BOB GNOZA AWARD
Bob Gnoza was the former Commissioner of the Cape Ann Youth Football League and served more than 20 years as a coach, board member, and President of Masconomet Youth Football. Bob was one of the most progressive CAYFL Commissioners in the league’s history, actively looking to expand the league and advocating various rule changes to improve competition and safety. He was well respected by coaches and officials throughout the league, and loved by the hundreds of youth players he coached throughout his career. In 2008, he received the highest honor of any coach in league history as he was named Massachusetts Youth Coach of the Year by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association.
Bob passed away in July, 2014 at the age of 63, but his legacy lives on in the Cape Ann Youth Football League. To honor his spirit and commitment to youth sports, the CAYFL is proud to present the Bob Gnoza Award annually to a deserving 8th grade player who best exemplifies the principles Bob stood for – dedication, courage, discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship.
Each year, one 8th grader will be nominated by each CAYFL program. The head coach of the A (or JVA) team should submit a short bio of the nominated player and discuss his qualifications for the award considering:
* Leadership qualities.
* Teamwork and team spirit.
* Dealing with adversity.
* Respect and sportsmanship.
* Dedication and commitment to team.
* Academics and citizenship.
* Other admirable qualities.
All nominees will be reviewed and voted upon by the Commissioners and head coaches of each program (one vote each and must be for a nominee from another town). The winner will be announced at the annual CAYFL All Star Banquet.
Swampscott (Winner 2023 Gnoza Award)
The Swampscott A Squad coaching staff would like to nominate Dylan Lucas for the prestigious 2023
CAYFL Bob Gnoza Award. Dylan has been playing football since the 1st grade. His father, Tom, has been
a youth football coach since that time and has remained a coach each year despite a terminal cancer
diagnosis that I will get into below. This father and son duo have both left a significant stamp on the Big
Blue Youth program over the years and it truly is an honor to write this on behalf of Dylan. What I am
about to write is hard, as Tom is a good friend and coach, and his son Dylan is one of the finest young
men I have had the privilege of coaching over my tenure of 7 years in the program.
Dylan has always been a top performer on the football field. He is consistently producing on both sides
of the football. He is one of the toughest Defensive Ends in the league year after year making an impact
in every game we have played. His physical strength, understanding his position and determination to
be an impact player have made him a standout defensive player for the Big Blue. Offensively, he plays
the guard position and is reliable, strong, and pretty quick. He possesses great technique and has a
very good understanding of blocking schemes making him a very successful lineman. He is often
overheard helping his teammates with their line responsibilities and is constantly picking his teammates
up when a mistake is made.
Dylan is a joy to coach. His attitude is always upbeat and goes out of his way to say “hello” at the
beginning of each practice and shakes my hand and says “thank you, coach” at the end of each practice.
He is dedicated to the sport never missing a practice or a game in all the time I have been coaching him.
His commitment to his teammates can be found in all aspects of the game. He is a strong leader, leading
by example with consistency on the field of play, but also not afraid to step up or speak up for his
teammates when he feels it’s needed.
The past few years have been challenging for Dylan. His father, Tom Lucas, a father of two boys, a
Swampscott police officer and Swampscott youth football coach was diagnosed with throat cancer in
December of 2021. First off, Tom is one of the most positive and sincere humans I have ever met. He is
a man of integrity and pride. Tom started chemotherapy and radiation almost immediately and fought
hard to beat his cancer. In March of 2023 he was declared cancer-free after a long fight and the joy and
emotion he felt, everyone felt, was incredible. Unfortunately, three months later in June of 2023 Tom
received bad news. The cancer came roaring back and metastasized in his jaw. This time the doctors
said they could not cure and that he only had a few months to live. Tom’s only choice was to die, or to
fight once again going through chemo and radiation to extend his life for as long as his body can take it.
I’ll give you one guess which road Tom chose.
As I write this Tom continues his fight to stay alive for his boys. His goal was to be able to watch our
team this fall and make it through the season so he could admire his son for one last year on the
gridiron. His speech is severely impaired, his body has gone through hell, and yet he shows up every
single Sunday on our sideline to help coach and watch the kids play with a smile, never a complaint. This
past Sunday immediately after our playoff loss Tom’s older son, Kyle, made a speech on his dad’s behalf
with the message to “Never Give Up!” I am a grown man and listening to this was just incredible and
had all of us in tears. Here is a man fighting for his life standing before these kids and coaches with the
strongest lesson of all, to have enough courage to keep on fighting for what you believe in. His
message transcends the game, the failure, the successes, and teaches us all that if you truly believe in
something and love something so much it’s worth fighting for.
