Wednesday, March 12, 2014
PORTLAND — Ben Lucas spent much of the fall breaking numerous records on a football field.
Derek Davis/Staff Photographer: Ben Lucas, quarterback for Cony High School, won the James L. Fitzpatrick Trophy, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, at Holiday Inn by The Bay in Portland.
On a snowy Sunday, the Cony quarterback made history off it.
The 6-foot-4 Lucas, one of the most prolific passing quarterbacks in Maine high school football history, became the first Cony player to win the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Lucas said. “It’s incredible. It’s a special feeling. I just don’t even know what to say.”
Lucas, Kennebunk running back/linebacker Nicco DeLorenzo and Portland running back Justin Zukowski were recognized and honored as finalists at the 43rd annual Fitzpatrick Trophy award banquet at the Holiday Inn by the Bay.
But shortly before 2:30 p.m., former Lawrence running back and 1988 Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Kirk Matthieu stepped to the podium and announced Lucas as this year’s recipient of the award, which is given to the top senior in the state.
A large Cony contingent, which included more than a dozen teammates, erupted in jubilation.
“Finally, I can breathe,” said Chip Lucas, Ben’s father and a Cony assistant coach.
So, too, could his son.
Ben Lucas accepted the award, thanked his supporters and then talked about a perfect ending to a dream-like season.
“It’s incredible what we were able to accomplish,” Lucas said.
Cony made history this fall when it won its first-ever state championship game, a 30-23 decision over DeLorenzo and Kennebunk. Cony won a state title in 1932, when there were no playoffs.
Lucas engineered a dramatic comeback against Kennebunk, leading his team back from a 16-0 third-quarter deficit. He threw for 347 yards — 307 in the second half — and three touchdowns.
The touchdowns gave Lucas a state record 89 for his career.
“This is the icing on the cake,” Lucas said. “We had quite a year. The bottom line, though, is that this award is all about my teammates, too. We accomplished all this together.”
Added Cony coach Robby Vachon: “He is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of our game. This is a pretty emotional time. It’s the first one in the history of our program. What he did on the football field is nothing short of incredible.”
Lucas finished his career with 7,575 passing yards, good for second in state history behind former Winthrop quarterback Lee St. Hilaire. Lucas threw for 3,357 yards and a state-record 41 touchdowns this season. He went 4-1 in five career playoff games, completing 109 of 191 passes for 1,421 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Wearing a white dress shirt and a Cony-red tie, Lucas gave a 4 minute, 42-second speech in which he thanked teammates, coaches and family.
“It’s a dream come true to be up for this award,” he said.
Lucas also singled out to a pair of games that will stay with him in the years to come. The first was the state championship victory over Kennebunk.
The second was a 48-0 loss to Messalonskee in his sophomore season.
“That year we finished 2-7,” said Lucas, who is undecided on his collegiate plans. “None of us enjoy losing so we decided we were going to change what Cony football was known as. We wanted to reach the next level of high school football. We didn’t want to settle for being mediocre. We made football a year-round commitment. We wanted to change 1932 to 2013. We changed the climate in Augusta. We wanted to make Augusta a football town.”