John Bapst's Zane Baker goes in for a tackle on Foxcroft quarterback Austin Seavey as he runs the ball in the first half of a Nov. 5 game at Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft.  Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Austin Seavey hasn’t always been the biggest kid on the football field. As he entered high school, he even considered giving up the sport to play on the golf team.

But the decision he reached four years ago to remain true to the gridiron is one he celebrates today after quarterbacking Foxcroft Academy to the 2021 Class D state championship and this week being named one of 12 semifinalists for the 50th James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy symbolic of the top high school senior football player in Maine.

“I wouldn’t say I expected it but [Foxcroft] coach [Danny White] told me he had nominated me for it and gave me a couple of papers I needed to fill out for him,” said the 5-foot-10, 165-pound  Seavey. “He thought I had a good chance of being a semifinalist so he probably expected it more than I did, but I’m definitely excited to be one of the final 12.”

The Fitzpatrick Trophy is presented annually except for last year when the high school tackle football season was canceled due to COVID-19. Players are nominated by high school football coaches from around Maine, and a selection committee then considers athletic, academic and citizenship factors when paring the field down to the semifinalists.

This year’s other semifinalists are QB-linebacker Hunter Norton of Camden Hills in Rockport; Liam Van Oesen, QB-LB of Waterville; Gabe Aucoin, running back/LB of Morse in Bath; Jack Emerson, QB/defensive back of Thornton Academy in Saco; Hunter Hayes, QB/RB/safety of Leavitt in Turner; Thomas Horton, offensive lineman/defensive lineman of Bonny Eagle in Standish; Robert “Will” Ledbetter, QB of Windham; Caden McDuffie, QB/linebacker of Cape Elizabeth; Casey Mills, tight end/DL of Cony in Augusta; Isaiah Oufiero, TE/LB of Oxford Hills in South Paris; and Anthony Prak, RB/S of Noble in North Berwick.

Head coaches and media members will use ranked-choice voting to narrow the field to three finalists later this month, with the winner announced during a banquet in Portland on Jan. 16.

Seavey, who became Foxcroft’s starting quarterback midway through his sophomore season, guided the Ponies this fall to an 11-0 record and the program’s first state championship since the Ponies captured the Class C crown in 2012.

He was voted Class D player of the year, offensive player of the year and first-team quarterback by the division’s coaches after completing 115 of 183 passes for 1,617 yards with 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

There was a learning curve for Seavey, who admits he was thrown into the position on a middling team that nonetheless had a lot of players, including receiver Logan Martin, who now plays at UMaine. Seavey forced the ball to Martin often and made bad reads, he said.

“Decision making is something me and my coaches have worked on, and this year I threw only two interceptions and one was off a dropped pass so that’s something I’ve definitely improved,” he said.

Seavey also contributed to Foxcroft’s rushing attack by amassing 394 yards and four touchdowns on 74 carries, including a 3-yard run that produced the winning touchdown in the Ponies’ 19-16 state championship-game victory over Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale.

“My sophomore year, coach didn’t really let me run the ball,” Seavey said. “A lot of that was due to my size and strength, so I definitely put in a lot of time in the weight room trying to get bigger, stronger and faster so I could also run the ball because a quarterback who can run the ball adds a whole other element to a team’s offense.”

Seavey now is playing basketball at Foxcroft but continues to pursue an opportunity to continue his football career in college. It’s something he might not have considered as he entered high school in the fall of 2018 given his passion for golf at the time.

“I had pretty good success in middle-school football but knew it was a giant step coming up to play high school football,” Seavey said. “I really, really enjoyed golf. I golfed every day that summer and I’d always loved golf growing up and was getting pretty good at it.”

But a couple of his friends’ fathers intervened, suggesting that if he gave up football he’d regret it for the rest of his life. Seavey listened. He is glad he did.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football, especially after I came into high school and started to really understand the game and my love for the game grew,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole high school career.

“I’m just trying to go somewhere where I can get a great education and also play the game that I love while doing it. If I’m able to do that, it would be a huge blessing.”

Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...