Since its inception in 1971, the Fitzpatrick Trophy has been dominated by quarterbacks and running backs.
Guess what? That’s not going to change for the 43rd awarding of the trophy called Maine’s Heisman.
Ben Lucas, a quarterback from Cony High of Augusta, Nicco DeLorenzo, a running back from Kennebunk and Justin Zukowski, a running back from Portland, are the finalists for the trophy that goes to the top senior high school football player in the state.
They emerged as the top vote-getters in balloting by the state’s coaches and media.
The ballot had the names of 12 semifinalists chosen by the Fitzpatrick selection committee from nominations submitted by the state’s head coaches.
The winner will be announced Jan. 19 at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland.
Lucas, DeLorenzo and Zukowski will be at the head table, nervously waiting to give their speeches, then having to wait a while longer for the announcement.
The banquet also honors the nine other semifinalists. As has been the tradition at recent banquets, the trophy winner from 25 years ago speaks on what it meant. That honor will go to Kirk Mathieu, the 1988 winner from Lawrence High of Fairfield.
Only one lineman has won the Fitzpatrick Trophy: Gerry Raymond of Lewiston in 1977. Raymond went on to play at Boston College. Last year’s winner was Donald Goodrich, a running back from Cheverus.
Lucas finished off a record- setting career by leading Cony to the Class B state title with a 30-23 win over Kennebunk, passing for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. In his final season, Lucas threw for 41 touchdowns and 3,482 yards. In three years he had 89 touchdown passes and threw for 7,700 yards.
Cony never has had a Fitzpatrick winner, but receiver Chandler Shostak was a finalist a year ago.
“It’s a pretty special feeling,” said Lucas of being a finalist. “I’m humbled and honored.”
Lucas already has been chosen the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year. He is a potential scholarship player in college and is considering a number of schools.
Zukowski, who also played linebacker and was on all special teams, was the leading rusher in Eastern Class A with 1,624 yards. He scored 27 touchdowns and was named the Eastern Class A Player of the Year.
Zukowski played several positions on defense but was mostly at middle linebacker. He helped the Bulldogs reach the Eastern Maine final against Cheverus. On Tuesday, Zukowski learned he received early acceptance to Bates College.
When he learned he was a finalist, Zukowski said: “That’s awesome. I’m just honored to be in the top 12. To be in the top three is pretty cool.”
The Bulldogs have had four trophy winners – Mike Rutherford, Shaun Hawkins, Joe D’Andrea and Carl Frye – and the trophy is named after Jimmy Fitzpatrick, a legendary coach and mentor at Portland High from the late 1920s through the 1950s.
“My teammates would mention winning the trophy this season, which added to the pressure,” said Zukowski. “Playing games helped to keep my mind off it. The other two are very good candidates.”
DeLorenzo started at linebacker as a freshman and became a two-way starter the next year. This season his outstanding two-way play enabled the Rams to have one of their best seasons, going 11-1 and nearly bringing home the Gold Ball.
DeLorenzo was a battering runner who scored 21 touchdowns and gained 1,400 yards. On defense he was a run stopper and pass defender.
On Tuesday, DeLorenzo was accepted in an early decision to Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.
Kennebunk never has had a trophy winner. Ethan Drigotas was a finalist in 2010.
“I’m extremely excited,” said DeLorenzo. “I’ve worked pretty hard. Being a finalist is a good reflection on Kennebunk football.”
DeLorenzo said his goals during the season were team goals.
“Everything I did was for getting to the state final and winning. This is a bonus,” said DeLorenzo.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: