MILLTOWN — As a linebacker and offensive lineman, Jack Palmer’s contributions to the Saint Mark’s football team did not always show up in the box scores. But the Spartans knew his value, and so did the committee that selects the recipient of the Michael DeLucia Sportsmanship Award for the 2020 season.
Palmer received the accolade on March 26 at Saint Mark’s from Kevin DeLucia. It is named after his brother, who died from meningitis in 1971. Their parents, Tom and Pat, established the award in 1972 to recognize a senior football player from a Catholic high school “who has exemplified outstanding performance, attitude and character on and off the field.”
Palmer, one of the Spartans’ captains, earned third-team all-state honors at linebacker. Saint Mark’s finished 6-1, their best record since an undefeated 2010, when they won the Division I state championship. Unfortunately for the team, now in Division II, the state tournament field was reduced to four teams this past season, and the Spartans just missed their first playoff appearance since 2014.
“We were all heartbroken when we came up just short this year, but we were all happy to just get out there one last time with everybody. We’re happy that we left the program in a better place than when we found it,” Palmer said recently at Saint Mark’s.
Palmer joins a long list of high school standouts to win the DeLucia Award. Previous recipients include Gov. John Carney and Palmer’s coach, Joe Wright, both Saint Mark’s graduates.
“Learning about it from Ms. DeLucia, talking about it and learning the story behind the award, looking at the people who have won it in the past, it’s a great thing to win. It’s one of the most prestigious trophies I have. I couldn’t be happier to have it,” he said.
Palmer will be playing football this fall at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., while majoring in exercise science. He would like to become a physical therapist, having gone through typical football player injuries. He also wrestled for the Spartans. Therapists, he said, “help you bounce back, help you get to 100 percent. As an athlete, I’ve always admired that.”
The Middletown resident followed two brothers to Saint Mark’s, and he has had other relatives attend the school. Over the past few years, he has been impressed with the increase in number of students on campus and is excited about its future.
“Knowing that Saint Mark’s is back on the upswing, bringing kids into the school, it’s just a great feeling knowing that it’s just going to get better,” he said.
2015 Colby Reeder, Salesianum
2012 Andre Patton, St. Elizabeth
2010 Ryan Kilpatrick, Salesianum
2009 AJ Dillione, Salesianum; Chaz Malewski, St. Mark’s
2008 Andrew Schieffer, Salesianum; Corey Olsen, St. Mark’s
2007 Frank Kurek, Archmere; Sonny Durham, St. Elizabeth
2006 Andrew Szczerba, Salesianum
2005 Nicholas Dominelli, Salesianum
2004 Gene DelleDonne, Salesianum; Dan Meany, Archmere
2003 Joey Wright, St. Mark’s
2002 Ryan Stearrett, St. Elizabeth
2001 Thomas J. Weiss, Archmere
2000 Jack Gillespie, Salesianum; Jeff Fletcher, St. Elizabeth
1999 Louis Wright, St. Mark’s; Matt Swarter, St. Elizabeth
1998 Edsel Torres, Archmere
1997 Kevin Coen, Salesianum
1996 Mike Watkins, St. Mark’s
1995 Jason Maxwell, Salesianum
1994 Rich Conway, St. Elizabeth
1993 Dan McGee, Salesianum; Sean Davenport, St. Elizabeth
1992 Tom Coyne, Archmere; Josh Kasper, St. Mark’s
1991 Ryan Burke, Archmere; Chad Fedorkowicz, St. Elizabeth
1990 Steve Brady, Salesianum
1989 Chris Iudica, St. Mark’s; Shawn Mitchell, St. Elizabeth
1988 Chris Johnson, Salesianum
1987 Mike Lesutis, Archmere
1986 Dave Erfle, Salesianum; Rich Sernyak, Salesianum
1985 Harry Schiavi, Salesianum; Mark Kostic, Salesianum; Mike Benefield, St. Mark’s
1984 Michael Drake, Salesianum; Pat Udovich, Archmere
1983 Roy David Thompson, St. Mark’s; Ken Falkenstein, Archmere
1982 Mike Udovich, Archmere
1981 Joe Garecht, Salesianum
1980 Jeff Thommes, Salesianum; Joe Pileggi, Archmere
1979 Frank Cephous, St. Mark’s, John Ryan, Salesianum
1978 Joe Papili, St. Elizabeth; Mark DiNardo, Archmere
1977 Steve McGrath, Salesianum; Mike LaGasse, Archmere
1976 Bob Hanisch, Salesianum
1975 Chuck Hunter, St. Mark’s
1974 Rom Gac, St. Mark’s
1973 John Carney, St. Mark’s
1972 Mark McLane, Salesianum