After playing his worst half of the season, which happened to be in the biggest game of his young career, Ben Lucas of Cony took ownership of his performance at halftime, telling teammates he would play better in the second half and they would win.
Lucas did play better, much better, and Cony did win 30-23 over Kennebunk to claim the Class B state football championship.
Lucas, a 6-foot-4 senior quarterback, passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the second half as the Rams overcame a 6-0 halftime deficit that grew to 16-0.
“I hadn’t played well but I knew I was going to play better,” said Lucas. “I knew I had to get it going.”
The performance capped a record-setting season, a record-setting career and Cony’s first football title of any kind since Normie Merrill led the Rams to the 1932 championship.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win a state championship,” said Lucas. “It means a lot to the school and to Augusta. A lot of people are still talking about it.”
Lucas finished his career as the most prolific passer in Maine high school football history. With the Rams counting on Lucas’ arm, the team regularly would put the ball up more than 30 times a game in the regular season. That increased in the playoffs.
In his final season, Lucas threw 369 times, and completed 222 for 3,482 yards and 41 touchdowns, all single-season marks. He was intercepted only eight times.
In three playoff games, Lucas went 71 of 124 for 1,046 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was intercepted twice.
His career statistics are staggering. In three seasons he threw 900 passes, completed 521 for 7,700 yards and 89 touchdowns. He was intercepted 28 times.
Lucas is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s high school football Player of the Year. Lucas is also the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a candidate for the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy that goes to the top senior football player in the state. Lucas also has an 89.9 grade- point average.
Despite all the success, Lucas remains humble.
“Ben always gives credit to his line and his other teammates, ” said Cony Coach Robby Vachon. “He has a great presence in the pocket. He has unusual poise for someone who is 17.”
The line gave Lucas time to throw and he had good targets.
“I had the two best receivers in the state in Jonathan Sabin and Taylor Carrier,” said Lucas.
Vachon said Lucas passed for 1,500 yards his sophomore year and increased it to 2,700 yards as a junior.
“Ben made a big jump from his sophomore to junior season. His leadership was the biggest improvement,” said Vachon.
Lucas worked out with his brother, Nick, a junior receiver at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., three times a week last summer.
“We would throw and run,” said Lucas. “My brother has always been real supportive.”
Along with that, Lucas’ improvement can be tied to his work with Vachon and offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert, both former Cony quarterbacks.
“My decision-making wasn’t that good my first season as a starter. I’ve worked with B.L. quite a bit on my reads and breaking down game film,” he said.
Chip Lucas, Ben’s dad and an assistant coach with Cony, also has been helpful.
Growing up, sports was always part of the Lucas household. Former Cony quarterback Luke Duncklee, who plays at Colby College, was in Nick Lucas’ class with the Rams.
“I’ve known (Duncklee) since I was 3 years old,” said Lucas. “My brother would have a lot of his friends over. I would watch the games on TV with them, and talk about football and other sports. I learned a lot about sports in those moments.”
Lucas switched to quarterback from receiver in the eighth grade. Even then he had a strong arm.
Lucas played against Class A competition his first two varsity seasons, but Cony moved to Class B with the statewide football realignment prior to this fall.
“I didn’t see that much of a difference,” said Lucas. “We were playing a lot of the same teams we always played.”
Lucas has started to look at colleges, where he will continue his football career. He recently visited Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., and has planned visits to Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., and Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. He’s also talked to coaches at UMaine and the University of Rhode Island.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: