Noah Carpenter was a star quarterback for a Leavitt team that has won 22 consecutive games, but what made the senior truly distinctive was his versatility. He was a hard-hitting strong safety – as well as a superb punter and place-kicker – with a knack for coming up with big plays for the Class C champion Hornets. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

What set Noah Carpenter apart from every other high school football player in Maine this year?


Noah Carpenter

The Leavitt Area High quarterback/strong safety/punter/kicker was a true do-it-all performer. A power runner. An accurate passer. An instinctive, punishing tackler. Would have won a Punt, Pass and Kick competition in the 1970s.

But it wasn’t just what he did individually. What the 6-foot, 205-pound senior and his teammates accomplished was even more impressive.

Class C Leavitt, a school with approximately 570 students, strode onto the field against Class A powers twice its size and beat Oxford Hills (1,050 students) and Thornton Academy (1,350 students).

“What Leavitt did this year by beating Oxford Hills and TA as a Class C might never be done again,” said Kevin Cooper, who has coached Bonny Eagle to seven Class A championships.


They also beat Class A Lewiston (1,505 students) and Class B runner-up Lawrence at Fairfield’s Keyes Field. The Hornets went 11-0 and won a second-straight Class C title.

It all adds up to a simply easy statement: Noah Carpenter is the 2023 Varsity Maine Football Player of the Year.

Oh, and he was our pick last year, too.

From left, Leavitt’s Mason Twitchell, Noah Carpenter and Will Keach celebrate with the state championship trophy after the Hornets defeated Oceanside in the Class C title game on Nov. 18. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal


Carpenter said he and his teammates didn’t prepare differently for 2023 because of the daunting schedule. There weren’t extra lifting sessions in the summer. It was business as usual. And under Coach Mike Hathaway, Leavitt football’s business is winning.

“I wouldn’t say we took it differently from past years. We liked playing a harder schedule,” said the 17-year-old Carpenter. “Last year, we had a great team and won a championship and we had some returning kids. We wanted to be the first team in Leavitt history to win back-to-back state championships.


“We just prepared the same way. It was just the group we had and the mindset of team we had. It was truly unbeatable.”

Leavitt had already shown itself capable of winning in the clutch this fall when Carpenter intercepted a pass to seal a 21-14 win against Oxford Hills on Sept. 23. Then the Hornets showed they could come from behind, rallying from a 21-6 halftime deficit to beat Thornton, 35-21, on Oct. 14, with Carpenter rushing for three of his four touchdowns in the second half.

“You look at our three most competitive games, Oxford Hills, Thornton and Fryeburg, all games we could have lost, and if you look at most of the plays to seal those games, Noah has his hands all over them,” Hathaway said.

Ah, the Fryeburg game. That would be Leavitt’s 36-32 victory in the Class C South championship game. Fryeburg had the Hornets on the ropes – several times. With multiple offensive threats and an infusion of top players from Canada and Europe, Fryeburg was a talented and dangerous team. The Raiders led 20-7 in the first half and 32-21 entering the fourth quarter.

“It looked pretty grim,” Hathaway said. After Carpenter was stopped on a fourth-and-3 run deep in Fryeburg territory with 1:17 to go in the third quarter, Hathaway said to assistant coaches over his headset, “That’s it.”

But Carpenter ran for an 11-yard touchdown with 10:19 remaining in the fourth, then threw to Keegan Reny for a 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 32-29. After the Hornets got the ball back, Carpenter scored on a 2-yard run with 3:35 left and kicked the extra point to give Leavitt a 36-32 lead. Fryeburg then drove deep into Leavitt territory, but Carpenter sealed the game with an interception.


“Obviously, the stuff we did during the season was a huge accomplishment,” Carpenter said. “But it definitely wouldn’t have been remembered quite the same way if we had lost to Fryeburg. It would have gone down the drain, kind of.”

In what turned into a coronation of this year’s undisputed kings of Maine high school football, Leavitt routed Oceanside, 71-12, in the Class C state final.

For those wondering, here are Carpenter’s stats. He completed 90 of 142 passes for 1,801 yards and 21 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,351 yards and 23 touchdowns, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. He kicked 32 of 35 point-afters, made 110 tackles, and was an exceptional punter.

Leavitt quarterback Noah Carpenter completed 90 of 142 passes this fall for 1,801 yards and 21 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,351 yards and 23 touchdowns, averaging 11.2 yards per carry. Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald


Carpenter and the University of Maine officially announced on Wednesday that he would be joining the Black Bears’ football team. Carpenter, a power-hitting infielder/catcher/pitcher, had previously committed to play baseball at Maine.

UMaine’s announcement last week labeled Carpenter as “athlete,” which is certainly fair. He plans to play both sports in Orono. That the Maine football coaches saw his diverse skill set was important, Carpenter said.


“They want me at quarterback, and they also like my punting skills, but in talking to (UMaine coaches), if I get buried in the quarterback room behind four, five guys, they wouldn’t have a problem with me finding a position,” Carpenter said. “That’s probably what sealed the deal.”

His punting ability can definitely translate to college football, as evidenced by his three first-half punts at Thornton Academy. Each was distinct. None were returned. They averaged 58.7 yards.

Backed up at his own 7 on Leavitt’s first possession, already trailing 7-0, Carpenter boomed a 66-yard punt over the head of Thornton’s retreating return man. With Leavitt down 14-0, Carpenter’s second punt went even higher, turned over into a perfect spiral and angled perfectly to the sideline 52 yards away at the Thornton 4. Then came a 58-yard rugby-style punt after escaping heavy pressure. That punt was negated because Thornton was called for roughing the punter. Instead, Leavitt maintained possession, and Carpenter eventually took advantage of the penalty by scrambling away from pressure on fourth-and-10 and scoring on a 14-yard run.

For Carpenter’s coach, such exploits became expected but were always appreciated.

“You look at those three key games, and he was by far the best player on the field all three times,” Hathaway said.

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