BANGOR, Maine — Nearly two months later, the afterglow of a magical football season remains with Ben Lucas.
“It seems like every day it gets sweeter and sweeter,” said Lucas, the record-setting senior quarterback who led Cony High School of Augusta to its first state championship in the sport since 1932. “That’s what you always hear from people, that as the days and years go on it always gets sweeter.”
Lucas helped achieve that ultimate of high school football team goal by driving the Rams 99 yards during the final five minutes of the Class B state final against Kennebunk and delivering the winning touchdown with a perfectly lofted 25-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Saban in the right rear corner of the end zone with 60 seconds remaining.
That pass, Lucas’ third touchdown strike of the second half, gave Cony a 30-23 victory.
“Every night I think about it,” said the 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pound Lucas. “It’s pretty remarkable what we did.
“It still hasn’t quite struck me yet, but everyone around town has said some day 80 years from now you’ll be a legend. Everyone will remember this team, everyone will remember you because you’re the state champion forever.”
Lucas now is in line for the top individual honor in Maine high school football, the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, which will be presented during a banquet Sunday in Portland.
Lucas is one of three finalists for the award along with two-way standouts Justin Zukowski of Portland and Nicco DeLorenzo of Kennebunk.
“It’s a tremendous honor when you think about the other great players from around the state who are considered for it and all the great players in Maine history,” said Lucas. “It’s really an honor and I’m extremely humbled to be in this position knowing a lot of other kids in the state would love to be there.”
Already the Eastern Maine Class B and Gatorade Maine Player of the Year, Lucas is considered the favorite to become the first Cony player to win the Fitzy after a statistically stunning four-year career as the Rams’ starting quarterback.
Lucas led coach Rob Vachon’s Cony club to a 9-2 record this fall by completing 225 of 373 pass attempts for 3,357 yards, 41 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He capped off that effort with his 24-of-46, 347-yard performance in the state final played Nov. 22 at Alfond Stadium on the campus of the University of Maine in Orono.
Lucas concluded his high school football career with 7,575 passing yards and 89 touchdown passes — both considered unofficial state records — while throwing just 28 interceptions in more than 900 passing attempts.
“It not only would be the icing on the cake and a reflection of the season I had,” said Lucas of the possibility of winning the award, “but a reflection of our team’s season.”
DeLorenzo starred at fullback and outside linebacker in leading Kennebunk to an 11-1 record and its first Western Maine championship since 1998. The four-year starter rushed for 1,398 yards and 21 touchdowns this fall, including a 140-yard rushing effort against Cony in the state final.
Zukowski, also a running back and linebacker, rushed for more than 1,600 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading Portland to an 8-2 record and a berth in the Eastern A championship game. The Bates College-bound Zukowski led Eastern A in rushing and ranked second in tackles and was named the division’s player of the year.
Lucas currently is a starting forward on the Cony basketball team while also mulling his collegiate football options.
He has had serious discussions with several schools, including the University of Maine.
“Ultimately I just want to go to a place that will fit me well, not only from a football standpoint but a place where I could feel comfortable even if football didn’t happen, a place with good academics in something I’m looking for and a place I can call home for the next four years,” he said.