DURHAM, N.H. — There was one very interested observer at Wildcat Stadium when the University of Maine opened its football season Thursday night at rival New Hampshire.

John Wolfgram, the legendary high school coach who retired in 2016 with over 300 wins and 10 state championships, was there to watch two of his former stars: fifth-year senior running back Donald Goodrich of New Hampshire and redshirt sophomore running back Joe Fitzpatrick of Maine.

Goodrich, from York, won the Fitzpatrick Trophy in 2012 after leading the Stags to the Western Maine final. Fitzpatrick, from North Yarmouth, was a Fitzy finalist and the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year in 2014 after leading the Stags to another Western Maine final.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Wolfgram. “They are both two of Maine’s better running backs over the last six years. They are athletic, hard-working, good teammates. They were unique kids.

“There aren’t many Maine kids who are playing running back on a high-level college team. It’s nice to see kids who have taken their football to the next level and that football means so much to them.”

Wolfgram said he came to the game here two years ago when the two played against each other for the first time. “Donnie tackled Joe on a kickoff in that one,” he said.

Goodrich (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) is expected to be one of the Wildcats’ top running backs as they seek to replace star Darren Crossan. Coach Sean McDonnell doesn’t expect one player to do it, but Goodrich should be among the leaders.

“He’s versatile and there’s some trust there with him,” said McDonnell. “He understands what we want to do.”

Goodrich is also one of the Wildcats’ captains. “That shows the quality of his character,” said Wolfgram.

Wolfgram said it’s nice to see him step up in his senior year. “He’s never been the man,” said Wolfgram, “but he’s a complete back.”

Fitzpatrick (5-10, 215) was redshirted last year with a back injury and has come back stronger and healthier.

During the preseason, he emerged as Maine’s power runner, taking the ball between tackles.

“I would call him Maine’s vertical back,” said Wolfgram. “He’s a hard-working, high- character kid.”

MAINE’S HIGH school football royalty was further represented on the New Hampshire sidelines. In addition to Goodrich and Fitzpatrick, Pete McCarty of Bangor, the 1973 Fitzy winner, is the defensive line coach for the Wildcats.

AS THE Black Bears came onto the field, Coach Joe Harasymiak stopped to share a personal moment. His wife Brittany was waiting by the entrance to the field with their infant daughter Sophie, and Harasymiak stopped to plant a kiss on Sophie’s head.

UMAINE’S CAPTAINS were senior cornerback Najee Goode, senior safety DeAndre Scott and senior left tackle Jamil Demby.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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