PORTLAND — Whose name will be added to the long list of James. J. Fitzpatrick Trophy winners? Later today, we’ll find out as the winner will be announced at the annual banquet at the Holiday Inn By The Bay.

Will it be Spencer Cooke of Cheverus, the tall running back with breakaway speed? Jordan Hersom, the talented quarterback and defensive back from Leavitt? Or Louie DiTomasso of Wells, who led the Warriors with his running and tackling to their first state title in 14 seasons.

They are the finalists for the 41st trophy, named for Fitzpatrick, a legendary coach at Portland High and before that a standout athlete at Boston College.

The trophy, often referred to as the Heisman Trophy of Maine, goes to the top high school senior football player in the state in voting by coaches and the media. In 1996, the award was opened up to senior players in Classes A, B and C.

Yudy Elowitch started the award in 1971 as a way of honoring Fitzpatrick, his coach at Portland. Elowitch credits Fitzpatrick with teaching him many of the qualities that enabled him to become a successful athlete and later a businessman in southern Maine. Elowitch died in 2005, but the banquet continues to be underwritten by the Elowitch family.

The banquet begins at noon. Those in attendance will hear each head coach of the finalists talk about their candidate in the way of introduction. Then each finalist will get their turn at the microphone. After that, the envelope with the winner’s name will be opened and announced.

As has been the custom in recent years, the Fitzy winner from 25 years ago will be guest speaker and presenter. Those honors will fall to Bob Giroux of Thornton Academy, the 1986 winner.

Cooke hopes to be his school’s repeat winner. A year ago, quarterback Peter Gwilym of the Stags took home the trophy. Cooke was one of the state’s top running backs in the regular season. In the final regular-season game, he broke a bone in his lower leg and missed the regional playoffs before making a cameo appearance in the state final which the Stags won handily.

Cooke’s performances in his first eight games spoke volumes of the player he is. It was a continuation of his strong junior season. Voters often look at a player’s entire career rather than just his senior season in making a decision.

As a senior, Cooke scored 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,117 yards. In two seasons, he has rushed for over 2,000 yards.

Hersom played on a Class B state championship team as a sophomore and was on state runners-up his junior season and last fall. He has been a starting defensive back since his freshman year. He has played both ways since his sophomore year. First as a slot receiver as a sophomore and the last two seasons as quarterback. With Hersom at QB the last two seasons, the Hornets were 22-2.

Hersom is bidding to become the first Leavitt player to win the award and the second in his family, His cousin, Jack, a quarterback-defensive back from Lawrence, won the Fitzpatrick Trophy in 2007.

“I’ve been looking forward to it,” Hersom said. “Being a finalist I feel provides good recognition for our team. It should be enjoyable and a chance to celebrate with the other finalists on our seasons.”

Hersom said he has talked with his cousins Jack and twins Tom and Mike about the banquet.

“They’ve wished me good luck and told me to enjoy the experience. There aren’t a lot of kids who get this opportunity so I feel pretty fortunate to be recognized,” Hersom said.

Hersom passed for 1,630 yards and 16 touchdowns. He scored 10 touchdowns and averaged 8.7 yards a carry. He scored 176 points. As a defensive back, he made 56 tackles and had two interceptions,

DiTomasso, a fullback-linebacker, would be the first Wells player to win the trophy. He has already collected his share of postseason awards, having been named the Maine Sunday Telegram high school football MVP, the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the Campbell Conference Class B Player of the Year.

DiTomasso scored 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,350 yards. At linebacker, he had 133 tackles.

“I was fortunate to have been on a strong team which put me in a good position to succeed,” he said.


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