Dylan reminds me of his dad. He is a happy-go-lucky positive young man who never has come down to
practice and brought a bad attitude despite all he has going in his personal life. He is always smiling
even when he makes a mistake. His commitment and willingness to do anything for his team earn him
a lot of respect from his peers. The past few years have really matured Dylan as he faces the tough facts
of life. I think he understands that his dad won’t be around for very long, but to enjoy the time he does
have with him, and to take every life lesson he can learn from him.
Dylan is an exemplary student in the classroom, a very smart kid, and he gets along with everyone. His
great character and sincere approach to his relationships make him a wonderful teammate and
classmate. Dylan does not look for sympathy from any of us, but rather uses his kind approach to get
along with his days. Football gives him the outlet he needs to be physical and keep his mind engaged on
something outside of his personal life if even just for a few hours each day.
It is with all of the above that I nominate Dylan Lucas to receive the Bob Gnoza award for the 2023
season. I can guarantee you that you will not be disappointed should he win, and that this award will
have a positive impact on Dylan moving forward even after Tom departs this life for the next.
It is with great pleasure, that we nominate Alden Seamen for the 2023 Bob Gnoza Award.
This is Alden’s first year playing and he is a great example of a team player who contributes to the success of the team while overcoming challenges. Sports is one of the few things he relates to and follows avidly. He loves being on the team and being part of a group. Alden’s passion for sports is evident in his knowledge of various sports, including football, baseball, hockey, soccer, etc.
Alden always comes to practice with a smile and a positive attitude. He is completely unselfish always trying to help his teammates and coaches prepare for the upcoming opponent. He has worked hard to improve his attention skills and performance on the field. You will often see him cheering on his teammates and is always cheerful and supportive.
In addition to his passion for football, Alden also enjoys playing video games and cooking. His hobbies have helped him develop a well-rounded personality, which is evident in his interactions with his teammates.
Alden has earned the respect of his teammates because of his wonderful spirit and team-first attitude. When he gets in the game or makes a nice play at practice, his teammates cheer him on with so much pride and enjoyment. They also voted him captain in one of our final games of the season to show appreciation for his commitment to our team. His team spirit constantly lifts us, and he has been a dedicated contributor playing a vital role in our team’s success.
After reading what Bob Gnoza stood for, we can confidently say that they share many of the same wonderful qualities.
It is with great pleasure that Hamilton-Wenham Youth Football nominates Andersen Kraft for the 2023 Bob Gnoza Award. After reading the history and characteristics of Mr. Gnoza, the choice was simple.
I have the honor of nominating Jayden Martinez for this year’s Gnoza Award. Jayden moved to North Andover from Lawrence at the beginning of sixth grade. Being in a new town and neighborhood, Jayden did not know anyone and was looking for a way to make friends. Jayden had never played an organized sport in his life so he had to convince his mom to let him play football as a way to meet new people. Jayden showed up to the first day of practice, all 4 foot 7 inches of him, with a giant smile and wearing his sports goggles. We had to show him how to put on his helmet and the rest of the equipment correctly. Even though he was new, not only to football but any organized sport, after a few practices it was evident that Jayden was the hardest worker on the field.
During that first season, Jayden took his share of bumps and bruises as the smallest guy on the field having had no athletic experience. However, this didn’t dampen his desire to play football. Though he struggled that first season with difficulties remembering plays, his confidence started to grow and he became fearless on the field. While accomplishing his goal of meeting new friends, he also came to love the game of football.
Over the past two seasons, Jayden has become a student of the game and has improved his skills and knowledge each year. What is most impressive about Jayden is how he has grown as a teammate and a player. He is the first player at practice each night and is always willing to help carry a bag or get the equipment needed for practice. He is also always the last one to leave practice, again making sure everything is put away. In three years, Jayden has never missed a practice. Even when he was injured and could not take part, he was at practices and games watching, learning, and supporting his teammates.
He is the first player to congratulate a teammate on a nice catch, run, or touchdown or to console a player on a tough play. He is also the first player to help an opposing player up and tell them “Good block” or “Nice hit”. Jayden is a natural leader and does this by example. No matter what drill, scrimmage, or sprints the team is doing, he will go full speed on every repetition. Jayden Martinez has grown into the role of the ideal team player.
