Flash back to this point last year and it was already easy to predict at least two of the three finalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy, the award given annually to the best high school senior football player in Maine.

Eventual winner Tyler Bridge of Wells had already rushed for over 1,000 yards while finalist Anthony Bracamonte of Thornton Academy was busting off big-play touchdowns at an alarming rate. The third finalist, Zack Elowitch of Portland, might not have had his seat reserved by midseason but he was clearly in the hunt.

This year it’s a different story. Instead of having a very small batch of elite candidates, the first five weeks has produced many very good candidates from across the classes. And that’s just here in southern Maine.

Jarett Flaker of Scarborough High, the preseason favorite for the Fitzpatrick Trophy, has 10 touchdowns through five games this fall. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Scarborough’s Jarett Flaker was the hands-down preseason favorite. He had already posted two strong seasons (30 total TDs) with the speed to take any play the distance. Flaker may still be the favorite, with 10 touchdowns through five games. But Flaker is sharing the load at Scarborough. Tom Galeckas, a junior, had a six-touchdown game. Senior QB Chase Cleary ran for three scores on Friday against Deering.

Each team can nominate only one player.

Academics and service within the school and community are also factors considered by the Fitzpatrick committee when selecting the semifinalist list. Head coaches and media members then choose their top three picks from the semifinalists. The voting takes place after the state championship games.

With the understanding there’s still lots of football left – seven games for those players fortunate enough to reach a state final – here’s an early look at some other southern Maine players who are having seasons worthy of Fitzy consideration.

Zach Maturo, Bonny Eagle, RB/QB/DB: In Scots Coach Kevin Cooper’s opinion, Maturo has been the “best player on the field in our two rivalry games” a win against Scarborough and Saturday’s 21-14 loss at Thornton. Maturo has 512 rushing yards (8 yards per carry), eight catches, has excelled as a return man, leads the Scots with seven total touchdowns and also is the team’s punter. On defense, he’s making five tackles a game and is a top coverage cornerback.

Sanford quarterback Xavier Levine has completed 32 of 38 passes for 479 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing 44 times for 353 yards and three more TDs. Maureen Grandmaison photo

Xavier Levine, Sanford, QB/DB: Levine missed Friday’s 39-18 win against Lewiston with an injury but is hopeful for a return this week when the Spartans host Scarborough. In four games, Levine has completed 32 of 38 passes for 479 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing 44 times for 353 yards and three more scores.

Justin Bryant, Marshwood, RB/LB: A four-year varsity starter at fullback, Bryant has 576 yards on 51 carries (11.3 per tote) with 14 touchdowns for the two-time Class B state champs. He leads the team in tackles with 29, eight for loss, has an interception and is also an above-average punter (37.0 yards per punt). Bryant will likely get multiple playoff games to boost his stats but the Hawks’ diversity and talent, combined with their propensity for blowing teams out, will continue to limit his total carries.

Payton MacKay, Wells, RB/S: It has been a long time since a school has had back-to-back winners (Portland’s Mike Rutherford and Shaun Hawkins, 1982-83; and Biddeford’s Scott Woodward and Gerry Gelinas, 1984-85), but it would be foolish to discount MacKay. He already has racked up 909 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns on 77 carries (11.8 yards per carry), topping 100 yards in each game. Also an outstanding defender, MacKay has two interceptions. one that he returned for a touchdown.

Brunswick running back/linebacker Owen Richardson ushed for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns while making 20 tackles with a sack and an interception. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Owen Richardson, Brunswick, RB/LB: The Dragons are 5-0 and Coach Dan Cooper says Richardson is the “sledgehammer” that drives the team. He’s rushed for 683 yards and 11 touchdowns while making 20 tackles with a sack and an interception on defense.

Nick Roberge, Massabesic, QB: The Mustangs are 3-2 this year and have been competitive in every game. Roberge is a big reason why. He’s rushed for 332 yards and thrown for another 370 (with five TD passes). Probably a long shot unless Massabesic pulls an upset or two in the playoffs.

Tyler Rollins, Gorham, RB: Like Roberge, Rollins is unlikely to have the advantage of a deep playoff run to burnish his stats and reputation. But through five weeks, he has rushed for 882 yards with nine scores and has returned two punts for touchdowns while making 29 tackles.

Matt Laughlin, Cape Elizabeth, WR/FS: Laughlin already has 1,010 yards all-purpose yards through five games, including 663 yards on 40 receptions, with five touchdowns. He also has two rushing touchdowns, and a punt return TD on his only chance. On defense he leads the Capers (3-2) with 46 tackles and five interceptions.

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