It’s a process that never fails to generate discussion, and even dispute, but one objection to the 2013 list of James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalists was that not a single player from newly minted Class D was represented.
Kyle Flaherty of Oak Hill and Tyler Frost of Dirigo made doubly certain that the little guys of Maine high school football had a representative at the table this season.
Both two-way stars at running back and linebacker were announced Saturday among the 13 players still in the running for the 44th annual award, presented each year to an outstanding senior football player and student.
Three finalists will be selected later this month after polling of coaches and select media, with the winner revealed at a January banquet in Portland.
Flaherty and Frost aren’t the only Class D players in the fold. Matt Stewart, a quarterback and defensive back from Bucksport, also is a semifinalist.
Tight end and linebacker Kevin Barrett of Class A Thornton and halfback/linebacker Brett Gerry of Class B Marshwood join Flaherty as semifinalists from state championship teams.
Also on the ballot are: Peter Boyer, RB/LB, Foxcroft; Chris Carney, RB/LB, Wells; Tayler Carrier, WR/DB, Cony; Zach Davis, TE/LB, Windham; Joe Fitzpatrick, RB/LB, Cheverus; Milani Hicks, WR/DB, Scarborough; Maurice Johnson. RB/S Westbrook; and Ryan Ruhlin, DE/WR, Portland.
Frost was the heart of both Dirigo’s offense and defense, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a fullback and leading his team in tackles at middle linebacker.
As a three-sport star, Frost has been part of two state championships in baseball and one in basketball while twice reaching football’s regional title game.
He is Dirigo’s second candidate for the Fitzy. Quarterback Nic Crutchfield was one of the three finalists in 2009.
Flaherty leaves Oak Hill as its all-time leading rusher with more than 4,400 yards, He combined with Alex Mace in a relentless one-two punch that led the school to just the second and third state titles in its history.
It is the Raiders’ first appearance on the Fitzy ballot and second major award nomination in as many years. Luke Washburn won the Gaziano Award as the state’s outstanding defensive lineman in 2013.
Class D fans missing the chance to play the respect card, take heart: Kyle Flaherty is named as “Tyler Flaherty” on the official ballot.