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Ponaganset High School Athletic Hall of Fame

Induction Class of 2016

Anthony DeCesare Jr.

Class of 1979

Ice Hockey

Tony was first introduced to the sport of Hockey at age 5 by his father Anthony E. DeCesare Sr. His father was a standout hockey player at LaSalle Academy in Providence, RI.  Inspired by his fathers’ on ice achievements, Tony followed in his father’s skate marks and carved out a highly successful Hockey career both on the ice and on the bench.

Tony transferred to Ponaganset High School, as a sophomore, from LaSalle Academy in 1976. He was a walk-on halfway through the season and began to contribute to the Red Rabitor Chieftains program immediately. During the 1977-1978 season, Tony’s Junior year, it was evident he was going to become a dominant player not only in the Suburban Division but statewide. His standout performances on the ice garnered him the following recognition;

Providence Journal High School Star of the Week, Met B / Suburban Division All Star Team, Rhode Island Inter-Scholastic League Coach’s 2nd Team All Suburban Division, Woonsocket Call 2nd Team All Suburban Division. These accomplishments, coupled with the biggest night of his High School Hockey career being a 3 goal 4 assist game vs. Central High School, set the stage for his upcoming Senior year domination.

During his Senior year, 1978-1979, Tony’s achievements were unparalleled for a Defenseman, at any Division level, throughout the state. In (18) regular season games, he averaged 3 points per game for a remarkable (54) total points for a Defenseman. This accomplishment proved to be the highest tally for a Defenseman in the Rhode Interscholastic Hockey League encompassing all Divisions. The accolades from his coach Denny Ballou, began to tell the story of his unprecedented on ice achievements. “Tony has a great slap shot from the point. I don’t think there’s a better offensive defenseman in our league”. As the season wore on, the Woonsocket Call took notice as well “Local hockey fans have known for several seasons that Ponaganset Defenseman Tony DeCesare is one of the most talented hockey players in the area. This year he has proved it”. Tony turned in the best performance of the season in the state when he notched six goals and added an assist against West Warwick High School. Chieftain Coach Denny Ballou remarked “Tony’s been playing superb hockey and leading by example”. Tony’s most memorable highlight, of his Senior year, was notching the game winning goal vs Johnston in the semi-finals sending the Chieftains to the finals against Central High School. Although the Chieftains were beat in overtime in game 3, Tony’s Senior season was one for the record books.

Tony’s Senior year recognition included; Rhode Island Inter-Scholastic League Coaches 1st Team All Division. Woonsocket Call 1st Team All Division. Observer 1st Team All Division. Best Defenseman Award, North Smithfield Holiday Tournament. Ponaganset Men’s Hockey Team MVP. Providence Journal High School Star of the Week, Woonsocket Call Player of the Week. The Warwick Beacon recognized Tony as 2nd Team All State, stating “DeCesare was the Suburban Divisions lone representative on the All State teams and was the Inter Scholastic Leagues answer to Bobby Orr”. And the records continued…..Highest goals for a defenseman in Rhode Island (31). Highest points for a Defenseman in Rhode Island (54 pts.), Leading goal and point’s scorer for Ponaganset High School (54 pts.), Woonsocket Call Scoring Race runner up (54 pts.). 5th Leading Point Scorer in Rhode Island Inter Scholastic Hockey League (54 pts.). 4th Leading Point Scorer Suburban Division (54 pts.), Truly culminating in one of the most prolific careers in Ponaganset High School’s Hockey history.

Upon graduating from Ponaganset High School, Tony continued his hockey career earning a (4) year athletic hockey scholarship to attend St. Anselm’s College in Manchester NH.  Tony graduated from St. Anselm’s College in 1983 earning a BA in Business and Economics. He soon returned to his High School Alma Mater, Ponaganset High as Varsity Head Hockey Coach in 1986. As the Woonsocket Call acknowledged at the time “Tony DeCesare was one of the greatest hockey players in Ponaganset High history” he was hoping there was some magic left to pass along. Although the years between 1986 and 1989 were lean and frustrating, the hard work finally paid dividends. In 1990 he led the Chieftains to the finals against Johnston High School finishing as runner up. He then returned with a vengeance in 1991 to lead the Chieftains to the first Undefeated (17-0) season in Ponaganset High’s Hockey history and claiming the Class D Championship. This Undefeated season record still stands to this day.

Today, Tony is joined by his wife Tammy and their daughter Sierra Alexis living a full life proud of his past accomplishments with humility and a continued love for the sport that brought him many memorable experiences, friendships and lasting life lessons.

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