AUGUSTA — Even before he was named a Frank Gaziano Award finalist, Thomas Palmer of Thornton Academy had his sights set on the trophy.

“A lot of the guys that won in the past, I’ve looked up to them,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine since my junior year.”

On Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center, Palmer and Aidan McGlone of Bonny Eagle took home the awards, given to the state’s best offensive and defensive linemen. Palmer, a defensive tackle, beat out Nic Mills of Cony and Cole Melanson of Leavitt.

“Let me tell you, when they were about to go to the second runner-up, my heart was beating so fast,” Palmer said. “These are all great competitors, and … I knew there were going to be some great guys going up against me.”

McGlone, a center, was named ahead of Chase Lamontagne of Kennebunk and Zachary Reed of Scarborough.

“I’m ecstatic. … I can’t find the words,” McGlone said. “This recognition … shows people are looking out for those guys who are down in the trenches.”

Both winner received $5,000 in scholarship money. The other finialists won $1,000.

Palmer’s win gave Thornton, the Class A champion, its second Gaziano Award in three years after Nick Bartholomew won on offense in 2016. The Golden Trojans also saw Michael Laverriere win the Fitzpatrick Trophy that year. McGlone kept the Gazianos coming for Bonny Eagle, which saw Arlo Pike (defense) and Zach Klein (offense) sweep last season.

“We’re really proud of that fact,” Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper said. “There’s no secret to what makes our program go. It’s the guys up front.”

Palmer was an outside linebacker before an injury ended his sophomore season early. He moved to defensive tackle last year, where he was undersized and unable to compete against the better linemen in the state.

“We talked last season about what he would have to do if he wanted to be one of the top linemen in the league,” Coach Kevin Kezal said. “We knew he had the speed, we knew he had the work ethic. It was just a question of if he would be big and strong enough.”

Palmer showed up the next spring with an added 35 pounds.

“I never stopped working,” he said. “Over the summer I worked out six days a week, two times a day. I knew that I had to do it because it wasn’t something I wanted. It’s something I had to do.”

Up to around 240 pounds, Palmer’s athleticism – he runs the 55 hurdles in indoor track – stood out even more, and allowed him to emerge as a game-changer.

“I truly wanted to dominate,” said Palmer, who plans to play in college but hasn’t committed to a school.

McGlone moved around early, then settled at center by his sophomore year. With Bonny Eagle losing a slew of starters after last season, McGlone knew he had to be a leader as well as a top player.

“I knew I had to step up as one of the few (starters) returning,” he said. “So just having to step up has made me work so much harder, and I pushed everyone else as they pushed me, too.”

McGlone was never the biggest lineman on the field, but Cooper cited the intelligence that has helped him rank third in his class.

“He’s very, very smart. He knows our offense as well as anybody,” Cooper said. “He’s going to be hard to replace next year.”

McGlone hopes to attend Cornell but also is considering Maine and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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