As we approach the season this site will be your primary source of information related to the GHS Football team. Throughout the year you will find details related to family registration, annual fundraisers and team activities, schedules and other pertinent details. Check back often to learn about ways to get involved. Thank you!
Moving the Chains Team Clinic - July 6-9
The 2021 Moving the Chains Team Football Clinic will be held July 6-9 at Jess Dow Field on the Southern Connecticut State University campus from 5:30-8PM. Participation is encouraged but not mandatory. Each player will be responsible for registering themselves, paying the fee and securing transportation. For those players who register, Coach Salvati will be handing out equipment beginning on Wednesday June 9 (after team workout).
Please register your player by clicking here. SCSU will be emailing you payment information as we get closer to the event.
Congratulations to our senior players on their commitments to continue their football careers beyond Guilford High School. We are all incredibly proud of your accomplishments and can't wait to watch you perform at the next level.
Evan Chapman - Nichols College
Ian Derda - SUNY Maritime College
Sam Huffman - Mass Maritime Academy
Aeden McDermott - Canterbury School
Nico Tartagni - Nichols College
Your Guilford Football Family will be cheering you on every step of the way. Go be great!
Additional pictures from the signing day can be found by clicking on the Pictures tab in the top navigation bar.
We are excited to share that Guilford Youth Football & Cheerleading is hosting the first annual Guilford Football Golf Classic on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at Quarry Ridge in Portland, CT.
This is a great opportunity to bring together our Guilford Football families for an annual gathering with youth and high school parents as well as alumni families to have fun and raise money for the program. Sponsorship, foursome and individual player opportunities will be available.
We are sorry your high school football experience ended the way it did. You deserved better. The entire program is proud of your commitment and dedication to helping build Guilford Football into a program we can all be proud to support.
On behalf of the Touchdown Club and your parents, coaches and teammates, we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. We are excited to watch where life takes you after high school. Good luck and we hope to see you at Kavanugh Field whenever we are able to play again.
The first time that Evan Chapman put on a helmet and a pair of pads, he knew he was destined to play football.
Evan is currently in his senior year at Guilford High School, where he’s played offensive tackle and defensive end for the football team. Evan’s inspiration for playing football came from his father Sloan Chapman, who also played the sport at Guilford.
“I’ve been playing sports since kindergarten. I started with youth football the summer of 2nd grade and never looked back,” Evan says. “What inspired me to play football was my father. He had a passion for football and also played at Guilford High School, where he was All State. Maybe someday we will play an alumni game together.”
Guilford was limited to playing 7-on-7 non-contact football in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope for Evan, along with many high school football players across the state, was that a full-fledged tackle season could take place sometime between the winter and spring campaigns. Unfortunately, the CIAC nixed any chances of that happening when it recently canceled the proposed alternative season.
“This was a different kind of season for football due to restrictions. This is where, ‘Let them play,’ came into action,” says Evan. “Our football team and our coach traveled to the Hartford state Capitol to voice our hopes to play. I liked how we all gathered to show our love of the game and how important it was for us to play.”
The news was disappointing for Evan and his teammates, especially his fellow seniors, when they found out that they wouldn’t be playing 11-on-11 football in the current school year. Evan had been holding out hope that a season would occur in some shape or form.
“I felt hopeful that we would finally be getting the chance to get some time in this season to be a team and have some senior year memories to take with us. [I} and my teammates have been keeping physically and mentally ready in hopes we would be playing,” Evan says. “As for me, I will continue my workout routine to be strong and ready for next year.”
Evan has received an offer to play football at Nichols College—a Division III school in Dudley, Massachusetts—and hopes to continue his career at the next level. Guilford Head Coach Anthony Salvati describes Evan as one of the hardest workers on his squad and believes that he deserves a shot to play in college.
“Whether it’s in the weight room or on the field, Evan’s one of the first ones in and the last one to leave. His eagerness and determination to become better has led him from a special teams player to a starter and leader on both the offensive and defensive lines,” says Salvati. “Evan has recently received an offer to play for Nichols College, where I know he will excel if he chooses to attend.”
Aside from football, Evan is also a goalie on the Guilford boys’ lacrosse team. Evan had previously played baseball, but recently found his niche in lacrosse and has been playing the sport for the past five years.
