At Seymour, The Raven says ‘nevermore’; Small, Derby win 49-28


John Commune was a 17-year old junior at Seymour High School in 1968 when new football coach Dan Heffernan asked him to compile statistics for the team.

Commune, who had served as team manager under previous coach Joe Gesseck, accepted and, for 45 years, spanning two more coaches, four state championships, not to mention a lifetime of memories, he never left the Seymour sidelines.

Until now.

Commune, whose name adorns the Seymour press box just below that of the football field’s namesake John T. DeBarber, added up his final rushing and passing totals and called the games into the local newspapers for the final time from Seymour High School.

The 62-year old Commune, affectionately known as ‘The Raven’ since high school, has decided to hang up his clipboard after the season.

He has two more games as Seymour statistician. After the Cats play at Woodland on Thanksgiving, he’s officially retired.

“I’m getting old,” said Commune, who owns the Norwood Athletic Club in Ansonia. “It’s time to pass it off to a younger generation.”

Commune witnessed several generations of athletes walk in and out of the doors at Seymour. He served under Heffernan for 12 years and a state championship in 1979. He saw Seymour win three more state championships under his former Seymour classmate and good friend Paul Sponheimer. Commune also helped the Seymour baseball and basketball teams with their statistics, as well.

All told, Commune says he’s only missed two games during his time as statistician.

“This is the end of an era of Seymour athletics,” said Sponheimer, who has been friends with Commune since their Biddy basketball playing days. “Behind the scenes, John Commune is Seymour. And we’re all going to miss him.”

For his years of service, The Raven received a short and sweet send off before the Cats hosted Derby in a Monday night NVL game.

Seymour coach Tom Lennon told the crowd Commune “exemplifies everything it means to be a Wildcat. He’s probably the best gift Coach Sponheimer left me.”

The two friends didn’t go out without getting in a few jokes.

“Now I can tell you, all of those flags thrown at this sideline didn’t always belong to me,” Sponheimer said.

“They were all his,” Raven said.

As for the game, Seymour had a 21-12 lead over Derby early in the third quarter. But the Red Raiders rallied behind a monster day by Tyrae Small, who ran for 273 yards (just four yards off of the school record) and four touchdowns.

Derby (5-3) is now all fired up about being one victory away from its first winning season since 1996, back when coach George French was a sophomore.

The Red Raiders play Crosby and then finish off with Shelton. They haven’t beaten the Gaels since 2002.

Elsewhere, Week 8 finally came to a close. We delve into Week 9 with a few playoff clinchers and teams close to reaching the promised land.

Monday’s Results

  • CSC: Bullard Havens Tech 48, O’Brien Tech 0
  • ECC: Windham 21, Waterford 15
  • NVL: Derby 49, Seymour 28
  • PEQUOT: Cromwell 15, Old Saybrook/Westbrook 14
Sean Patrick Bowley