For Jace Negley, winning the Frank J. Gaziano Defensive Lineman Award was a perfect punctuation to a perfect season with the Leavitt Area football team

“It means everything. We as a team put in so much work and effort into the season, and I personally put in so much work and effort. It’s a great feeling to cap off a high school career with this award,” said Negley, a key two-way starter for the Hornets who repeated as undefeated Class C champions.

For William Gale of Falmouth High, a two-time Varsity Maine all-state player, winning the Gaziano Offensive Lineman Award was validation of his own hard work during a tough season that saw Falmouth go 2-6 in Class B North and be ruled ineligible for the playoffs because it had to forfeit a game.

“Having my coaches help me a lot and telling me I had a real shot of this, then getting the email that I’d won, and actually processing what it means, it was very cathartic for me,” Gale said. “It was a great way to end it. Because our season wasn’t good. Though I felt I had left everything on the field and played my hardest, getting the Gaziano award meant a lot to me.”

The Gaziano award winners were announced Tuesday.

William Gale

The awards, given to seniors, honor the top high school linemen in Maine.


Jace Negley

As winners, Gale and Negley each will receive a $5,000 scholarship and a trophy. The other four finalists receive $1,000 each. Kennebunk’s Owen Bourque and South Portland’s Alex Dobson were the defensive runners-up; Marshall Addy of Medomak Valley and Kaden Sullivan of Bonny Eagle were the offensive runners-up.

In addition to on-field excellence, Gaziano candidates should have exemplary leadership and character on the field, and good citizenship and strong classroom effort with a dedicated academic pursuit off the field.

“There are so many great things waiting for Will in the future but I guarantee the Gaziano family will always be proud that he carries their name,” said Falmouth Coach John Fitzsimmons.

The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Gale was voted the Class B North Player of the Year because of his dominant play as a two-way tackle. He plans to play at Williams College. He is Falmouth’s first winner and first finalist in the 13-year history of the awards.

“There are several factors that made Will a superb lineman and athlete,” Fitzsimmons said. “One is just his physical size and strength. And he has the determination and willingness to go that one step beyond everyone else. You would see him sometimes blocking people 10 yards down the field. He would be in the weight room working out earlier than anyone.”

Negley, who is 6-3 and weighs about 280, was a three-year two-way starter for Leavitt. He has committed to the University of Maine as a preferred walk-on recruit. Negley’s former teammate Beau Mayo was the 2022 Gaziano Offensive winner.


“Beau was a teammate of mine and a fellow offensive lineman,” Negley said. “It feels great to be able to share that with him.”

Negley said both he and the UMaine coaching staff expect he will play defensive line in college. He primarily played nose guard on defense for Leavitt, making 90 tackles, 25 for a loss, including 15 sacks. He also deflected six passes, forced four fumbles, recovered two, and blocked a punt.

“He was without a doubt one of the most disruptive forces I have seen on a Maine high school football field,” said Leavitt Coach Mike Hathaway.

The Gaziano Awards were created to honor Frank J. Gaziano, a standout college lineman at Holy Cross before founding National Distributors Inc. in South Portland. Gaziano, who died in 2010, was a member of a college all-star team that defeated reigning NFL champion Washington in an exhibition game. Gaziano played one season in the NFL, in 1944 with the Boston Yanks.

National Distributors has been the primary sponsor for the award since its inception. For the third straight year, Key Bank was a co-sponsor, funding the four runners-up scholarships.

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