When Evan isn’t playing sports at Guilford, he enjoys saltwater and freshwater fishing. Evan is an honor roll student at the high school and plans to major in criminal justice in college with a goal of becoming a police officer.
“I am mentoring with the Guilford High School resource officer [Anthony Martone],” Evan says. “We are working on a Capstone Project, which will be an asset to my college studies and intended career in criminal justice and law enforcement.”
While he wasn’t able to play tackle football as a senior at Guilford, Evan feels grateful for any opportunity that he gets to compete in college, regardless of which school he attends.
“I am looking forward to college,” says Evan. “I’m honored to be playing football at a college level.”
Sam Huffman’s favorite day of the week is Friday. That’s because, for the past several years, Sam has been spending his Friday nights on the gridiron alongside his teammates with the Guilford football squad. He’s hoping for one last chance to do that as a senior.
Sam, a senior captain for Guilford, has been playing football since he was 10 years old. Sam was inspired to step on the field by his brothers Casey and Clay Huffman, who are both program alums.
“My friends got me into playing football, as well as my older brothers. They both played for the program,” Sam says. “I always liked the game of football and wanted to try it out. My favorite aspect of the sport is going out on the field on Friday nights with my brothers, knowing we are playing for each other and, no matter what, we have each other’s backs.”
Unfortunately for Sam and his teammates, the Guilford football team has been limited to 7-on-7 non-contact play after the CIAC canceled the 11-on-11 tackle season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the limitations, Sam has still enjoyed the experience of practicing and competing throughout the last few weeks. Everyone on the squad is staying optimistic there will be some football played during the spring.
“My favorite moment from this season has been just practicing and working every day to get better in preparation for what’s ahead,” says Sam. “I hope that we can still continue to play in this fall season and keep grinding as a team, so we can be prepared for this, hopefully, upcoming spring season.”
If there is a spring season, Sam plans on being a leader on whom Guilford’s younger players can rely. Sam also knows that any sports played need to take place in a safe and secure environment.
“This whole pandemic has definitely affected the way sports are played, and I just hope we can play in a manner that keeps the players, coaches, and parents safe,” Sam says. “In this spring season of football, I want to be the guy that everyone can count on and lead this team to success down the road.”
A safety, Sam snagged four interceptions for Guilford during the 7-on-7 season. Head Coach Anthony Salvati describes Sam as one of the team’s leaders on defense.
“Sam was a starter for us on defense as a junior. This year, he was the captain of our defense during our 7-on-7 season, and he led us with four interceptions,” says Sam. “He’s a big leader on the field for us.”
Sam appreciates that he can always go to his coach with any problem. Sam views Salvati as a huge mentor for him.
“My head coach is my role model, and I look up to Coach Salavti with the utmost respect. He isn’t just a coach on my high school football team—he’s a person I feel like I can talk to about anything,” Sam says. “Coach Salvati has always wanted the best from me and the rest of the team. He’s the kind of guy to not stand down from anything, and that mentality has definitely played a major role with the mindset of the team.”
Sam is also a member of the Guilford baseball team, for which he’s a pitcher and an outfielder. When he graduates from high school, Sam plans to play both of his sports and study international maritime business at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Regardless of what sport he’s playing, Sam always tries to set an excellent example whenever he puts on the Guilford uniform.
“I’m always looking to get better on the field, and I come to the practices with the mindset that I’m going to get better. I hustle every play and make others want to work harder, as well,” says Sam. “I’m working out every day in the gym before football practice to get bigger, faster, and stronger. I owe it to my team to be the best version of myself, no matter what season it is.”
Ian Derda has an unwavering love for football. Ian prides himself on hard work and puts in some long hours at the gym in an effort to achieve his ultimate goal. Ian wants to be the best player and teammate that he can possibly be as a member of the Guilford High School football team.
Ian is a slot receiver who was named one of Guilford’s senior captains for the 2020 season. Ian has been playing football for the past 10 years, ever since he started watching his older brother Eryk compete. Ian and Eryk were constantly moving because their father Sebastian is a member of the United States Coast Guard. However, that didn’t stop them from pursuing their passion.