Jayden is one of the smallest players on the field, but has the biggest heart. In addition to being a great teammate, Jayden is one of the kindest, polite, and respectful young men I have come across in almost forty years of coaching. Along with being a great person, Jayden is also an honor roll student at North Andover Middle School. It has been a privilege to coach Jayden for three seasons. As an athlete, teammate, and overall great kid, I believe Jayden Martinez is very deserving of the Gnoza Award.
I am pleased to announce Bryce L’Italien as a nominee for this year’s Cape Ann Youth Football League’s Bob Gnoza Award.
Bryce started playing tackle football in the fourth grade where he progressively demonstrated sportsmanship, leadership, athleticism, and competitiveness. Bryce played both running back and linebacker. His speed and agility helped get his team points. His teammates looked up to Bryce as an example and he is extremely coachable.
Unfortunately, Bryce sustained a season-ending injury in the sixth grade while running the ball during the opening drive, the opening game against Masco. Bryce took a tackle which not only put him out for the season, but he also could not play any sports for a good 9 months. He had a total ACL repair through Boston Children’s Hospital in December 2021 and endured physical therapy three days a week, for two hours, straight through August of 2022. Despite not knowing if he would ever play tackle football again, he had the drive to get back onto the field for his seventh-grade B team season and he hasn’t looked back!
During this injury, Bryce missed the opportunity to accompany his NEF-FL team to Nationals at the Pro Bowl in Vegas. He also missed his last year of Little League. Although Bryce umpires for the Danvers National Little League “DNLL” for the love of the game.
Bryce has had High Honors and Honors throughout middle school and during his injury. Which is an accomplishment considering Bryce is dyslexic. So, earning A’s and B’s is a huge accomplishment. All the teachers love having him as a student.
Bryce was selected as a captain this season and has helped lead his team through an exciting and competitive season.
The coaching staff believes that there is nobody better than Bryce who has demonstrated the qualifications and deserves this year’s Bob Gnoza Award.
This year’s Bob Gnoza Award nomination from the Pentucket Youth Football is an easy decision. Dylan
Paul exemplifies all the characteristics that this award stands for. This is his second year in the program,
and he is the Swiss army knife of the team. Dylan has played almost every position on offense and
defense with no complaints. For example, he has played quarterback, center, safety, etc. Dylan is
receptive to constructive criticism and will always respond with “Yes coach”. Dylan is every coach’s ideal
team player and the opposing team’s worst nightmare. He is a leader on the field, ensuring that all of his
teammates are in the correct position allowing the defense to be successful. Dylan has been a huge
piece in turning a one-win team last year, to a playoff contender this year. In week two of the season, he
suffered a rib injury that is still lingering. His work ethic and determination have pushed him through,
resulting in him not missing one practice or game.
Dylan has experienced different scenarios that have tested his character. This year while the family was
away on vacation a pipe burst causing significant damage and displacing them from their home. This
family of 5 has been residing in a trailer in their driveway since March. During the football season, both
parents have had to miss work due to different medical issues. Dylan has been a strong, caring, big
brother to his younger siblings during this difficult time.
Dylan’s energy off the field exceeds his football talent on the field. He is a multi-sport athlete who works
hard in the classroom to get the honor roll. Dylan challenges himself in school by taking accelerated
classes. He is an 8th grader who is a positive role model and who also understands the importance of the
student side of being a student-athlete.
We are extremely proud and lucky to have Dylan be part of the Pentucket Youth Football program. It is
truly an honor to nominate Dylan Thomas Paul for such a prestigious award.
Colby Nash doesn’t love tackle football. At least, not for the same reasons most of us do.
But, there’s not another player who more embodies the values that Bob Gnoza coached and lived by.
Colby was born into a football family and has been playing since the second grade. His older brother and sister, respectively, played and cheered and his father coached them all, all the way through. I don’t imagine Colby was ever really given much of a choice to play at a young age, and if had he may have chosen not to. But he never did.
Practice after practice and season after season, he kept showing up. On hot August afternoons and on cold dark November nights, he kept showing up. Many other players have put on the pads over the years and many of them have come and gone. None outlasted Colby.
- No other player has logged more hours playing tackle football than Colby.
- No other player has pushed the sled for as long or as far.
- No other player has done more up downs.
- No other player has touched more lines or run more sprints.
And no other player has proven more reliable than Colby Nash.
Colby does not play football for individual accolades. He plays because he loves being part of the team and he understands that every member of a team has an important role to play.
And, although Colby was not a difference maker on the field, he made a huge difference on our team.
