Unlike most years, there was little drama or uncertainty about whose name would be called when the envelope was opened Sunday at the annual James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy dinner.

Of course the winner was going to be Noah Carpenter, the do-it-all quarterback from Leavitt Area High School in Turner. He entered the season as the clear front-runner, and every week embellished his resume in an undefeated 11-0 season as the Hornets won a second straight Class C championship.

On Sunday at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland, the award became official. Carpenter was chosen ahead of three other finalists: Bonny Eagle quarterback Terrell Edwards, Oceanside quarterback Cohen Galley and Yarmouth running back Michael McGonagle.

Carpenter might have been the most surprised person in the room. Like any top competitor, he had prepared, coming with an acceptance speech. But he said he was still nervous when the 1998 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, Dr. Robert Parisien of Biddeford, opened the sealed envelope to read the winner’s name.

“Just to be named one of those four (finalists) is truly a blessing,” Carpenter said. “It could have gone to any of us this year. Mike, Terrell and Cohen, all great athletes, but also great students and leaders for their community and their school.”

Since the 1971 season, the award has been given annually to the top senior in Maine high school football. There was no award in 2020 after the tackle football season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Carpenter is the second winner in a row from the Sun Journal’s coverage area, following 2022 recipient Eli Soehren of Oxford Hills.


Carpenter, who was 29-1 as Leavitt’s starting quarterback, had already earned many accolades and top honors.

“This is different just because knowing the history, what it takes to win this award, and knowing previous guys who have won this award. It just stands above most of the individual achievements,” Carpenter said. “But nothing could have been done and my season could never have happened without my teammates.”

Carpenter entered his senior season as the favorite for the 52nd Fitzpatrick Trophy. As a junior, he was chosen as the Varsity Maine Player of the Year, Sun Journal All-Region Player of the Year and the Gatorade Maine Player of the Year. Throughout the 2023 season, the quarterback/strong safety/punter/kicker excelled as the Class C Hornets beat everyone on a schedule that included Class A powers Thornton Academy and Oxford Hills and Class B runner-up Lawrence. They put an exclamation point on their season by routing Oceanside in the Class C final, 71-12.

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. His punting was next-level quality.

Carpenter earned a second straight Varsity Maine Player of the Year honor in December. He also repeated as the Sun Journal Player of the Year and Gatorade Maine Player of the Year, and was chosen as the MaxPreps Maine Player of the Year. Also, the Campbell Conference named him player of the year and voted him to the first-team offense, defense and special teams.

Carpenter is the second Fitzy finalist and second winner from Leavitt. Jordan Hersom was the pick in 2011. He’ll attend the University of Maine and plans to play both football and baseball.


Edwards, Galley and McGonagle joined Carpenter at the front table. Each had outstanding seasons, the type that would stack up favorably against many former Fitzy winners.

Edwards rushed for 1,524 yards and 27 touchdowns and threw for 1,075 yards and 14 scores, leading an injury-riddled team to the Class A South final. Bonny Eagle Coach Kevin Cooper praised Edwards for his ability to work with inexperienced players and help them succeed.

“It’s just so cool being here, nominated, it’s just a big accomplishment,” Edwards said. “I had the second speech prepared, but Carpenter’s such a good player, it’s hard to beat him.”

Galley, who became Oceanside’s first Fitzy finalist, threw for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 1,363 yards and 24 scores. Mariners Coach Sam Weiss emphasized that Galley and his teammates have created a winning culture across multiple sports, particularly in football, where the school had little history of success – either as Oceanside since 2011 or previously as Rockland High.

“It means a lot,” Galley said of being a finalist. “I hope to inspire the future generations of athletes that being from a small school in the midcoast of Maine doesn’t limit your potential.”

McGonagle was the first player from Maine’s eight-man football ranks to be named a finalist. He rushed for 2,543 yards and 32 touchdowns in only eight games. McGonagle said being at Sunday’s event, “made it real,” that he was among such a select group.

“I’d known that I was a finalist for awhile, but being here today really solidified it and it was amazing,” McGonagle said.

All of the finalists were Varsity Maine All-State selections.

In addition to celebrating the finalists, the Fitzpatrick Award dinner salutes each semifinalist chosen by the selection committee. This year, the committee picked eight semifinalists, after which the finalists and eventual winner were chosen by a vote of the state’s head coaches (no media vote this year). The other semifinalists were Brady Kezal of Thornton Academy, Aaron Reed of Medomak Valley, Parker Sergent of Cony and Brady Truman of Oxford Hills.

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