Eli Soehren of Oxford Hills hands the trophy to his father and coach, Mark Soehren, after being awarded the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy in January. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

For the first time in its history, four finalists have been named for the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, given to the state’s top senior high school football player.

Leavitt Area quarterback Noah Carpenter heads the list of finalists for the 52nd Fitzpatrick Trophy. Carpenter, who also excelled on defense and as a kicker and punter, led the Hornets’ to a historic 11-0 Class C championship season. He was the 2022 Varsity Maine Player of the Year.

The other finalists are quarterbacks Terrell Edwards of Bonny Eagle and Cohen Galley of Oceanside, and running back Michael McGonagle of Yarmouth. McGonagle, who rushed for over 2,500 yards for a second straight season, is the first player from an eight-man football team to be named a Fitzy finalist.

Coaches from across the state are allowed to nominate one player from their team to the Fitzpatrick Trophy selection committee, which also considers academics and citizenship, and pares down the nominees to a list of semifinalists. After the semifinalists are named, the state’s head football coaches vote, with the top four vote-getters emerging as finalists.

The winner will be announced at a Jan. 14 banquet at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. The award has been given annually since 1971, with the exception of the 2020 season canceled because of the pandemic. Last year’s winner was Eli Soehren of Oxford Hills.

In previous years, the voting process included media members and produced three finalists.


Carpenter, who has a 3.7 grade-point average, put up huge stats as the Class C Hornets beat defending Class A champion Oxford Hills, eventual Class A champ Thornton Academy, Class A Lewiston and Class B runner-up Lawrence in the regular season. Carpenter rushed for 1,351 yards and 23 touchdowns on 121 carries, completed 90 of 142 passes (63%) for 1,801 yards and 21 touchdowns, made 32 of 35 point-after kicks, and scored 15 2-point conversions. From strong safety, he made 110 tackles, with five interceptions and four forced fumbles.

“He’s so important on both sides of the ball and on special teams. He basically doesn’t come off the field,” said Leavitt Coach Mike Hathaway.

Edwards, who has a 3.5 GPA, carried an injury-riddled Bonny Eagle squad to the Class A South championship game, where the Scots lost to Thornton, 21-13. Coming back to football after not playing as a junior, Edwards rushed for 1,524 yards and 27 touchdowns and threw for 1,075 yards and 14 scores, completing 55 percent of his passes. He also played defense and was Bonny Eagle’s punter.

“With all our injuries at our skill positions, he had all backups at wide receiver. He ended up throwing a touchdown pass to each one of the backups,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper. “He made his teammates better.”

Galley, a 4.0 GPA student, was another high-production, dual-threat quarterback for Oceanside, which won the Class C North title before falling to Leavitt in the state final. He completed 92 of 156 passes for 1,856 yards and threw 23 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. As a runner, he was equally effective, gaining 1,363 yards on 158 carries with 24 touchdowns. He also ran for 18 2-point conversions and threw for another 11 conversions. As an outside linebacker, he had 42 solo tackles, 24 assists and 13 tackles for loss.

“We were a 100% run-pass read-option offense. Cohen’s good decisions, based on reads off the defense, were why he threw only three interceptions and ran for almost 10 yards a carry,” said Oceanside Coach Sam Weiss.

McGonagle carried a 3.5 GPA in the classroom and was nearly unstoppable for two seasons as Yarmouth’s lead back. This season, he rushed for 2,543 yards, averaging 9.3 yards per carry, and scored 32 touchdowns. As a defensive tackle, he had five sacks and a total of 14 tackles for loss among his 32 tackles.

“I have coached some great running backs and Mike was their equal, if not better,” said Jim Hartman, who retired as Yarmouth’s coach at the end of the season.

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