Colby went out of his way to help other players feel more a part of our team. In fact, on one “off” day earlier this season Colby and some other teammates made plans to get together with a new teammate to get in some extra reps and help build her confidence. No one asked Colby to do this, and he wasn’t concerned about this player possibly getting more playing time than him. He simply wanted to help his teammate get better, and she did, and by putting his teammate’s needs ahead of his own, he played a huge role in helping our team get better.
Football is a tough sport, arguably the toughest, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
Now, Colby has never been the most physical player and in seasons past he would have been content to hide in the back of the line to avoid his turn in full contact drills.
But he kept showing up and every day, practice, game, and season that went by, he grew a little stronger (and even a little faster) and, most importantly, he learned a little bit about himself. He learned that he could endure what others could not.
He may have never won a sprint, nor the “Oklahoma” drill, but he learned he had a level of resilience that others did not.
So with two games remaining in the season and a depleted O-Line, we asked the team, “Who wants to step up and play Left Gaurd?” And guess whose hand went up when others would not?
Damn right. It was Colby Nash.
Colby not only sured up our O-line and helped us finish the season strong, but he taught us all a little something too…
He taught us there’s more to love about this game than most will ever realize. He taught us that accomplishing anything truly meaningful in life require two essential ingredients – consistent effort and time.
One of those ingredients you control and the other is fleeting. So don’t waste it.
Thank you, Colby!
The Ipswich Triton coaches are proud to nominate Carter Whitney for the Bob Gnoza award for 2023.
We feel Carter is deserving of this award because of the perseverance that he has shown through this
year with multiple setbacks. Carter has been with the program since the D team always playing an
important role on our offensive line and as our Linebacker since 4th grade. We had big plans for this year
with Carter but a weightlifting accident on our second day of practice left him possibly out for the
season. Carter had 4 bottom teeth avulsed and after a four-hour procedure at Children’s Hospital, the
teeth were set back in and splinted. After 3 weeks he started to work his way back and play limited time
After a couple of games stopping the run as a Middle Linebacker he hyper-extended his knee in practice.
Another couple of weeks out Carter could not be kept out and came back just to be at practice in pads
and help with substitutions during games. He is not 100% but he is at practice helping with scout teams
and he is ready to run in when we need him during games to give players a break. He can fill in at any
position on the offensive line and jump into any spot on defense; this is a huge asset when we need
substitutions in close games. He has never complained once! On the sideline, he is often found giving
others advice as to what he is seeing the other team is doing, and leadership skills that he is building.
Carter has proven to be the definition of a team player doing what is best for his team and never
giving up. He is always a positive voice on and off the field with all his teammates and classmates.
When he is not playing football you will find Carter outside; fishing, riding bikes, and playing baseball. He is
truly the player that is looked for in a Gnoza Nominee.
Vincent Mannone has been nominated by Gloucester Youth Football for the Gnoza award. In youth football, we often talk about the importance of character, teamwork, and dedication alongside raw talent. Vinny embodies all these qualities. He has been a shining example to his teammates, both on and off the field. Vinny’s passion for the game, his commitment to improvement, and his willingness to step up when it matters most have set him apart. This young athlete has consistently shown us what it means to give your all, to push through challenges, and to elevate the team. He’s been a role model for his peers, always leading by example, and encouraging others to do their best. This award is not just about statistics and scoring; it’s about the intangibles that make a player truly exceptional. We’ve witnessed his dedication in practices, through rainy and cold game days, and through the countless hours of hard work they’ve put in. His passion for the game is evident in every sprint, every pass, and every tackle. His contributions to our team go beyond the scoreboard. He helped foster a sense of unity, camaraderie, and determination that has inspired all of us. Vinny has reminded us that in football, as in life, it’s not about the obstacles you face, but how you rise above them. We humbly submit Vinny Mannone for the Gnoza award. Thank you for your consideration.
Owen is one of the most dedicated players in the MYF program. He is a player that embodies the “Team
First” attitude and is never concerned about his personal stats or accolades. He is a humble, hard-
working player that is single minded in one goal – Helping his team win in any way he can. As a small
framed player finishing his third season as a football player, he sets a great example for smaller players
that playing with a big heart can be more important than having a big body. Owen has proven that even
smaller players can make a big difference in every game with maximum effort, courage and
determination. Owen consistently shows determined effort and a mindset to get the job done, no matter
the size of the opponent. His self-discipline in practice is unparalleled. He truly listens and implements
coaching advice, whether that be technical or philosophical advice. He tries to get a little better every day
and the cumulative effect of that has turned him into a great player. He has always been a Team First
player and loves his teammates. His behavior in practices and games exemplifies true sportsmanship –
respect for coaches, respect for teammates and respect for opponents.
