March 13, 2010

He put the blaze in Blazes

TOM CHARD

— By

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Tom Thornton, Cheverus football, in a game against Cony High School.

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No. 14 Guy Garon, St. Louis QB.

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Staff Writer

Larry Napolitano was a running back for Westbrook High as a junior, then switched to quarterback for his senior year because the Blue Blazes needed someone who could throw the ball.

Heck, Napolitano would have played tackle if it meant getting playing time and helping the team win.

Not that he had to worry about getting playing time. Napolitano was a standout running back and defensive back who blossomed at quarterback, giving the team a game-breaker at the position.

''Larry Napolitano was probably the most complete player I've ever coached,'' said Jack Dawson, who coached Westbrook from 1968-77 and again from 1979-83.

''He excelled on offense and defense. He would have played guard or tackle if I had asked him, and he would have known what to do at those positions because as a quarterback, he knew everyone's assignment. Larry was a rugged kid who had terrific balance. He could accelerate and cut on a dime. He knew where his blocks were coming from.''

Napolitano, now 53 and living in Raymond, has two grown children. He works as a mason and owns Dirigo Masonry.

Napolitano played for Westbrook from 1970-72. Westbrook football has struggled for years, but the school had strong teams in 1971 and 1972, and for a few years thereafter.

As a junior, Napolitano was a running back on a veteran team that went 7-2.

A 14-13 loss to Biddeford, the eventual state champion, was the difference between the Tigers playing for the state championship that season rather than the Blazes.

The next season, the Blazes were confident of contending for a state title, but injuries and close losses resulted in a 4-4-1 season.

''We had a lot of nagging injuries and we were inconsistent,'' Napolitano said of that season. ''No one was really 100 percent the entire season.''

That included Napolitano.

''I had an ankle injury that bothered me,'' he said. ''It was never right the whole season, and to this day it still bothers me from time to time.''

Despite that, Napolitano was one of the top players in the state.

He possessed speed, agility and power as a runner. He also had a strong arm that made the Blazes tough to defend.

In the first game that season, Napolitano passed for three touchdowns and scored two others, the last a long interception return in a 34-17 victory against Waterville.

As a junior at running back, Napolitano also had some big games.

Against South Portland in a 48-22 victory, Napolitano ran for two touchdowns and passed for another on the halfback option.

Against Sanford, Napolitano gained 162 yards on just 14 carries in a 41-14 win.

Napolitano also was a standout in baseball and track.

After high school, Napolitano attended Bentley College for two years. The school had a club football team.

''I studied accounting and played one year of football,'' he said. ''I didn't really like it, so I left after two years and went to Southern Maine Technical College to study law enforcement.''

During high school, Napolitano worked summers for a mason, learning the trade.

''I was a pretty good mason and decided to make it my career,'' he said. ''I formed my own company in 1988.''

Napolitano has been a baseball umpire for 12 years and is a member of the Western Maine Board. He works high school and American Legion games.

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

tchard@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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Jim Soule, Morse High School football

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Staff Photo, November, 1989: #34, Steve Knight, Marshwood High School running back.

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John Ewing file photo:QB Rich LaBonte file photo from Nov. 6, 1983.

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Larry Napolitano, Westbrook #40

  


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