Thornton Academy quarterback Michael Laverriere fulfilled a longtime goal Sunday when he was named the 46th winner of the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, given to the top high school senior in Maine football.

“After my freshman season, I got to witness this event,” he said. “Ben Lucas won that year, and I went home that night and I really set that as a goal that I wanted to win (the Fitzpatrick Trophy) my senior year.”

“(Thornton) always had a semifinalist or finalist, so the past four years I’ve gotten to come here. Those great players before me kind of set the example.”

Portland’s Dylan Bolduc and Brewer’s Trey Wood were the other finalists. Bolduc led Portland to the Class A North title, rushing for 1,464 yards and 19 touchdowns while leading the Bulldogs in tackles (134). Wood, a tailback/middle linebacker, became the first Brewer player to be named a finalist after he rushed for 2,014 yards and 27 touchdowns and recorded 83 tackles.

“It’s hard to get to the final three and it’s really an honor,” Bolduc said. “If you look at the past finalists, they’re all very talented players, and just to be at that level is an honor.”

The other eight semifinalists were also in attendance at the banquet at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. Each semifinalist was introduced and recognized for his achievements.

The Fitzpatrick Trophy, named for former Portland High coach and educator James J. Fitzpatrick, began in 1971 and is supported through a trust established by Julius “Yudy” Elowitch. A 1931 graduate of Portland, Elowitch played for Fitzpatrick and credited him as a key mentor. Elowitch, who died in 2005, went on to form Maine Rubber International.

Laverriere, a four-year varsity player who also played safety, is weighing college football offers from the University of Maine, Fordham, Assumption and Springfield.

Last fall, Laverriere carried the offense in his first season as the starting quarterback. He rushed for 1,384 yards and 20 touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per carry, as Thornton went 7-2. He completed 49 of 86 passes for 813 yards and seven touchdowns. As a safety, he was in on 63 tackles, five for a loss, while making three interceptions.

Thornton reached the Class A South semifinals, losing a thriller to Scarborough, 36-29. Laverriere put Thornton ahead for the first time with 1:44 remaining on a 19-yard touchdown run – his third of the game – and 2-point conversion, but Scarborough rallied to score the winning touchdown.

“Here at Thornton, we always judge players by how they play in the biggest games,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “In our three biggest games this year, one against (eventual state champion) Bonny Eagle and two against Scarborough, Michael averaged 260 yards of offense and scored nine touchdowns.”

Laverriere was also chosen as the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year, the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the USA Today Maine Offensive Player of the Year.

As former University of Maine coach Jack Cosgrove paused before reading the winner’s name, Bolduc, Laverriere and Wood each sat quietly, looking straight ahead.

“I could feel my heart coming out of my shirt a little bit,” Laverriere said, allowing himself a small smile afterward. “It was pumping hard and I definitely felt it and was definitely nervous, but I’m glad I won.”

Laverriere pointed to Thornton’s state championships in 2014 and 2015 as the memories he would most cherish.

“Winning two state championships with my team, that’s quite an accomplishment, and I’m proud to represent Thornton Academy in that way.”

The last Fitzpatrick Trophy winner from Thornton was Art Leveris in 1991. Bob Giroux (1986) is the only other past Thornton winner.

“Art Leveris was the last guy and my coaches have told me about what he was like,” Laverriere said. “He was a hard football player and they say I kind of play like him a little bit. It’s a great opportunity to bring this (trophy) back to Thornton.”

About 40 Laverriere supporters – family, friends, coaches and teammates – were in attendance, including his mother, Michele, his father, Chris, and his brother, Daniel, 16.

“He is a very quiet, reserved person off the field,” said Nick Bartholomew, Thornton’s center.

“But on the field he is the exact opposite of that. He’s one of the most passionate guys I’ve ever played with. Has a great love for the game and is probably the hardest worker I know.”

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