Bonny Eagle lineman Thomas Horton, Windham quarterback Will Ledbetter and Cape Elizabeth quarterback Caden McDuffie have been named finalists for the 2021 Fitzpatrick Trophy, given annually to the top senior in Maine high school football.

The announcement was made Wednesday by Jack Dawson, a longtime member of the Fitzpatrick Trophy Committee.

The three were selected in from 12 semifinalists in a vote of Maine media and high school football coaches. Coaches from across the state are allowed to nominate one player from their team to the selection committee, which also considers academics and citizenship, and pares down the nominees to a list of 12 semifinalists.

The winner will be announced at a banquet Jan. 16 at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. The trophy, first awarded in 1971, was not handed out in 2020 after Maine’s tackle football season was canceled because of the pandemic.

Bonny Eagle’s Thomas Horton comes from behind to take down Oxford Hills quarterback Eli Soehren during a game in September. Brewster Burns photo

Horton, an offensive guard and nose guard, is considered by his coaches to be the best two-way lineman in Bonny Eagle history. As a nose guard, Horton averaged 7.2 tackles per game and had 13 tackles for a loss. He is a member of the National Honor Society and student council, and volunteers with a variety of groups, including Special Olympics. Horton carries 3.9 grade-point average.

Horton celebrated his birthday Wednesday, and called the his selection as a finalist “an awesome birthday present.”

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“I feel like sometimes linemen are underrepresented in the football community and don’t get recognition for all the work they put in. I’m honored to be a finalist for the Fitzpatrick Trophy,” Horton said.

Windham quarterback Will Ledbetter threw for over 1,700 yards this season, with 20 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Ledbetter completed 74 percent of his passes (114 of 154) for more than 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns with just two interceptions in leading Windham to the Class B North title. Ledbetter is a member of the National Honor Society and Social Justice League. The Fitzpatrick Trophy was never a goal Ledbetter strived for, he said.

“I never came to high school with that as something that was in my mind,” Ledbetter said. “It honestly means the world (to be a finalist). It’s really a combination of hard work and having teammates believe in you.”

Cape Elizabeth’s Caden McDuffie breaks through the Winslow defense during the Class C state championship game. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

McDuffie led the Capers to their first state championship, throwing five touchdown passes and running for two more in the Class C title game. On the season, McDuffie threw for 1,406 yards, with 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 1,011 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also played linebacker.

“It means I have a lot of thanks to give to many people who along the way believed in me and invested their time and love,” McDuffie said. “This recognition belongs to them.”


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