Since graduating its first four-year class in 1967, Montville High has produced a bundle of athletic exploits.
The girls’ cross country team under coach Kevin Crowley built a dynasty, winning four straight Class M state titles and two State Open crowns in '81 and '82.
The Indians’ football team produced southeastern Connecticut’s most prolific college and NFL football player in Doug DuBose. The ’82 MHS grad finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting at Nebraska and won a Super Bowl ring in his brief career with the 49ers.
Jeremy Terni was arguably the area’s most productive baseball player ever, finishing his career with an ECC record 31 home runs and 140 hits in the late '90s.
Montville has always taken pride in its sports, and its past team and individual accomplishments at the high school reflect that passion toward athletics. But in the New Millennium, there seems to be no doubt that we are right in the middle of the 'Golden Age of Montville High Sports."
The start of the 2000s featured three straight boys’ track and field state titles from 2001 to 2003. The baseball team has won three Class M titles since 2006. The 2010 boys’ soccer team and 2003 wrestling team represent Montville with Class M state title plaques as well. Other programs have valiantly pursued state crowns, enjoying the most success in their respective sport’s history.
The football team has reached three straight playoffs for the first time in school history, winning a record 29 games over that span.
The girls’ basketball team set a school record of 19 wins in 2008 and a program-best state semifinal finish. Girls’ soccer set a team record for single-season wins in 2010. Jessica Bennett also made history in 2009, becoming the first girl to qualify for the State Open in boys’ wrestling.
Just in the past couple of years, MHS has produced the Gatorade State soccer player of the year in Tyler Leeman (2010), the ECC's all-time leading football rusher and scorer in Tyler Girard-Floyd, threeprofessional baseball draft picks in Anthony Giansanti, Taylor Lewis and Pat Quinn, the New England 100-meter dash champ in Darrell Wattely (2010), Division I women's basketball recruit Nikkia Smith and Division I football recruit Bobby Johnson.
“We are indeed enjoying great success here,” Montville director of athletics Walt Sherwin said. “In the last 11 years, we have crowned eight state champs of the 19 total and 41 of the school’s total 64 [Eastern Connecticut Conference] champs since Montville’s first graduating class in 1967."
Chris Ouellette, MHS Class of '04, is a former baseball, soccer and track standout who now works at Palmer Academy alternative high school and is an MHS assistant soccer coach. As an introductory speaker at the Indians' soccer banquet last month at Mohegan Sun, he labeled the recent era of success as "The Golden Age of Montville Sports."
"The record since 2000 speaks for itself," Ouellette said. "But I tell you, we've always had athletes who take pride in wearing Montville across their chest and have been role models to future athletes by working as hard as any state champion could."
Other communities might have a deeper talent pool and newer facilities, but nobody outworks Montville."We pride ourselves on being a hard-working middle class community," Ouellette said. "Montville's teams reflect that never quit attitude."
MHS made up ground facility wise with the installation of field turf at its football-soccer-track complex in 2007. The complex hosted the ECC Track and Field Championships this year, numerous state playoff games and is considered the top on-campus outdoor sports venue in eastern Connecticut.
And the Indians are blessed to have a number of veteran coaches who are still young or in the prime of their careers and are MHS teachers to boot. Phil Orbe, baseball coach for 17 years, and football coach Tanner Grove were also former Montville student athletes.
"They are good coaches and they care about their athletes," said Mike McLaughlin, a longtime area radio broadcaster who works at Montville High now. "There a solid collection of coaches there, plus Walt Sherwin has a magician-like management style. He hires good coaches, provides them with all they need and then lets them coach without interference. Montville has always had good teams, but never as outstanding overall as recently."
Plus, having a pipeline of talent coming up from well-supported youth programs regenerates the lifeblood of Montville sports.
"I like to think it is a combination of coaches that work hard and athletes that do the same," Sherwin said. "I feel the community does an exceptional job of supporting athletics and realizes the importance of strong competition and life lessons/teamwork that is developed through our athletic programs. Our administration, community, coaches, parents and athletes work hand in hand to help achieve success."