AUGUSTA – As he watched the highlight tapes of the other Frank Gaziano Award finalists, Nate Martel began to wonder if he had a shot at winning.

“I was watching the slide show and thinking, ‘These kids are amazing,’” Martel said.

The Bonny Eagle senior didn’t have to worry. Even with all the talent displayed by the other finalists, Martel won the inaugural Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Award for defensive linemen.

South Portland’s Matt Welch won the offensive linemen award. Both Martel and Welch were given a $2,500 scholarship at Sunday’s awards brunch at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I played against some pretty good guys,” Welch said. “Everyone here is a great competitor.”

Zach Dulac of Cheverus and Nick Ramsdell of Windham were the runners-up for the offensive lineman award, and each was given a $500 scholarship. Mt. Blue’s Matt Archer and Jake Huerfano of Waterville also were finalists.

Defensive runners-up were Christian Durland of Mountain Valley and Chris Desmond of John Bapst. Trevor Bates of Westbrook, Jack Horton of Falmouth and Connor McAleney of Cape Elizabeth were the other defensive finalists.

The new award was created in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, a Cape Elizabeth resident who died last year at the age of 92. Gaziano graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1941 and played professional football for the Washington Redskins and Boston Yanks.

One of the guest speakers was Gerry Raymond, who won the Fitzpatrick Trophy after his high school career at Lewiston in 1977. Still the only lineman to win the Fitzy, awarded each year to the state’s top senior football player, Raymond implored the finalists to try to live up to the ideals of Gaziano. Nothing is a substitute for hard work, Raymond said.

“Always remember to honor the game of football,” said Raymond, who went on to play football at Boston College before playing professionally in the NFL and USFL.

Former Windham High standout and current University of Maine defensive lineman Raibonne Charles also spoke. Charles reminded everyone how important line play is by recounting how gold prospectors had trouble getting their gear into the California mountains during the gold rush of the 1800s. Horses weren’t strong enough for the job, and donkeys were too stubborn. Horses and donkeys were bred to create the mule, which was perfect for the job.

“That’s what a lineman is. You guys are tough, smart and have all the heart in the world,” Charles said.

Martel helped the Scots go 8-2 and reach the Western Class A semifinals. With Welch at left tackle, South Portland went 5-4 and reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Both were honored to be the first winners of the Gaziano Award.

“Hopefully other kids can be inspired to play the line and work hard,” Martel said.

Welch plans on continuing his football career at Bates. Martel said he also hopes to play football in college but is undecided on a school.