Justin Bryant of Marshwood High accepts the 2019 James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy at a banquet in Portland in January 2020. The Fitzpatrick Trophy was not awarded last year after the tackle high school football season was called off because of the pandemic. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

Twelve semifinalists for the 50th Fitzpatrick Trophy were announced on Monday, and they represent all four classes of 11-man high school football plus the eight-man version of the sport.

The award is given annually to Maine’s top high school senior in football. The trophy was not awarded last season because tackle football was not played in the state in light of the pandemic.

This season’s banquet and awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 16. All of the state’s head coaches are allowed to nominate one of their own players. The semifinalists are selected by the Fitzpatrick Trophy selection committee, which also considers academic and citizenship qualities.

Head coaches and media members will now have the chance to make a ranked-order vote for their top three choices. The three finalists will be announced in approximately two weeks, with the winner remaining unknown until the Jan. 16 banquet.

Here are the 2021 semifinalists in alphabetical order:

Gabe Aucoin, Morse running back/linebacker: Aucoin, who has a 2.82 GPA, rushed for 1,616 yards and 18 touchdowns, scored 24 touchdowns overall and also made 83 tackles with two sacks and an interception for the Shipbuilders, who reached the eight-man Large School north division final. He volunteers as a youth sports official.


Jack Emerson, Thornton Academy quarterback: Emerson, who has a 2.7 GPA, directed the Trojans to the Class A championship, completing  87 of 131 passes for 1,426 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was also a strong runner, gaining 627 yards and scoring another 13 touchdowns. Emerson is a member of Key Club, is an academic tutor and volunteers with the youth football program and a local animal shelter.

Hunter Hayes, Leavitt quarterback/safety: Despite injuries that limited him to six games, Hayes accounted for 663 total yards of offense and 10 touchdowns. On defense he was in on 36 tackles with three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. The 3.2 GPA student plays basketball, runs track and volunteers with several youth sports groups.

Thomas Horton, Bonny Eagle guard/nose guard: A dominant blocker with a 3.9 GPA, Horton is considered by his coaches as the best two-way lineman in Bonny Eagle history. On defense he averaged 7.2 tackles per game with 13 tackles for loss. Horton is a member of the National Honor Society and student council and volunteers with a variety of groups, including Special Olympics.

Robert “Will” Ledbetter, Windham quarterback: An exceptional student with a 102 average, Ledbetter led Windham to the Class B North championship, completing 74 percent of his passes (114 of 154) for over 1,700 yards with 20 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Also a basketball player, Ledbetter is a member of the National Honor Society and the Social Justice League.

Caden McDuffie, Cape Elizabeth quarterback/linebacker: McDuffie, who has an 83 GPA, led the Capers to their first football championship with a dominating effort in the Class C final, throwing for five touchdowns and running for a sixth. For the season, McDuffie completed 69 of 124 passes for 1,419 yards and 26 touchdowns against three interceptions and also rushed for 1,005 yards and 19 scores.

Casey Mills, Cony tight end/defensive end: An excellent student with a 97.8 average, Mills had 12 catches for 202 yards and four touchdowns and was the team’s long-snapper. He is president of the student council and the Key Club, a member of the National Honor Society and a wrestler.


Hunter Norton, Camden Hills quarterback/linebacker: Another eight-man football representative, Norton has a 93 academic average. He rushed for 1,623 yards and 23 touchdowns and threw another six touchdown passes. He had 84 tackles and three interceptions. A basketball player, he volunteers with the local youth football and community clean-up projects.

Isaiah Oufiero, Oxford Hills tight end/linebacker: A standout on the Class A runner-up squad with a 3.2 GPA, Oufiero had 19 catches for 300 yards and six scores and made 57 tackles with four quarterback sacks. He also had another 11 tackles on special teams. He volunteers with youth football and basketball programs.

Anthony Prak, Noble running back/free safety: A shifty, strong runner who gained yards after contact, Prak has a 3.5 GPA and is a member of the band, chess, baseball and track programs. He rushed for 1,462 yards with 18 touchdowns and added another 200 yards receiving and 150 on returns. On defense he was in on 56 tackles with three interceptions.

Austin Seavey, Foxcroft Academy quarterback: A 3.6 GPA student, Seavey led the Ponies to the state championship and was the Class D Player of the Year. He completed 134 of 203 passes for 1,822 yards and 25 touchdowns with only two interceptions. He also rushed for 399 yards and five scores. A four-sport athlete (he also plays basketball and baseball, and competes in track) and member of the Key, Debate and Spanish clubs, he volunteers in numerous youth and community activities.

Liam Von Oesen, Waterville quarterback/linebacker: A good student with an 86 average, Von Oesen led Waterville to the eight-man Large School championship game against Cheverus. He rushed for 1,992 yards and 26 touchdowns and also threw for 686 yards and another eight scores. A basketball and baseball player, he participates in Junior Classical League and tutors junior high students.

Comments are no longer available on this story