FARMINGTON, Maine — Among the notable names not on the list of James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalists are Mt. Blue quarterback Jordan Whitney and Brunswick running back Jared Jensen, and Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin is fed up with what he believes is a southern Maine bias in the selection process.
Whitney led the Cougars to a perfect 12-0 season and its first state championship since 1980 with a 44-42 win over Marshwood. He ran for 124 yards and threw for 69 yards in the dramatic Class B final. A three-year starter, he led Mt. Blue to a 28-5 record while throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior and senior. He passed for 29 touchdowns and just five interceptions during a senior season in which he was widely considered one of the favorites for the award from season’s start to finish.
Mt. Blue coach Gary Parlin said he called Fitzpatrick Trophy chairman Jack Dawson to voice his displeasure at Whitney being left off the ballot.
“I spoke with Jack Dawson so I know they got his [nomination] paperwork,” Parlin said. “He said that the ballots have already been sent out so I told him don’t bother sending one to me because I’m going to write in Jordan Whitney’s name No. 1. Nothing against the other people. I’ll certainly vote for Brian Bedard because I think he’s a tremendous player.”
“I’m not saying that Jordan would have won this, but to not be in the top 12…” he added.
Parlin believes Whitney, Jensen and other Eastern Maine players this year and in the past have been overlooked by the Fitzpatrick committee. He noted that the dozen semifinalists include just one player from the Pine Tree Conference Class B, Leavitt’s Bedard, and eight of the 12 nominees are from Western Maine. Bedard and Cale Bollig of Westbrook are the only Class B players named.
“I told Jack Dawson this now is a southern Maine award,” added Parlin, whose son, Cole, was a Fitzpatrick finalist in 2001. He also coached 1996 winner Dustin Ireland.
“I don’t get it. Who was a better player in Maine than [Messalonskee's] Sam Dexter last year? Take the Fitzpatrick Trophy and make it like it used to be — a Class A West award — and let’s have a Maine Mr. Football.”
Parlin said his frustration with the process has reached the point that he believes Maine high school football could use another award to recognize it’s top player.
“I’d be the first one to say, ‘Screw the Fitzpatrick Award. Let’s have a “Maine’s Mr. Football” like Mr. Basketball and Mr. Baseball that’s done to [recognize] the best football player in Maine,” he said.
Whitney has his supporters around the state, including Mt. Blue’s chief rival the last two years, Leavitt. Coach Mike Hathaway said he was “shocked” not to see the Cougars’ quarterback on the list of semifinalists.
Parlin called Whitney into his office at school to give him the news Wednesday and said Whitney was “devastated.” He said the quarterback should have met all of the award’s on-field and off-field criteria as a good student and citizen, but is prepared to settle for another, more-coveted piece of hardware, a gold ball.
“I said to him, ‘Let’s look at the facts. If in August I said you could do one of two things — win the Fitzpatrick Trophy or win a state championship,’ and he said, ‘It’s not even close. I’d take the state championship any day,’” Parlin said.