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Fairfield Prep announces 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame inductees
Fairfield Prep is very proud to announce the inductees for the 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame.
Rev. Eugene Brissette, S.J., Matt Merullo '83, Jack O'Connell '51, Rob Rotanz '08, Peter Tolk '86 and the 1969 Football Team will all be joining the greats when they are inducted into the Fairfield Prep Athletic Hall of Fame on the Friday evening of Reunion Weekend on May 29, 2020. Read about each inductee in their bio listed below.
The Fairfield Prep Athletic Hall of Fame was established in 2017 to honor those alumni who achieved excellence and distinguished themselves in Fairfield Prep’s athletic programs while also living Prep’s mission throughout their lives as “Men for Others.” The inductees were selected through a nomination process by the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee. View our past inductees here.

Rev. Eugene Brissette, S.J.

Perhaps no one was more visible for more seasons on the sideline than the Rev. Eugene Brissette.

Fr. Brissette was a teacher and administrator at Fairfield Prep from 1956-1992, but he also served as chaplain for the football team during the tenure of both AHOF coaches: the late Joe Brosley and the late Earl Lavery.

Illness forced Fr. Brissette to the sidelines in the early 1990s and he passed away after a long illness in 2002. The school honored his memory by naming its new athletic center after him.

Matt Merullo '83

Matt Merullo '83 was a talented receiver for Prep in the early 1980s, but his true calling came on the baseball diamond.

He starred behind the plate for the Jesuits, wielding a dangerous bat as well as a strong throwing arm. He was offered a scholarship to North Carolina, where he continued to excel and wound up being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 1986.

Merullo played parts of six seasons with the White Sox, Indians and Twins, compiling a lifetime .234 batting average with seven home runs and 34 RBI in 223 games. His best season was in 1991 with Chicago, when he hit .229 with five round-trippers and 23 RBI in 80 games.

Jack O'Connell '51

One of the best playmakers of his era, Jack O’Connell '51 was a three-year basketball starter for coach Fella Gintoff. He was named team captain for his senior season, was a first-team all District (Bridgeport, Stratford and Fairfield) selection and finished third among all scoring leaders at 15 points per game.

The Jesuits went 34-13 in O’Connell’s three varsity seasons and he was named to Prep’s All-Decade Team (1942-1951).

After graduation, O’Connell starred at Fairfield University, where he started for four seasons and compiled 1,016 career points, averaging 20.6 per game. He captained the Stags his senior season.

Rob Rotanz '08

Fairfield Prep lacrosse took a major step into elite status in Connecticut thanks to the talents of athletes like Rob Rotanz '08.

The midfielder was a part of Prep’s first three of four consecutive Class L state championships. He compiled career marks of 153 goals and 67 assists, including 51 goals and 18 assists in his senior season. He earned a scholarship to Duke University, where he helped the Blue Devils win the 2010 NCAA championship.

Peter Tolk '86

Peter Tolk '86 was another of those gifted athletes who made their mark in more than one sport for Fairfield Prep.

As a football player, Tolk was a three-year starter at linebacker and was an all-league and all-state choice in his senior season.

But Tolk’s forte was wrestling, a sport still in its halcyon days at Prep. but Tolk helped bring it to the forefront. Often competing against much heavier competition in terms of weight class, Tolk was a two-time Class LL state champion and a three-time Class LL finalist.

After graduation, he wrestled for four seasons at Franklin and Marshall and was the team captain his senior year.

1969 Football Team

The 1969 Football Team was the fifth undefeated and untied team in school history and the second 10-0 squad coached by late Prep Athletic Hall of Fame coach Earl Lavery.

“To win takes a complete commitment of mind and body,” Lavery was quoted as saying. “When you don’t have the desire to make that commitment, they don’t call you champ any more.”

That team backed Lavery’s words, rolling to Prep’s fifth consecutive MBIAC title and winning by two touchdowns or better in all but one game, a nail-biting 6-0 triumph over then-arch rival Law in Milford in Week 4.

Led by junior quarterback Chuck Lemieux, all-MBIAC center and co-captain Dave Lincoln, all-MBIAC running back and co-captain Pete Brawley, all-league fullback Greg Gintoff, speedy running back Paul Mitchell, and ends John Ramos and Tim Burns, the Jesuits outscored the opposition 290-56. The defense, anchored by all-MBIAC nose guard Walter Welch and tackles Rich Ryan and Ken Pruzinsky, posted five straight shutouts to start the season and six overall.

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