Michael Hamel, left, presents Wells High School’s Tyler Bridge with the Fitzpatrick Trophy at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland on Sunday, January 27, 2019. (Portland Press Herald photo by Ariana van den Akker)

Tyler Bridge’s dominant season was too hard to overlook.

The Wells High senior beat out Class A standouts Anthony Bracamonte of Thornton Academy and Zack Elowitch of Portland to become the first player from a Class D school to win the Fitzpatrick Trophy, given annually to the top senior in Maine high school football.

Bridge is also Wells’ first winner. The York County school of roughly 450 students has won three straight state championships and is riding a 28-game winning streak. Wells has had three finalists in the past seven seasons.

“It’s such a great feeling to have all that support from the town and also not just for Wells, but kind of also Class D. I felt like I was able to represent them and that’s just an awesome feeling, too,” Bridge said after receiving the award Sunday.

Bridge starred as a running back, cornerback, punter and returner for the Class D champion. He gained over 3,000 all-purpose yards last fall and set an unofficial state single-season record with 45 touchdowns. Bridge rushed for 2,390 yards. He also was the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year.

The 48th annual James J. Fitzpatrick Award dinner was held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay. While the state’s head coaches and media members voted for their top three picks from a list of 12 semifinalists in December, the result was known only by the independent accounting firm in charge of the tally until the 1993 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, Mike Hamel, who played at Waterville, read aloud Bridge’s name.


“It was a great moment of suspense and once they said my name it was just relieving,” said Bridge, who briefly appeared surprised to win. “It’s been nerve-wracking the whole day … it’s just an awesome feeling.”

The Fitzpatrick Trophy was given only to Class A players until the 1996 season. Since then there have been three winners from Class B and two from Class C.

Bridge said he, Bracamonte and Elowitch, “almost instantly became like friends,” while picking at their food at the head table. “It wasn’t even awkward among the three of us. So I kind of felt bad after winning but they were both really nice about it and congratulated me for winning.”

Each finalist had an outstanding season and was lauded as a role model by their coaches.

Bracamonte excelled as a runner, receiver and returner, leading the Trojans to an 11-0 record and the Class A championship. The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Bracamonte used uncanny elusiveness, superior vision and balance, and surprising strength to gain 2,137 all-purpose yards – most of them coming in the final six games against Thornton’s toughest opponents – and score 27 touchdowns. He was the Gatorade Maine Player of the Year.

“When I first got here, talking to Zack and Tyler, I quickly realized they were both deserving of the award,” Bracamonte said. “I’m not disappointed in myself. I’m not mad that Tyler won or if Zack had won. They’re both great kids and deserve everything that’s coming their way.”


Elowitch also rushed for over 2,000 yards, leading the Bulldogs to the state final where they lost to Thornton. Elowitch finished with Portland High single-season records for rushing (2,162) and touchdowns (26) while playing multiple positions on defense, punting and playing on all the Bulldogs’ special teams.

“It was a great honor (to be a finalist),” Elowitch said. “Anthony and Tyler are obviously two great players as well. Tyler won it. He deserved it. He was a great player.”

In addition to his school-record rushing total, Bridge punted, returned kicks and punts, and also was a shutdown cornerback. At 6-foot-3 and a solid 200-plus pounds, he’s drawing recruiting interest from NCAA Division I and II football programs.

He had to postpone an expected visit at the University of New Hampshire because the college coaches wanted him to have a full overnight stay.

Wells Coach Tim Roche said Bridge had a unique ability to humbly connect with the Wells community. In his introductory speech, Roche showed three hand-made, crayon-colored cards he received Sunday morning wishing Bridge good luck.

“He just brings that out in kids. There’s kids waiting for him after games, just hoping to play catch with him and he’s always taken the time to do that,” Roche said. “To know that he’s such a role model for those kids to look up to, this is like the icing on the cake for us. It shows a kid that yeah, a kid from Class D, or whatever class we’re going to be, can win the biggest award there is.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.

filed under: