Andrew Bardak stepped to the podium and delivered a spot-on speech. The rugged St. Anthony’s linebacker earned Newsday’s Rich Reichert Award as the CHSFL’s top player this year and now he was accepting another prestigious honor — the Conrad Metzger Top Scholar Athlete from the National Football Foundation at a brunch held Sunday in the Melville Marriott.
Bardak owned the room as he talked about accountability, leadership qualities, all-in hard work and effort, the positive effect of teamwork and responsibility. It was no surprise that the CHSFL's top scholar athlete will attend West Point in the fall.
The Newsday All-Long Island football selection and a state CHSAA wrestling champion will play neither football nor wrestle in college. He will play for the Army’s rugby team.
“As much as I’ll miss those sports, I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life and being a part of the rugby team at West Point,” Bardak said. “I will focus on my education and be the best soldier that I can possibly be.”
Bardak credited the support and guidance of his father, St. Anthony’s football coach Joe Minucci, who also serves as the school’s director of athletics, and the school administration for his success.
“He’s a special student-athlete,” Minucci said. “He’s that once in a lifetime kid that comes through the school and makes a major impact. We’re so proud of him and we look forward to his future success.”
Bardak finished his football season with 65 total tackles, including 11 for a loss, two sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and one recovery.
The James C. Metzger Suffolk County Chapter recognized co-winners for the Conrad Metzger Top Scholar Athlete Awards. Carson Tessitore of East Islip, who earned the defensive MVP Award in the Long Island Class III championship game, gave an impassioned speech about his family and teammates.
Tessitore carried a weighted average of 104 and scored a 1,380 on his SAT and will play football at Utica College in the fall.
Bellport defensive end Calvin Pedatella shared the top award with a weighted average of 102 and was ranked second in his graduating class. The Clippers captain was also a Newsday All-Long Island selection and will attend Williams College in the fall.
Suffolk also announced its Golden 11, which included Elias Barrett of Half Hollow Hills East, Brian Benson of Floyd, Matthew Bonfanti of Sayville, James Carretta of Mount Sinai, Paul Loguercio of Center Moriches, Dylan Sas of Hauppauge, Liam Villanti of Whitman, Robbie Smith of Huntington, Brenden O’Connor of Lindenhurst, Jonathan Borkowski of Kings Park, Kevin Dolan of Ward Melville, Nicholas Esposito of Deer Park, Luke Filippi of Port Jefferson, Konrad Maciejny of West Islip, Dylan McNaughton of Northport, Cody Miller of Rocky Point, Thomas Stueber of Chaminade and Cole Blatter of Comsewogue.
“We expanded the total of honorees in Suffolk because this group was the most competitive class we’ve ever had,” said Len Genova, the president of the Suffolk chapter of the NFF. “We had so many candidates that met the criteria that we’ve used historically in our 27 years on Long Island. And we didn’t want to leave anyone out.”
The Nassau County Chapter of the National Football Foundation honored the Golden 11 earlier this year. They were Quinn Broggy of Syosset, Liam Farrell of Clarke. Joaquin Llaurado of Floral Park, Ryan Mastropaolo of Island Trees, James McHugh of Seaford, Charlie McKee of Oceanside, Eric Orbon of New Hyde Park, Drew Palladino of Wantagh, Brian Surless of East Meadow, Charles Tauckus of Cold Spring Harbor and Brady West of South Side.
Brendan Staub of Garden City earned the Jay Fiedler Top Scholar Athlete Award in Nassau. The two-time Newsday All-Long Island selection was a captain for the Long Island Class II champions. The two-way star at offensive line and defensive end scored a 36 on his ACT.
Staub, who also earned the Martone Award as Nassau’s top lineman, will attend the Dyson School of Business at Cornell.