Owen leads by example. Only very rarely has he missed a practice and only when he was sick as
a dog. Bumps, bruises or even more serious injuries like a broken arm or turf toe, or broken
fingers have never kept Owen off the practice field. He encourages and helps his teammates get
better in his own quiet, unassuming way through his words and actions.
Teamwork & Team Spirit
A player that any coach would love to have on his team. Truly exemplifies what team spirit looks
like and is always the first one there celebrating his teammates success in the end zones. He
gets more excited about setting a key block than scoring touchdowns himself, (though he's
scored several TDs too. Time and again, Owen has shown that he is unconcerned about his
personal stats and keeps his focus exclusively on team goals. Owen loves Masco football and
epitomizes a player that plays with “Masco Pride.”
Dealing with Adversity
Owen’s journey in youth football has been a bumpy one. His first year as a 6th grader placed him
on the JVC team and it was an important year for him to build his confidence and identity as a
football player. He made a big difference on that team and never complained or felt discouraged
by missing C team cuts. Instead he took an optimistic view and threw his full energy and effort
into helping his JVC team in any way he could.
Last season on B team Owen broke his arm a few hours before the first team practice. While
disappointed that he couldn’t contribute right away, it didn’t keep him down. He attended every
practice for weeks with his cast and stayed focused and used the opportunity to learn Coach
Weidman and Coach Gustafson’s playbooks as best as he could so that when he returned he
could step right in. Literally hours after his cast came off he was suited up and jumped right in.
With a high football IQ he never missed a beat and became an important contributor to the team’s
success last year.
This season Owen again just barely missed A team cuts. And again, Owen never got
discouraged. In fact, he considered it a gift that would allow him more playing time and better
opportunities to develop his football skills.
He’s been a huge part of the B3 team’s success as a reliable player on both sides of the ball all
year who earned the coaches trust in any position we put him in. While he is a more natural WR,
and CB, Owen stepped up when the team needed him after losing our Middle Linebacker on the
first play of our first game. At barely 100 lbs soaking wet, Owen stepped in as a Middle
Linebacker the next game and recorded 11 tackles and led the team to a win. He’s even jumped
in at TE when needed in one of our formations. Again, never a peep about where he wanted to
play, rather he did whatever the team needed.
This central role has led to typical football injuries – turf toe, plenty of scrapes, bruises and cuts,
and a few broken fingers. Owen never relented and has never missed a practice or game even
though he’s been dinged up since our first game. He played our last 5 games with broken fingers,
but nobody even noticed because he never mentions it and it’s never slowed him down.
Respect and Sportsmanship
Respect is something earned and not given. It’s safe to say that Owen has earned the respect
from his coaches and teammates over the last 3 years. You can ask any of them and they will all
agree. The deference and respect he has for coaches makes him a dream player that any coach
would love to have on their team. He also shows respect for his opponents like none other.
Helping opponents up after tackling them, congratulating them after their good plays and shaking
their hands and chatting with opponents after games and after team handshakes. These are all
great qualities of sportsmanship that set a great example for his teammates. Owen loves to win
and hates to lose. And while he always brings a fierce competitiveness to each and every play
and does everything he can to help the team win, he never “hates” his opponents – instead he
respects their effort and success and is able to show the maturity to communicate that to them.
Dedication and Commitment to Team
Again, anyone that knows Owen will agree that his commitment to team success is his number 1
goal and he puts his individual effort in so that he can help the team in any way he can. No matter
the severity of his injuries, he is always present for the team and contributing in any way he can
to help the team get better.
Academics and Citizenship
Owen is a smart football player and a smart student. He is a consistent learner and works hard to
meet the high expectations of his coaches and teachers. Beyond his stellar grades and being a
consistent honor roll student, all his teachers give him solid reviews and comment on his growth
mindset and curiosity as a learner. He’s a dedicated and proud member of the town of Topsfield
and the Masco community and is always willing to help older neighbors and his local
grandparents with his selfless service. He’s also proud to be a part of Masco Youth football and
every year goes above and beyond selling dozens of raffle tickets to help support the program.
For all of this, I can speak on behalf of past, current and future Coaches and Teachers of the
Masco Community and confidently say Owen embodies everything that Bob Gnoza stood for!