Warren Smith was named the starting quarterback for the University of Maine on Sunday, emerging from a preseason competition with former Portland High standout Chris Treister.

“The timing of the decision is based on the closeness of the competition,” said Maine Coach Jack Cosgrove, whose team opens its season Thursday night at home against Albany.

“It’s one of those choices made difficult because of the level of the competition. It just came down to a slight edge.”

Smith had a breakout year in 2009, helping Maine become the most prolific passing team in the Colonial Athletic Association after taking over as the starter four games into the season.

A junior from Forked River, N.J., he transferred to Maine when Iona dropped its football program following the 2008 season.

Smith threw for 1,695 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games before suffering a season-ending foot injury. He also threw 13 interceptions.

Treister, also a junior, started the last two games and put together two fine performances.

In his debut against Rhode Island, Treister set a school record for completions, going 40 of 46 for 468 yards and five touchdowns. He passed for 303 yards and two touchdowns in the season finale against New Hampshire.

The pair battled one another during preseason and were told before practice Sunday afternoon that Smith would be No. 1.

“I feel like we both left it out on the field,” said Smith. “We both competed at such a high level, I feel like it helped out the football team in a good way.

“The tough part is someone had to make a decision. Chris became one of my very, very close friends over the past year and I know he wants to be out there just as bad as I do.

“He’s a strong individual. Now we have to move on, and I know Chris will help this team every way possible. His presence out there will help the team.”

Treister said he was disappointed he will not be able to start for the scores of friends, family and fans who have supported him through the ups and downs of his career, but that he also did everything he possibly could in an effort to earn the starting job.

“I feel like I put myself in a position to play over the offseason and summer,” said Treister. “I worked as hard as I could, so I don’t have regrets.

“It’s tough to swallow, but we both knew the stakes going into camp.”

Cosgrove said the evaluation by the coaching staff went down to the wire because of what both players were able to do during preseason.

“One guy (has to be chosen as) the one,” said Cosgrove. “You don’t expect everybody to like (hearing that). You just have to ask them to support it.”

Smith, who had two bones fused together in his foot, said he is moving around well and is ready to go Thursday.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]