“My brother Eryk got me into it when I was in the 2nd grade. I knew he always watched the football games, and that’s what started it mostly,” says Ian. “He started playing in Long Island and, when we got to Puerto Rico, I took interest and played. I was born in Pennsylvania, moved to North Carolina, Long Island, Puerto Rico, then finally to Connecticut in 4th grade. I’ve been in Connecticut ever since.”
Ian dedicated himself to growing alongside his teammates from the moment he joined the Guilford football team as a freshman. He enjoys all the unique intricacies of football and embraces every aspect of the game. This fall, Ian is slated to lead Guilford on the gridiron with fellow senior captains Aedan McDermott and Niko Tartagni.
“I think my favorite aspect would be the fact that it teaches you values throughout your years—toughness, teamwork, commitment, strategy, unity, and strength,” Ian says. “The important thing about these values is that the values go beyond football. They are important in life. Football is, in many ways, a microcosm of life. It teaches you to overcome adversity, to stay focused on an objective, and allows you to taste success at varying levels.”
Guilford Head Coach Anthony Salvati is looking forward to watching how Ian performs in the slot during the upcoming season. Salvati knows that Ian is going to be a key cog in Guilford’s offense.
“Derda is that quiet spark plug that can make a big play at any second,” says Salvati. “He makes big plays in every facet of the game—offense, defense, special teams. He has that rare electrifying capability that can change a game on a dime.”
Guilford saw some ups and downs while battling its way to a record of 4-6 last year. Ian says the biggest highlight came when Guilford notched a 20-19 road victory over crosstown rival Branford in the first game of the season.
“I think my favorite memory from last year was beating Branford. Everyone thought we were going to lose, and you just felt that rush after you hear that buzzer, and you got that confidence from proving everyone wrong,” Ian says. “This was also one of my favorite moments, because this was my first varsity start for football.”
Ian has made some huge improvements to his skillset during his tenure with the Guilford football program. Ian started out bench pressing 95 pounds and squatting 160 pounds. Now, he can bench press 205 pounds and squat 330 pounds.
“I usually go to the field with Aedan and throw routes that will help with my hands and route running skills,” says Ian, who is 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds. “I also run on the turf. I do some agility work that gets me faster. I also go to [Mangino Strength & Conditioning], which helps me get stronger, so that I can go up against those bigger kids.”
Ian is also a member of the Guilford boys’ lacrosse squad. He says that playing lacrosse has proved a big help in terms of his hand-eye coordination as a football player. Ian also enjoys playing video games in his free time.
“Lacrosse keeps me in shape with all the running and helps me with my hand-eye coordination, having to catch the ball, stick, and everything,” Ian says. “Some other things I like to do is play video games. I like playing video games, because they’re something you can play with friends, alone, or even with family.”
Ian plans on bringing a competitive edge to the football field this fall. No matter what, Ian is never going to stop pushing himself to perform at his peak.
“Once I beat my goals, I know I didn’t beat them. I set my standards even higher,” says Ian. “I’m a very competitive person, and I hate losing.”
Coming off of his first season as head coach, Anthony Salvati and his Guilford football squad are poised for big things in the fall of 2020. Salvati had served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, North Branford, for 15 years prior to accepting the head coaching position at Guilford, and he certainly enjoyed the experience.
Guilford finished with a record of 4-6 last year, showing signs that it has the potential to become a contender. Guilford won its first three games of the season and, out of its six losses, three of them were by six points or fewer.
“I really think we had a good season overall and, if some things went a little differently in those losses, we could be talking about a seven- or eight-win team; not four,” Salvati said. “We had some bumps in the road. A lot of kids stepped up, and some of these seniors that were starting for us last year didn’t have any varsity experience. Only three did.”
Coach Salvati and his team have received clearance from the CIAC to conduct meetings through the Zoom platform. Guilford’s athletes and coaches have been discussing the fundamentals of their training, as well as some X’s and O’s to ensure they will be ready for the fall season. Guilford is slated to kick off the year with a home game against Law on Friday, Sept. 11, provided that campaign winds up taking place in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the first time anything like this has ever been allowed, but we’re living in a unique time right now with COVID-19,” Salvati said. “What we know right now is that [Monday] July 6, we can start outdoor workouts, then we’re getting the OK to start conditioning [Thursday] Aug. 13, then practice [Monday] Aug. 17. This is still all tentative, but I’m hoping it all works out as planned.”
