The Big East Conference schoolboy basketball season began with a big three, as Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island and Presque Isle all got off to fast starts.
But a youthful Hermon team is making a strong midseason case that it deserves mention among a big four.
Coach Mark Reed’s club, which has more freshmen (four) on its roster than seniors (three), has used victories over both Ellsworth and Presque Isle within a four-day span to extend its winning streak to four games and move up to sixth place in the Eastern Maine Class B Heal points.
Hermon, now 5-3 after a 1-3 start to the season, edged Ellsworth 47-43 in overtime last Wednesday, holding the Eagles scoreless during overtime while handing them their first regular-season loss since the 2009-10 season.
Then on Saturday, the Hawks avenged a 67-34 season-opening loss at Presque Isle on Dec. 10 to hold off the Wildcats 41-40.
Solid defense and offensive patience have been keys to the Hawks’ recent success, as Hermon held both Ellsworth and Presque Isle nearly 20 points below their average offensive outputs entering those contests.
Ellsworth had averaged 62.2 points per game during its 7-0 start entering its game at Hermon, while Presque Isle had averaged 58.4 ppg going into its rematch with the Hawks.
Hermon has featured a balanced scoring attack, with senior Braddock Deabay, juniors Fritz Marseille and Joey Martin and sophomores Tyler Thayer and Jacob Rioux all having scored in double figures.
Hermon returns to action Thursday at Washington Academy of East Machias, where the Hawks will be seeking to avenge a 62-60 loss on Dec. 14.
Bapst star finalist for Gaziano lineman award
Max Andrews of John Bapst of Bangor has been named a finalist for the second annual Frank J. Gaziano Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards.
Andrews, a senior defensive end and tight end, was one of four finalists for the Gaziano defensive lineman award, along with Matt Ross of Cape Elizabeth, Christian Deschenes of Cheverus of Portland and Luke Libby of Thornton Academy of Saco.
Finalists for the Gaziano offensive lineman award are Rudy Pandora of Lewiston, Nate Porter of Portland, Logan Mars of Scarborough and Matt McLean of Windham.
Andrews, the only non-Class A finalist for this year’s awards, led the LTC Class C ranks last fall with 13 quarterback sacks among his 88 overall tackles. He also had one pass interference on defense while making 23 catches for 327 yards and six touchdowns on offense.
Andrews helped coach Dan O’Connell’s club compile a 7-3 record and advance to the LTC semifinals in 2011, and he subsequently was nominated for the LTC player of the year award and selected as first-team all-conference on both offense and defense.
It marked the third straight year Andrews earned first-team All-LTC honors.
This marks the second straight year a John Bapst player has been a finalist for the Gaziano award. The Crusaders’ Chris Desmond was a finalist for the defensive lineman award after the 2010 season.
The awards for Maine high school football linemen were created in 2010 in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, founder of National Distributors and a former college All-American and professional football player.
Recipients of the awards are selected by a committee based on players’ leadership on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Each applicant submits an essay and a game film, and finalists are interviewed by the selection committee.
Each winner receives a $2,500 scholarship and a trophy, and an additional trophy will be displayed in the winners’ schools.
This year’s winners will be announced during a banquet brunch scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Augusta Civic Center.