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Dagnese Named to State Hall of Fame

By Chris Villani
Sports Reporter/Columnist
Longtime Milford High football coach John Dagnese will add another honor to a distinguished career later this month when he is inducted into the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) Hall of Fame "I was shocked," he said. "This is a very humbling award. It's not something you plan on, but being recognized by your peers makes it pretty special."
Dagnese is the longest serving football coach in Milford High history. He joined the MHS staff in 1975 and he spent a quarter century as an assistant coach before taking over the head coaching position in 1999.
As a head coach, Dagnese lead the Milford football team through a tumultuous time. Realignment forced the program to Central Mass Division 1, which meant playing with much larger schools. Under Dagnese, Milford improved from a 0-11 record in 2002 to a Super Bowl berth in 2005. The Scarlet Hawks lost the 2005 Super Bowl, but went 11-1 and finished as Super Bowl champions in 2006.
"At one time, Milford was the largest school in the league," Dagnese said. "Once they realigned, we were closer to the bottom and that was a challenge. We had some hard times, and in a sports-oriented town like Milford, everyone likes a winner. When you have down times it's tough, but all you can do is put your nose to the grindstone and work as hard as you possibly can and hope the kids buy in."
Dagnese also points out how much it helps to have good mentors. He worked under two coaches who are already inducted into the MSHFCA Hall of Fame, Dick Corbin and Dennis Breen.
"In the entire span of my coaching career, we basically used the same system from when I started in 1975 until I retired," Dagnese said. "I was strongly influenced by Dick, he was a great organizer. Working with those two great coaches, I was a part of six Super Bowl teams. That's certainly not something too many coaches are able to say."
This is not the first Hall of Fame induction for Dagnese. He was recognized by the MHSFCA as an assistant coach in 1996, and went into the Milford High Hall of Fame along with his father, Vincent, in 2013. He is also the fourth Milford head football coach to be inducted, joining Corbin, Breen, and John Calagione.
Dagnese was quick to thank his family for being there as he committed a great deal of time to coaching over the years. He also thanked many of his numerous assistants, including Tom Cullen, PJ Boccia, Steve Matos, John Mainini, Nick Zacchilli, Derek Atherton, Pat Cornelius, and Dave Crescenzi.
"Football is not a sport where anything is accomplished by one individual," Dagnese said. "It's a cooperative effort between all of the coaches, seven days a week. As I look back over my career, you make such a commitment when you're coaching that sometimes your family takes a back seat and that's a tough thing. Hopefully there weren't too many of those instances, but that's the commitment you make when you decide to be a coach."
The extended family has grown, as Dagnese has become close with many of the players he guided through the years. "The most important part of coaching are the relationships formed with the kids, many of which carried on to later in life," he said. "A lot of the kids I have coached I consider to be good friends today. Those kids have allowed Milford to be very successful over the years. Any small part I may have played in that success is terrific."




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