GLEN ROCK, NJ - Football player Ashton Dalessio is inspired by his brother, and little did he know how much others were noticing.

Ashton is being considered for a 2018 USA Football Heart of a Giant Award award presented by Hospital for Special Surgery and NY Giants. The organization just announced their fifth set of ten outstanding Tri-State area high school football player nominees open for voting. These students have been nominated by their coaches for their commitment, teamwork, will, character and dedication.

Voting for these nominees will be open for 25 days with final vote tally determining who will be named the group’s finalist. 

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Click here to vote: http://usafootball.com/heartofagiant

One grand prize winner will be selected based on video submissions stating why they have the Heart of a Giant and will be honored on the field during a New York Giants’ home game.  All six finalists will receive $1,500 for their high school’s football program, with the winner’s school getting an additional $3,500.

For more information on the program, click here.

WEEK 1 NOMINEES

Ashton Dalessio; Glen Rock High School (Glen Rock, NJ)

Ashton is inspired by his younger brother Quinn, who is severely Autistic, and brings him along on his journey as an athlete. “Quinn has limited speech, his muscles are painfully underdeveloped; he will never be able to enjoy the day to day activities like me," Ashton said. "The only way Quinn will be able to experience these things is if I bring him along with me on my journey.”

Jake Colon; Wood-Ridge High School (Wood-Ridge, NJ)

Jake is a young man that takes nothing for granted. He has a 3.5 GPA and spends many nights studying to keep his grades up. “He is an unassuming person who has asked for many of the school records to have an opportunity to put himself in the record book. Jake spends time with our youth program which helps to make the Young Blue Devils better players and better people,” head football coach Charlie Trenacosti stated.  

Justin Brower; Herricks High School (New Hyde Park, NY)

“Whether or not Justin is selected for this award, he has the HEART of a GIANT!” coach Michael Yoo excitedly says of his player.  He's a young man who they convinced to come out for football. Not necessarily because he could help us but because we thought football would be good for him. As a 6'2, 245 lb. lineman, Justin looks the part. But putting on the pads for the first time last year as a junior, they had concerns of whether he could stick it out. He struggled to get into a stance... He struggled to get out of a stance... He struggled to get through the first practice. So much that none of the coaches thought he would return the next day... And sure enough, day 2 last year... Justin showed up.

Anthony Gambino; Eastport-South Manor (Shirley, NY)

He played through a knee injury last year and had to have it repaired, while rehabbing he kept the offseason program rolling along, being the conduit between the coach and the players. He recruited and made sure his teammates were held accountable. Head football coach Bill Ashton states “We’re looking for Anthony to do great things for us this year!”

Douglas Guilford; Hopkins School (New Haven, CT)

“Douglas Guilford is a young man of absolutely unshakable character.  He is dedicated to being the best version of himself in everything he does,” said Hopkins School head football coach Timothy Phipps.  Last season Doug lead our team in rushing yards and was a force on defense. He did all of this with what we would later find out was an broken hand. Mid way through the season, our Running back coach passed away after a battle with colon cancer. This devastated Doug as he was very close to his position coach. Despite all of this Doug carried on and never wavered in what he had to do for our team. Shortly after our season ended, Doug lost two of his grandparents within weeks of each other and was also told that he could not wrestle because his hand required surgery. For most people this would be enough to make them to quit. Not Doug, he pressed on.

Cameron Lynch; Sachem East High School (Farmingville, NY)

“Anthony is one of the best and most instinctive football players that I have ever coached,” said Mepham head football coach Anthony Cracco.  Unfortunately, nothing has come easy for him. He has faced injuries in each of his first three seasons at Mepham. While most players would have sulked or given up on the sport after facing such tough luck Anthony worked harder and looked for ways to overcome adversity. Last season Anthony played through a High Ankle sprain down the stretch to help lead his team to their first Championship game in over 2 decades.

Luca Mara; North Shore High School (Glen Head, NY)

At 7 years old Luca lost his father. He battled through difficult times and has grown into a fine young man. He became a true leader and someone who brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm to his team. “While he is an outstanding receiver and athlete it is because of his character there is no one more deserving of the distinction of ‘Heart of a Giant’” passionately stated by coach Daniel Agovino, head football coach at North Shore High School.

Harlen Nolasco; North Shore High School (Glen Head, NY)

Harlen’s achievements come in the face of adversity. Harlen is raised in a single parent household in a low income neighborhood in the Bronx, New York. He does everything in his power to excel and lead and does an excellent job of it. “He is the unquestioned leader of our team this year. In my ten years of coaching, I have not met an athlete that has worked harder, been more coach-able, or more respected by his peers than Harlen, “ states head football coach David Villegas.

Anthony Novello; Mepham HS (Bellmore, NY)

“Anthony is one of the best and most instinctive football players that I have ever coached,” said Mepham head football coach Anthony Cracco.  Unfortunately, nothing has come easy for him. He has faced injuries in each of his first three seasons at Mepham. While most players would have sulked or given up on the sport after facing such tough luck Anthony worked harder and looked for ways to overcome adversity. Last season Anthony played through a High Ankle sprain down the stretch to help lead his team to their first Championship game in over 2 decades.

James Ramacca; St. Anthony’s High School (South Huntington, NY)

James is the hardest working kid on and off the field stresses head football coach Richard Reichert of St. Anthony’s High School.  He had an injury last year which sidelined him a bit but with hard work and perseverance he came back stronger. He set his sights on a starting varsity position and didn’t let up. He managed to make the 1000lb club as a sophomore. Furthermore,  school doesn’t come as easy. James is dyslexic and works hard to keep up. He also has been attending Giant Games since he was born and would Love nothing more than to step out on that field.