Here’s a couple of thoughts while making the transition from one high school sports season to the next.
JUST TO SHOW YOU that high school football success doesn’t always have that much to do with enrollment is the following fact pointed out to me during Wednesday’s meeting of the Maine Principals’ Association football committee — all three of this year’s gold ball winners are Class C schools by enrollment.
Class A Cheverus of Portland listed its current enrollment in the championship-game program at 454, while Class B Wells was at 434 and Class C Yarmouth was actually the largest of the three championship-winning schools at 476 students.
The current Class C enrollment cutoff for high school football statewide is 524 students.
Lawrence High School of Fairfield, one of the smallest Class A schools in Maine at 728 students, was the largest team to compete in championship Saturday, followed by Class B Leavitt of Turner Center at 650. Eastern C representative Bucksport listed a current enrollment of 466 in the tournament program.
So certainly success on the gridiron in Maine isn’t just about enrollment, but more likely such typical football factors as successful execution, limiting mistakes, coaching and both on-field and off-field preparation.
And for the last couple of years, at least, the West has been best regardless of class.
WHEN THE LIST of this year’s 12 James J. Fitzpatrick trophy semifinalists was released Wednesday, anyone who follows Eastern Maine high school football couldn’t help but notice the glaring omission in Messalonskee of Oakland standout Sam Dexter.
The trophy is awarded annually to a high school senior football player for play on the field as well as citizenship and academic factors.
Dexter, a wide receiver-wing back and defensive back, was named the Pine Tree Conference Class A player of the year after leading the Eagles to the Eastern Maine Class A semifinals, and was a three-way first-team all-conference choice on offense, defense and as a kick returner.
During the regular season alone he rushed for 682 yards and eight touchdowns, caught 23 passes for 437 yards and six scores, returned 10 kickoffs for 406 yards and two touchdowns and returned seven punts for 122 yards and another score.
On defense Dexter led the PTC with six interceptions while getting in on 44 tackles with two fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
Dexter went on to account for both of Messalonskee’s touchdowns during its 28-13 loss to Lawrence in the conference semifinals, one on a 51-yard pass reception and the second on a 79-yard kickoff return as the Eagles finished their season with a 7-3 record.
Twenty-one touchdowns and nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards in 10 games — those numbers speak for themselves.
Reports out of central Maine indicate Dexter was nominated for the award by his coach, so any omission apparently wasn’t the result of a paperwork or mailing mistake, as was the case a year ago when Cony of Augusta’s Luke Duncklee was left off the original list of semifinalists only to be added later.
And granted, Eastern A teams haven’t fared well on the state’s biggest football stage over the past three decades, with the West going 28-2 against the East in the last 30 state finals.
But the Portland-based Fitzpatrick trophy award has been designed to recognize individual achievement, and the versatile Dexter’s efforts stack up favorably with most, if not all, of those who did make the slate of semifinalists.