Eight individuals and two teams will be inducted into the Ashland High Hall of Fame in November.
William Cunis and Frank Murphy will be inducted posthumously along with Dennis Baker, Chris Kane, Casandra Wheeher, Dan Paul, Mark Ferrelli and Bob Capistran. The teams to be inducted include the 1966 state champions in baseball and the 1995 football squad that won a Tri Valley League championship and a Super Bowl crown.
“The class to be inducted represents high quality individuals and teams,’’ said Hall of Fame Vice Chairman Paul Capobianco. “They valued athletics and balanced it well with academics. They’re all successful and great ambassadors for Ashland High School and the community.’’
The induction ceremony and dinner is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m. at the Laborers Training Center function hall in Hopkinton. Tickets for the event are $35 each and will be available for purchase in the fall. When the eight players and two teams are inducted, Ashland’s Hall of Fame will have 16 individuals (two of whom are coaches) and three teams.
Following is a capsule look at the prospective inductees:
William “Bill” Cunis (1958) was a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball. Cunis excelled on the diamond at Ashland, leading to a playing career at Boston College. At B.C. he was a sprinter in track and an outfielder for the baseball team that advanced twice to the College World Series. Although he was drafted by the Red Sox in 1962, Cunis chose to return to Ashland in 1963. He began a 38-year teaching career in Ashland and served as a longtime track and cross-country coach. Cunis quickly established one of the most successful programs in the state. The cross-country team went undefeated in dual meets from 1969-1975. They captured nine Tri-Valley League titles and won two Division 4 State Championships under Cunis. In 1986, he was inducted into the Boston College Hall of Fame.
Dennis Baker (1966) was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. He was an all-league tight end on the gridiron, but baseball was where he left his mark. He had a career batting average of .480 in the Dual County League and he captained the 1966 team that finished 20-2, won the DCL, and captured Ashland’s first baseball state championship. Baker received a baseball scholarship to Maryland where he continued his career. He later served Ashland as baseball coach from 1982-1995. His teams combined for 200-plus victories in 14 years. They also won three league championships and Baker was named Boston Globe Coach of the Year in 1990.
Chris Kane (1978) was a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and baseball. As a captain and team MVP in basketball, he led the Clockers in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game. However, in football he was the quarterback and punter on the 1977 squad that finished the regular season undefeated and won the Tri Valley League title before losing to Hull in the Super Bowl. Kane later played at Framingham State. In his four-year grid career at Framingham State, he set school records in passing and punting. He later served as physical education teacher, head football coach, and eventually athletic director at Keefe Tech.
Casandra Wheeler (1987) is considered by many to be Ashland’s premier female track and field star of the 1980s. Wheeler was a Tri-Valley League all-star in the high jump and the hurdles three times. The triple jump was her best event. She earned TVL all-star honors four times in the triple jump and was a Boston Globe All-Scholastic in the event in 1986. That was when Wheeler captured a New England title with her school record of 37 feet, 2 inches. In addition to her school record in the triple jump, she also owns school records in the long jump (16-9) the high jump (5-6), and the 100-meter hurdles (14.9). Wheeler also played field hockey for the Clockers.
The 1966 baseball team posted a 20-2 record. Coached by Massachusetts’ Hall of Fame skipper Clem Spillane and his assistant, Al Adams, the club finished as Dual County League Champions. Tournament success included victories over Immaculate Conception of Revere and Bourne and the Clockers defeated Norton for the state title. Ashland High’s athletic Hall of Famer Dennis Baker and fellow co-captain Jim Poole led the way for the Clockers. Other senior teammates included Mike Pierce and Bruce Heider. Pat Fitzgerald, Dennis Fairweather, Steve Willard, Bob Mucha, Larry Dickens, Joe Markarian, Ernie Sannicandro, Mark Iarussi, Larry Piccioli, Earl McLaughlin, and Bill Ellsworth all contributed as underclassmen.
Dan Paul (1986) is Ashland’s most successful wrestler, compiling a career record of 107-10-2. In 1985, Paul completed the wrestling triple crown, winning sectional, state, and New England titles in becoming the first and only Ashland wrestler to accomplish that feat. Paul’s state title extended the streak to a program record three straight years of individual state champs. Paul finished the season with an unprecedented 45-0 record. He capped it off by becoming the second New England Champion in Ashland wrestling history. Injuries forced Paul off the mat in his senior season, but he had already become Ashland’s most-decorated wrestler.
The 1995 football team compiled a 10-1 overall record. Led by Massachusetts Hall of Fame coach Kevin Maines and his assistants (Thomas Burns, Daniel Provost, Dave DiGirolamo, Mark Curran, Chris Lytle, and Dan DiGirolamo), the club finished as Tri Valley League champions, and after defeating Trinity Catholic, they captured the Division 6B Super Bowl title. The Clockers defense held opponents to 7.9 points a game and the offense averaged 24 points a game. Major contributors who garnered league and district recognition included Mark Ferrelli, Mike Hackett, Jason Meade, James Madden III, Dave Waldstein, Tyler Perry, Mark Vendetti, James Cisneros, Ryan Donahue, Jack Santos, Juan Sepulveda, and Tim Wilson.
Mark Ferrelli (1996) was a two-sport captain for the Clockers in baseball and football. In baseball, he batted .559 and went 7-1 as a starting pitcher on the 1996 South Sectional finalist squad. On the gridiron, Ferrelli shined. Starring as an offensive and defensive lineman, Ferrelli earned Tri Valley League all-star honors and was a Division 6 all-star in 1994 and 1995. The 1995 co-captain led the Clockers to victory in the Division 6B Super Bowl. He was selected as the Tri Valley League Lineman of the Year, Middlesex News first team all-star, Boston Herald all-scholastic, and Boston Globe all-scholastic.
Bob Capistran (1984) was a talented multi-sport athlete and leader. He served as team captain in football, wrestling, and baseball. On the gridiron, Capistran was a factor in all three phases of the game, competing as a receiver, cornerback, punter, and returner. On the diamond, he was an outstanding shortstop. On the mat, he was dominant, finishing the 1984 wrestling season with a 34-1 record, a sectional championship, and a state championship. Capistran was a Boston Globe all-scholastic honorable mention in wrestling and was voted most athletic in the Class of 1984. He also received the Ashland High School sportsmanship award in 1984.
Frank Murphy (1938) has been identified and selected as a prospective inductee by the Old-Timers Committee. The committee is seeking the help of the community to complete his biography. Contact them with any information on Frank Murphy and all other deserving Ashland athletes who graduated before 1960. For contact information, visit the website: https://ashlandathletichall.weebly.com/