LEWISTON – Five years ago, Jared Turcotte didn’t know what the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy is. Now, he’s part of the final trio with hopes of capping outstanding football careers with the prestigious honor.

The Lewiston senior is one of three finalists for the award, given annually to Maine’s top senior high school football player. Aaron Champagne of Lawrence and Portland’s Chris Treister will join him when the winner is announced Jan. 14 in Portland.

Turcotte learned he’d made the final round Saturday, a day after his coach, Bill County, presented him with Gatorade’s Maine Football Player of the Year award at the Morse-Lewiston basketball game.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s a goal that I had at the beginning of the season, not just to be a finalist but to win it. It’s another step in the direction of where I want to go. If one of those guys wins it, I’d still be very honored. If I win it, I wouldn’t even be able to describe how it would feel. It would be amazing.”

Turcotte is looking to become the third Lewiston player to win the Fitzpatrick Trophy in the 35-year history of the award. Gerry Raymond won it in 1977 and Brian Seguin in 1987.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound tailback/linebacker/defensive back rushed for 1,813 yards and 17 touchdowns on 229 carries, while leading the Blue Devils to the Pine Tree Conference playoffs. He also caught four TD passes and threw one. Defensively, he collected 113 solo tackles, returned an interception and recovered a fumble for touchdowns, returned punts and kicks and handled the Devils’ punting and kickoff duties.

His academic record is equally as impressive. He carries a 92.9 grade average, ranking him 27th in a class of 318 students. He is a member of the National Honor Society, has been involved with implementing the Sports Done Right initiative at LHS and establishing acceptable behavioral norms among his peers as a member of the Hate-Violence Prevention Student Leadership Team.

Turcotte plans to continue playing football in college and has drawn attention from numerous Division I, I-A, Ivy League and NESCAC schools. He plans to make a decision by the time National Letter of Intent season opens in February.

Coming off a spectacular junior season, Turcotte was considered a favorite for the award before this season even started. County said his team captain handled the attention from media, college recruiters and opponents with aplomb.

“Obviously, the preseason hype was really big, and there were an awful lot of people talking to him, ” County said. “I remember talking to him about not letting it be a distraction, and he said, ‘Coach, when the whistle blows, I’m a football player. That’s what I do.’ I think he rose to the expectations that he had and that we had.”

“I’m very excited,” County said Saturday. “I’m not saying I assumed anything, but I certainly hoped he’d be a finalist for the Fitzy.”

County wasn’t the first coach to have high hopes for Turcotte, and Turcotte said he would like to reward those who set the bar high for him.

“My 8th-grade coach (Fred Royer) told me he thought when the time came, I could win the Fitzpatrick Trophy,” Turcotte said. “Back then, I didn’t even know what the Fitzpatrick Trophy was.

“For people to think that highly that long ago, to be able to prove them right, it would be very fulfilling,” he added.

Champagne was part of a Lawrence defense that was the only team able to curb Turcotte’s dominance, holding him to a career-low 46 yards on 15 carries on Sept. 22. Champagne went on to lead the Bulldogs to the Class A state championship, gaining well over 1,000 all-purpose yards and scoring eight TDs as a running back and kick returner. With a 97.9 GPA, he ranks second in a class of 220 students and is a memeber of the National Honor Society.

Treister was one of the top quarterbacks in the state this year, collecting 2,236 all-purpose yards and 22 TDs while completing 60 percent of his passes. Ranked 75th with a 91.1 grade average in a class of 270 studnets, he participates in the Play-it-Smart program at Portland High School and volunteers in his church group and soup kitchen.

Voting for the award is done by the state’s football coaches and media. Voters selected from a list of 10 semifinalists, which also included Max Baillargeon of Thornton Academy, Benjamin Delcourt of Bonny Eagle, Gorham’s Jon Mitchell, Brandon Morrow of Maranacook, Andrew Pochebit of Cheverus, Josh Ranger of Hampden Academy and Deering’s Brian Sandora.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.