February 25, 2010

A big honor to go with that state championship

TOM CHARD

— By

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Jill Brady/Staff Photographer: Jack Mallis of Windham High School, right, receives the James J. Fitzpatrick Award from banquet chairman Jack Dawson during the 39th anniversary dinner at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland Sunday, January 17, 2010.

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Photo by Derek Davis: State football championships at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Photographed on Saturday Nov. 21, 2009. Windham running back Jack Mallis carries the ball against Bangor.

Additional Photos Below

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — In November, Windham won its first Class A state football championship. Now, the 11-year-old program has another first -- its first Fitzpatrick Trophy winner.

Jack Mallis, the Eagles' star running back, was named the winner of the 39th Fitzpatrick Trophy as Maine's top senior high school football player at the annual banquet Sunday afternoon in Portland.

Mallis beat out the other finalists, Nic Crutchfield of Dirigo and Lonnie Hackett of Bangor, in close balloting.

''This means so much for our team and the community,'' said Mallis. ''I couldn't have won this honor without my teammates and coaches. There are so many talented players in the state.''

Mallis, Crutchfield and Hackett shook hands before Scott Woodward, the 1984 Fitzy winner from Biddeford, opened the envelop and read Mallis' name. Some Fitzy winners try to act nonchalant, but not Mallis. He had a wide smile as he held the bronze trophy moments later.

Mallis scored 26 touchdowns and rushed for 1,686 yards as a senior. He finished his high school career with 51 touchdowns.

Windham Coach Matt Perkins said Mallis' four touchdowns and jarring hits on defense in the state championship game may have given him the final edge with the state's coaches and media who voted.

''Anyone who saw our state championship game knows the type of player Jack is,'' said Perkins.

''I'm so proud of Jack and our program. Everyone talks about his offense, but Jack is an outstanding defensive back. He was the third-leading tackler on our team with 69 tackles. He played on kickoffs and punt returns and very rarely came off the field. Jack was our vocal leader. He alerted the other defensive backs to our coverage.

''He's worked so hard to become the player he is. This is great for our program.''

Each of the finalists gave a speech on what it meant to be a Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist. Crutchfield, a quarterback, called it ''the ultimate honor.'' Hackett, Bangor's all-time leading rusher, said there's ''a privilege and responsibility'' that comes with being a finalist. Woodward said the winner would join a special fraternity.

In his remarks, Mallis told a story about when his family moved from Portland to Windham.

''My grandfather, Mike Haley, one of the best known football coaches in the state, called up my mother and said, 'Rhonda, why are you moving to Windham? They don't have football. I was three years old at the time,'' said Mallis, laughing.

Windham would soon catch the football bug. Mallis started playing in the second grade.

''I could always ask any question about football to my grandfather,'' said Mallis.

Haley was a longtime head coach at several Maine high schools before retiring. He has stayed active in the sport through the Maine High School Coaches' Association.

The Fitzpatrick semifinalists were also honored. They were Ryan Backus, Mt. Blue; Ryan Curit, South Portland; Tom Foden, Cape Elizabeth; Christian Powers, Lawrence; Ryan Stroud, Foxcroft Academy; Eric Theiss, Leavitt, Steve Trask, Thornton Academy; and Bill Wetherbee, John Bapst.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Jill Brady/Staff Photographer: Jack Mallis of Windham High School, right, receives the James J. Fitzpatrick Award from banquet chairman Jack Dawson during the 39th anniversary dinner at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland Sunday, January 17, 2010.

click image to enlarge

Photo by Derek Davis: State football championships at Fitzpatrick Stadium. Photographed on Saturday Nov. 21, 2009. Windham running back Jack Mallis carries the ball against Bangor.

 


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