DIXFIELD —Dirigo senior fullback Jake Dowland is a finalist for the 2011 Rudy Award.
Dowland is the only student-athlete from the Northeast who is being considered for a $25,000 scholarship that is awarded annually to high school football players throughout the United States.
The Rudy Awards celebrate outstanding young athletes, not for of their statistical performance, but for their ability to inspire teammates, classmates, families and communities. The program honors players who demonstrate the exemplary values of football legend Daniel 'Rudy' Ruettiger, inspirational figure of the classic football film "Rudy." Players are nominated by coaches, parents and teammates for this prestigious award.
Dowland, a 5-11, 195-pound tri-captain, was a four-year starter for Dirigo, spending the majority of his career playing both offense and defense. He worked in the trenches as an offensive lineman for three seasons before switching to fullback this year. Dowland rushed for 257 yards on 77 carries, including three touchdowns. His major role was as a leading blocker for Bryan Blackman.
Dowland, a Peru resident, proved to be a force at inside linebacker having compiled a team-leading 102 tackles.
"Jake is an exceptional football player, student, and person," Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield said. "He truly loves the game of football, He was always a running back in his youth years through middle school."
"His freshman year he had a chance to start on the high school varsity team as a guard. He did an awesome job as a guard and was instrumental with the 2009 Dirigo state team," Crutchfield said. "His junior year he started out as a guard then we needed to add another dimension to the team, and Jake moved to fullback where he still excelled and added a power running game. Since his freshman year he started as a middle linebacker and has always lead the team with tackles."
“Jake works very hard at everything he does,” former Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert said. “He always gives his best effort and expects the same from his teammates. This makes him a pretty good leader in that he's not afraid to get in your face if your not carrying your weight.”
There were approximately 1000 student-athletes who have been nominated for this prestigious award. Ryan Glover of Mountain Valley, along with Scarborough teammates Logan Mars and Harry Milner, had been nominated from the Pine Tree state.
The top 50 semifinalists were announced November 1 and the 12 scholarship winners will be chosen by the Selection Committee on Dec. 11.
The national selection committee includes former professional football players, administrators and journalists. The Chairman is former New England Patriot Drew Bledsoe who stated on the award's web site (www.highschoolrudyawards.com):
“There are inspirational stories in football at every level, but nothing matches the purity of heart and desire of a high school athlete determined to overcome all obstacles. High school athletes, and especially the ones considered for the Rudy Awards, are motivated by something far deeper," Bledsoe said.
“He's a football fanatic,”Gilbert said, who referees AYF football on Sunday's with Dowland. “He's a good kid. Someone said, 'The kind of guy you hope your daughter will date.'"
"He is a student of the game and will play college football, and more then likely be an awesome coach some day," Crutchfield said. "Jake has pulled through many obstacles thrown at him, always coming out on top."