The CIAC released an 18-page document on its website regarding the resocialization of interscholastic athletics. In that document, the CIAC states that cloth or disposable face coverings should be worn throughout each phase when not engaging in vigorous activity. This includes situations like sitting on the bench, participating in chalk talk, or interacting with an athletic trainer.
“I’m hoping we stay on course,” Salvati said. “There’s a whole guideline for each phase. There can only be 10 kids to a group, and all coaches need to have masks on, and equipment needs to constantly be wiped down. I welcome it, though. I miss the guys, and we want to get ready for the season, whatever it takes.”
Guilford was a run-heavy team last year, rushing the ball about 65 percent of the time on its offensive possessions. However, Coach Salvati sees that changing this year with the return of senior captain quarterback Aedan McDermott. Last season, McDermott threw for 1,231 yards and had eight touchdowns with just two interceptions. He also accounted for 164 yards on the ground in his first year as team’s QB.
“I think he’s going to be All-League, if not All-State,” Salvati said of McDermott. “He’s 6-[foot]-1, 190 [pounds], and he showed a ton of promise last year. And he has the receivers this year. I want to try and spread the field out with three or four wide receivers on the field at a time, and maybe we’ll be passing the ball at a 60-40 ratio compared to last season.”
Also returning for Guilford are senior captains Ian Derda and Niko Tartagni. Last year, Tartagni went into the season as a halfback, but when the starting left tackle got hurt, Tartagni had to step up and replace him on the offensive line.
“Niko is a coach’s dream. A lot of kids wouldn’t have handled that transition from running back to the offensive line well, but he took it in stride and excelled there,” Coach Salvati said. “He’s also our middle linebacker and had the second-most tackles on the team last year.”
Tartagni finished his junior year with 70 tackles, one interception, and one fumble recovery. While Salvati feels confident that Guilford will have a strong defense, he’s also excited about his receiving corps. Guilford’s top wide receivers are Derda and fellow seniors Sam Huffman, Tristan Anderson, and Drew St. Denis.
“Sam is a two-way player for us, so he’s going to be all over the field on both offense and defense,” Salvati said. “Tristan has good hands and good speed, while Drew probably has the best hands on the team. He’s a quality receiver.”
Coach Salvati’s expectation for the 2020 season is for Guilford to be a competitive club within the SCC ranks. Ultimately, Salvati wants to see his team qualify for the Class L State Playoffs, although he knows how difficult of a challenge that will be.
“There’s no marker automatically qualifying you like some of these other sports,” said Salvati. “The top eight teams [in each class] make the playoffs, and there’s about 30 or so teams in [Class L]. It all depends on how everyone is doing around you. Even if we finish 7-3, that’s still a questionable record to make it in, because our league is so competitive.”
2020 Guilford Football Schedule
All home games at Guilford High School
Wednesday, Aug. 26: at Hamden w/ Glastonbury and Stratford at 4 p.m. (scrimmage)
Friday, Sept. 11: vs. Law at 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 18: at New London at 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 25: at Pomperaug at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 9: vs. East Lyme at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 16: at Hillhouse at Bowen Field at 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30: vs. Brookfield at 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 6: at Bassick at Kennedy Stadium at 6 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 13: vs. Branford at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 19: vs. East Haven at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 25: at Hand at Surf Club at 7 p.m.
The mission of the GHS Touchdown Club is to support the coaching staff, players and football community in achieving athletic excellence on and off the field while providing a mechanism to raise funds and instill a sense of public camaraderie that results in finanial and emotional sponsorship to GHS football. These volunteer efforts strive to compliment a positive and motivational environment that encourages growth, pride and excellence in Guilford sports.
Please consider offering your help and support to raise much needed funds, which subsidize the costs associated with a successful team; we also help to plan events, staff and operate the concession stand, coordinate resources such as athletic camps, scholorships, physical training, plan end of season celebrations, keep consistent communication between the coaching staff and the team, as well as support our children.
The Touchdown Club meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m at Guilford High School.
Although GHS is not a "pay to play" district, the TDC exists to coordinate several fundraising events throughout the year to help off-set the costs associated with running a successful team and club that is not covered by the school.