A center will take center stage as this year’s top high school offensive lineman in Maine.

Nick Bartholomew of Thornton Academy, Peter Gammon of Bonny Eagle High and Dylan Wike of Portland, each the snapper on a top Class A team, were named Friday as the three offensive finalists for the Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards.

“I can tell you the center is basically the quarterback of the offensive line because we coordinate everything,” Wike said.

“As a center there’s definitely added responsibility,” Bartholomew said. “You have to be a really good offensive lineman to be a really good center.”

Austin Lufkin of Brewer, David Redmond of Westbrook and Raffaele Salamone of Deering are the defensive finalists.

The two winners, to be announced Jan. 28 at the Augusta Civic Center, will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and a trophy. The other four finalists receive a $1,000 scholarship. The scholarship and awards program began in 2010 as a way to honor the top senior linemen in Maine.

The Gaziano Awards are presented to players who epitomize the character, leadership and perseverance of Frank Gaziano, who played college football at Holy Cross and one season in the NFL before founding National Distributors in South Portland. Gaziano died in 2010.

“It’s hands down the biggest honor that I’ve had in my football career,” Bartholomew said.

Lufkin, Redmond, Salamone, Bartholomew and Gammon were selected to the 2016 All-Telegram football team.

Wike said being named one of the 15 semifinalists (nine on offense, six on defense) was an honor.

“Then to be in the top three, it’s just amazing to be recognized for all my hard work and commitment that I’ve done, not only on the football field but in the community and academically,” Wike said.

Here’s a look at each finalist:

n Lufkin, a team captain, helped lead Brewer to the Class B North championship game as a first-team all-conference player on both sides of the ball and dominated at defensive end with 11 sacks, 47 tackles and two blocked field goals. An All-Academic pick in the Pine Tree Conference, Lufkin has a cumulative 90.8 grade-point average (GPA). He coaches youth football, volunteers at his church and has been involved with Boy Scouts of America.

n Redmond, a four-year letter winner, was a captain at Westbrook and earned All-Conference honors as a defensive end in his junior and senior seasons. He led the Blue Blazes with 70 tackles, including 11 for loss. He is a member of WHS’s Trendsetters, a mentor for a special needs basketball team and coaches youth football. An honor student, Redmond has an 88.0 GPA.

n Salamone, a Deering co-captain, was named the defensive player of the year in Maine by USA Today after a senior season that included 70 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and three quarterback sacks. A two-year SMAA All-Conference choice, Salamone has made the honor roll at Deering in 2015 and 2016. He participates in after-school mentoring with the Portland Recreation Department, volunteers at the Preble Street soup kitchen and has helped teach youth football.

n Bartholomew, a two-time SMAA All-Conference pick, started at center for three seasons and excelled as a long snapper. Thornton won the Class A title in his sophomore and junior seasons. Bartholomew has a 3.92 GPA, taking AP and honors courses, and has received academic honors in writing, U.S. history and graphic design. At school he is a member of the National Honor Society and Anglers’ Society. He volunteers at a food pantry and helps the local youth football program when not busy with his fishing fly-tying small business. His flies are sold at several sporting camps and small shops in Maine.

n Gammon, a two-year captain, was a two-way standout for Class A champion Bonny Eagle. This season, he was an SMAA All-Conference linebacker and won the league’s Gerry Raymond Award as the top offensive lineman. He was recently Student of the Quarter at Westbrook Vocational School and has a 3.29 GPA while participating in Bonny Eagle’s weight training and ski clubs. Gammon teaches at summer camps for youth sports and volunteers with Special Olympics.

n Wike, a four-year varsity player, was the center for the Class A North champions while making Portland’s honor roll and earning a 90.0 GPA. He plays right wing in hockey and catcher in baseball and is a member of the Portland High executive board, Key Club and Project Graduation. Starting when he was 7 years old, Wike has raised $7,000 to benefit Maine Special Olympics. He is a Special Olympics basketball coach and volunteers at the Maine Veterans Home and the Beagle Club.

The nomination process is extensive, and very similar in scope to a college application process with game tape added. Players are judged for their ability, leadership qualities, academic record and community service. The application process includes a high school transcript, college test scores, multiple letters of recommendation, an essay and game tape, all of which are reviewed by the selection committee. The 15 semifinalists were then interviewed by committee members.

“Every year our committee is impressed with the quality of the athletes and the way they conduct themselves during the in-person interviews,” said Jeff Kane, retired president of National Distributors, Inc., and Frank Gaziano’s son-in-law.

“The interview process is unlike any other award in the country and is very important to ensure the finalists and eventual winners will continue to epitomize the type of student-athlete we envisioned when the award was created in Frank’s honor,” Kane added in a press release.

Last year, the Gaziano award nomination and selection process came under scrutiny after Windham High senior Tyrell Gullatt was a finalist for the Defensive Lineman Award. In November 2015, Gullatt was charged with two counts of gross sexual assault. Both alleged victims were younger than 8. Gullatt was named a Gaziano finalist in January 2016, and news of the criminal charges against him did not surface until February 2016.

Windham football coach Matt Perkins, then the chair of the Gaziano selection committee, and Windham Athletic Director Rich Drummond were aware Gullatt was being investigated for sexually assaulting children when they nominated Gullatt for the Gaziano award.

Gullatt since has been sentenced to two years of probation after accepting a plea deal that reduced the original charges to felony charges of unlawful sexual contact of a minor. A third case against Gullatt of a misdemeanor charge involving a third child victim was also resolved. The charge and results of that case are not public.

Pete DeSimon, the president and founder of the Gaziano Award, declined questions specifically related to Gullatt’s nomination and eventual selection as a finalist.

DeSimon said the nomination process has remained essentially the same. A letter of recommendation from the high school principal is now required in addition to letters from a player’s coach and athletic director.

“We are very thorough. What happened last year happened and we move on,” DeSimon said.

Perkins has since resigned from the Gaziano selection committee. Mike Haley, a former coach with more than 30 years of experience, is now the president and chair of the selection committee. Haley has been associated with the Gaziano Award since its beginning. He is also on the board of the Maine Coaches Association.

In addition, the selection committee added new members in Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper, Deering Coach Jason Jackson and former New England Football League player Jeff Wells.