AUGUSTA — The fourth annual Frank J. Gaziano Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards ceremony at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday afternoon was as much a celebration of the awards namesake as it was the winners.
Oak Hill High School’s Luke Washburn won the defensive lineman award, while Jed Scott of Sanford was the offensive winner. Each earned a $5,000 scholarship.
Runners-up of the offensive side were Ethan Liberty of Skowhegan and Greg Grinnell of Cheverus. Defensive runners-up were Mt. Blue’s Colin Richards and Jake Fogel of Portland. Each runner-up was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
Started in 2010, the Gaziano award is in the memory of Frank J. Gaziano, the founder of National Distributors. Gaziano played college football at Holy Cross and played professional football with the Boston Yanks and Washington Redskins, but it’s his passion for helping his community that stuck with the winners.
“(Gaziano’s) kind of been a role model for me, what he did for everyone. Now to be part of that, and to be honored in his name, it’s an honor. I’m so blessed to be here and be part of this. It’s overwhelming,” said Washburn, who helped lead Oak Hill to the Class D state championship last November.
“He definitely teaches younger generations about community, on the field and in the classroom. Always be giving back,” Scott said. “The scholarship is such a big scholarship to receive. Five thousand dollars will definitely help out with college.”
Washburn said he hopes to play college football at the University of Maine, Springfield, or Husson. Scott is considering Assumption, Stonehill and Bentley, as well as Liberty, where he’d forgo football to concentrate on his studies.
Keynote speaker Gabby Price, the head football coach at Husson University, said he’d seen all six finalists play, either in person and on tape, and was impressed with each.
“You’re all certainly deserving of this honor,” Price said. “There’s no group I have more respect for than the linemen.”
Last year’s winners, Kurt Massey of John Bapst and Bobby Begin of Thornton Academy, also offered congratulations and advice to the finalists.
“Success is in front of you,” said Massey, who earned a 4.0 grad point average in his first semester at the University of Maine, where he plays football. “All you have to do is push forward a few yards at a time.”
“Never forget where you’ll be going, because you all will be going to bigger and better things,” Begin said.