Anthony DiFederico skirts lost season with academics

Jonathan Law football player Anthony DiFederico, with his parents John and Denise, scholar athlete chairman Kevin O'Brien and Law coach Chris Haley, was honored for his academic and athletic achievements by the Casey-O'Brien New Haven County Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Jonathan Law football player Anthony DiFederico, with his parents John and Denise, scholar athlete chairman Kevin O'Brien and Law coach Chris Haley, was honored for his academic and athletic achievements by the Casey-O'Brien New Haven County Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.

Bill O’Brien / Contributed photo

Anthony DiFederico’s game planning has guaranteed the Jonathan Law team captain a future on the football field.

Denied a senior season to impress college recruiters, DiFederico used the time to get bigger. He added 15 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame to get to 270. Weigh that in with a 4.25 grade point average and schools were chomping at the bit.

Trinity College landed DiFederico, a Law standout on the offensive and defensive line. Coach Jeff Devanney’s Bantams have won three consecutive Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference titles before going 5-4 in the pre-pandemic 2019 season.

“I committed the August before my senior season to Trinity College,” DiFederico said. “I’d been talking to a bunch of schools throughout the summer. Coach Devanney and associate head coach (Lewis) Acquarulo kept calling. After visiting, I knew it was the best place to be. They have built a history of winning. They have a strong alumni base. It was the right option for me.”

DiFederico puts academic and athletic pursuits on the same plane.

“To be honest, the first thing that any college coach is going to ask is ‘Can I see your transcript?’ If you aren’t producing a product in the classroom that you can send to coaches it doesn’t matter what you do on the field,” he said. “Without grades they won’t be able to count on keeping you on the team.

“My mom Denise and dad John are dedicated to having me be the best that I can be,” DiFederico said. “My folks were at every game. They would stay on me to get my work done. None of this is possible without their help.”

DiFederico didn’t play Pop Warner or youth football. But it took only one day of practice to hook the freshman.

“Andy Paulus and Justin Abe were captains my freshman year, both linemen,” he said. “Sheldon Gargano, another defensive lineman, was captain my sophomore year. They were good leaders. I looked up to them and followed them. They taught me a lot when we went into position drills. They showed me the dedication and work needed to play at the next level of football.”

Law coach Chris Haley said Trinity is getting a top of the line student-athlete.

“Trinity is a great spot for him. They have a great program and Anthony is a winning player. He is weight room kid. He understands what it takes to play at a great program like Trinity,” Haley said. “Anthony’s biggest strength is the classroom, and his ability to bring that mindset to football. When you have a smart and quick player on the defensive line it is a big advantage.”

DiFederico will major in economics at the Hartford-based school.

“I was able to do an internship at Internet Financial Limited in Milford,” he said. “It was an introduction into long-term portfolios. It was interesting to see how they broke down individual stocks and funds. If not football, I guess you could say I always wanted to work on Wall Street.”

DiFederico leaves for Trinity on Aug. 24.

“I’ll be going up there with similar minded people (good in classroom, good on the field). It will be very competitive. Competing in practice to get better is a good thing. I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I was in talks with multiple Division I schools. At the end of the day, Trinity is going to provide the best college experience for me.”

DiFederico has been chatting it up with the other incoming recruits.

“Many are from Connecticut. Some from New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts. All local-type guys. It is great we are getting the best guys from the area,” he said. “I will be playing defensive line next year. I was looking to do whatever was needed. I haven’t been in pads in a while. I’m looking forward to getting on the field.”

Bantam notes

DiFederico’s grandfather played at Tufts. Trinity had won 11 straight games in the series before Tufts prevailed 14-8 in 2019. DiFederico’s uncle Kevin McCurry played at Trinity (class of 1989). His dad, a Waterford High grad, played center at Norwich (VT) University.

Scholar-athletes honored

Anthony DiFederico was recognized as a scholar athlete by the Casey-O'Brien New Haven County Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame for his work on the field and in the classroom.

“To receive this great award was a nice way to end my senior year. I was honored to receive it,” DiFederico said.

This is the 61st consecutive year that players were honored for their academic excellence, leadership, and citizenship. Since 1962 the chapter has honored 1,283 scholar athletes from its 33 member schools.

“We were pleased to honor another group of outstanding young men for their accomplishments in the classroom, their school and the community,” Bill O'Brien chapter president said. O'Brien said. "We couldn't deny worthy candidates of this prestigious honor just because they didn't play football this past fall.”

O'Brien polled the coaches and athletic directors of the chapter’s schools. They overwhelmingly thought it was a great idea to carry on the tradition.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354