Dan Orlovsky, one of the best to ever wear Shelton’s black-and-orange football jersey, returned to Finn Stadium last Friday night.
Orlovsky was unable to make it back to Shelton for the Inaugural Shelton High School Hall of Fame banquet on Sept. 16, and was instead inducted during halftime of Shelton’s 31-20 victory over North Haven Friday night.
Orlovsky’s family — including wife, Tiffany, and four children — joined him for his return to Shelton’s gridiron, his first trip back in longer than he could remember.
“I couldn’t even put a number on it,” he said of how long it had been since he visited Finn Stadium. “Long time, at least a decade.”
It was fitting that Orlovsky was recognized on the football field where he led one of the best Gael teams ever, the 2000 team that went 12-0 and defeated Greenwich, 22-8, to win the Class LL state championship.
In his three-year Shelton varsity career, Orlovsky completed 341-of-559 passes for 5,265 yards and 51 touchdowns in guiding Shelton to a 28-3-1 record.
In his senior year alone, he threw for 2,385 yards and 24 touchdowns, against only 5 interceptions. He was named Connecticut’s 2000 Gatorade Player of the Year.
“Great memories,” he said. “The Thanksgiving Day games against Derby. The game against New Britain in the playoffs. The Olenoski play. This is where it very much started for me.”
Orlovsky went on to star at UConn and recently retired after a 12-year NFL career.
Orlovsky doesn’t leave with any regrets about the end of his football career as a player.
“I was ready to be done with football,” he said. “I had contemplated retiring throughout the past year, past couple years. It was my time.
“I am actually enjoying being able to do the stuff I’ve never been able to do. I am in a good place about it.”
It was anything but a “be there for the halftime induction and dash” scenario for Orlovsky on Friday.
“Dan talked to all the athletes in the school eighth period,” said Shelton football coach Jeff Roy, who was an assistant coach when Orlovsky played. “Nice motivational speech to them.”
Orlovsky arrived at Finn Stadium well before Friday’s game started, and stayed for most of the football game, talking to many grade school football players on the sidelines and taking pictures.
He also got to spend time with his former football coach Joe Benanto.
“We had a chance to talk and reminisce,” Orlovsky said. “I am so thankful for him and the impact he had on me. He gave me such an advantage going into college in how he taught me.”
For Orlovsky, it was just nice to come back home to Shelton — “Now that I’m older and have a family of my own and I don’t live in this town, I realize how awesome of a town it was and still is, and how cool of a sports town it is, especially football-wise, and how much of an impact that had on me as a player.”