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Wave’s Bartak named Dagenais Award winner

Zach Bartak picked up some illustrious hardware on Tuesday night.

The Greenfield High School quarterback was named the Norman S. Dagenais Award winner as the Most Outstanding Football Player in Western Massachusetts during the 57th presentation of the award in Springfield.

“It’s an honor,” Bartak said of receiving the award. “But winning this is also a credit to our team this season. You can’t leave them out. Some of our guys definitely don’t get enough credit, but I wouldn’t be anything without this team. We’re a family, and winning this award is for all the guys.”

Bartak enjoyed a senior season that saw him pass for 1,427 yards and 17 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,108 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those numbers helped him become just the third player in Franklin County history to pass for and rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. He led the Green Wave to an 8-2 record in the regular season (6-2 in the Intercounty League), and a berth in the WMass Division III playoffs, their eight wins marking the first time the team enjoyed that many victories since 2004. Greenfield head coach Mike Kuchieski said that for Bartak to earn the award despite not playing in one of the top football divisions is a credit to his hard work all season.

“He gained a lot of respect for himself, his school and his community,” Kuchieski said. “He deserved it and I’m proud to be able to say that I coached him for four years. A lot of the student athletes that have won this award are outstanding young men.”

Bartak became the fourth player in Greenfield history to win the Dagenais Award since it first started being handed out back in 1956. The award was originally created for Springfield Trade High School and Putnam Vocational High School athletes, but was opened up to the Suburban League in 1972 and then all of Western Massachusetts in 1998. No other Franklin County-area team has ever had an athlete win the award.

Ken Suhl became the first-ever player from Greenfield to earn the honor in 1987, and two years later Kyle Phelps earned the award. Peter Bergeron was the most recent winner from Greenfield, picking up the award in 1995. The reigning award winner is Putnam running back Melquawn Pinkney.

Suhl went on to a record-setting football career at the University of New Haven after he graduated from Greenfield, and he later went on to have a successful professional playing and coaching career in Europe. Bartak is being recruited by multiple Division II and III colleges for next season but has yet to make a decision.

Dagenais graduated from Springfield Trade High School in 1948, entered the U.S. Marine Corps and was killed Sept. 3, 1950 during the Korean War.

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