Three running backs from southern Maine – Thornton Academy’s Anthony Bracamonte, Wells’ Tyler Bridge and Portland High’s Zack Elowitch – have been named finalists for the 48th James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy.

The award honors the top senior high school football player in Maine. The winner, determined by a vote of coaches and media, will be announced at a noontime banquet on Sunday, Jan. 20, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland.

“It’s just great news,” said Bracamonte, who also played wide receiver for the Trojans. “In the back of my mind I always thought it would be a very cool accomplishment to win that award.”

All three finalists were selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram All-State team and each accounted for more than 2,000 yards of all-purpose yardage and more than 25 touchdowns.

Bracamonte, the Gatorade Maine Player of the Year, starred for the unbeaten Class A champions. Probably the most electrifying and elusive player in Maine, he raised his game in the playoffs, accounting for 925 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games. Bracamonte, who also plays basketball and lacrosse, gained 2,137 all-purpose yards (194.3 per game) and scored 27 touchdowns, with 1,037 yards rushing, 578 yards receiving on 27 catches, and 546 yards and seven touchdowns on returns.

Thornton’s team success makes accepting personal accolades more enjoyable, Bracamonte said.

“I feel it’s like a puzzle,” he said. “I need the team to win a state championship and the team needs to be successful for me to be able to win these indivdiual awards like the Gatorade Player of the Year for Maine and to be a finalist for the Fitzpatrick.”

Thornton Academy can claim three previous winners: Bob Giroux in 1986, Art Leveris in 1991, and Bracamonte’s former teammate and current University of Maine player Michael Laverriere in 2016.

Bridge, the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year, set a school rushing record with 2,390 yards on 215 carries and scored 45 total touchdowns, believed to be an all-time high in Maine, as he led Wells to its second straight undefeated season in Class D. Also a three-sport athlete (basketball, baseball), Bridge gained 3,055 all-purpose yards and also threw two touchdown passes (one in the state final), intercepted four passes, made 48 tackles at cornerback, and was Wells’ punter.

“I didn’t come into the season with any goals yardage-wise,” Bridge said recently. “I just loved getting the ball as much as I could and trying to score as often as I could.”

No player from a Class D school has won the Fitzptrick Trophy, nor has a player from Wells. Bridge’s former teammate Nolan Potter was a finalist last season. The Fitzy was a Class A-only award until 1996. From 1996-2012, Maine used a three-class system. In that time, two Class C players won the Fitzpatrick: Lee St. Hilaire of Winthrop in 2001 and Nicolas Tymoczko of Bucksport in 2004.

“I feel fortunate to be in the spot I am,” said Bridge.

Elowitch was a powerful back with the speed to bust long runs for Portland, which won the Class A North title. In the state-final loss to Thornton, Elowitch rushed for 244 yards with touchdowns of 66 and 67 yards as he broke the Bulldogs’ single-season rushing record. He then added over 200 yards and five touchdowns in Portland’s annual end-of-season exhibition game with Deering to finish with 2,162 rushing yards and a school-record 26 touchdowns. Another three-sport athlete (wrestling and track), Elowitch also started on defense and punted for Portland.

Fitzpatrick Trophy founder Julius “Yudy” Elowitch was the brother of Zack Elowitch’s great-grandfather.

Zack Elowitch could not be reached for comment Tuesday but said at the time of the semifinalist announcement that being considered for Maine’s top high school football honor was never his goal.

“Not really. My goal was just to contribute as much as I cold and do the best that I could and it was just how it seemed to work out.”

Five Portland High players have won the Fitzpatrick: Mike Rutherford in 1982, Shaun Hawkins in 1983, Joe D’Andrea in 1995, Carl Frye in 2002 and Joe Esposito in 2015.

The other nine semifinalists will also be invited to the banquet, where their achievements will be recognized. They are Marcus Christopher of Skowhegan, Dante DeLorenzo of Kennebunk, Carter Edgerton of Biddeford, Alex Gorham of Dirigo, Tommy Springer of Marshwood, Carter Tolmasoff of Bucksport, Garrett Trask of Hermon, Will Whyte of Bonny Eagle, and Matthew Wozniak of Cony.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig


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