March 27, 2019
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Maine’s first Patriots player, former UMaine star, dies at 78

FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Football standout Dave Cloutier, who owns the distinction of being the first Maine native to play for the Boston Patriots, has died.

The Gardiner native passed away Nov. 6 at his home in Palm Coast, Florida. He was 78.

Cloutier had a brief career in professional football, culminating with the 1964 season in Boston. He signed with the Patriots, then of the American Football League, as a free agent and appeared in 12 of their 14 games as a defensive back and punt returner.

Cloutier led the Patriots with 20 punt returns for 136 yards (6.8 yards per return) and returned a kickoff for 46 yards.

Coming out of the University of Maine, Cloutier was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 18th round (242nd overall) of the 1962 National Football League draft. He chose instead to sign as a free agent with the AFL’s Buffalo Bills.

After sustaining an injury, he was released by Buffalo and spent a year away from professional football. He returned to Maine, where he coached at Kennebunk High School.

Cloutier was a three-sport athlete at Gardiner High School before accepting a football scholarship from the University of South Carolina. However, he transferred to UMaine.

Cloutier starred as a running back at UMaine from 1959 through 1961. He led the Black Bears in scoring in 1959 and 1961.

He led the team in rushing in 1959 and tied UMaine’s then single-game record of 159 rushing yards against Bates College. Cloutier earned All-Yankee Conference and All-Maine honors as a running back and was named the team’s Harold Westerman Most Valuable Player Award in 1961.

Cloutier finished his career with 174 carries for 1,025 yards.

He since been inducted into both the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

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