SACO – The 2016 football season finally came to an end this past weekend for Thornton Academy’s Michael Laverriere when he was named as the 46th recipient of the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy.
Laverriere, a four-year starter for the Golden Trojans, was the third player in the school’s history to win the award. Bob Giroux won in 1986, Art Leveris in 1991, and now Laverriere will add his name to that list.
The banquet hall at the Holiday in by the Bay in Portland was filled with coaches, players, family, and friends as everyone in attendance waited to hear the winner’s name called.
Laverriere, Trey Wood from Brewer, and Dylan Bolduc from Portland were named as finalists this year. For Laverriere, it was something that he’d set his sights on since his freshman year.
“I’ve been coming to these for four years and after my freshman year, this was a goal of mine,” Laverriere said.
Recently, Laverriere was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Maine and when he was just a freshman, Kevin Kezal, the longtime Thornton coach, was faced with the prospect of replacing senior Andrew Libby who tore his ACL four minutes into his senior season.
“Michael became a four-year starter out of necessity,” Kezal said as he introduced Laverriere. “We knew he was something special when in one of his first games, he ran for 124 yards on nine carries and scored two touchdowns.”
During his football career, Laverriere amassed many noteworthy statistics. He rushed for nearly 2,200 yards and gained 3,500 yards in total offense. A two-way player, and someone who played many different positions, Laverriere was often one of the leading tacklers for the team and finished with close to 180 tackles and nine interceptions.
“Our players are often judged by how they play against our best opponents and this past year, against Bonny Eagle and Scarborough, Michael averaged 260 yards and nine touchdowns,” Kezal said.
Finally, Kezal went on to explain that most of these accomplishments came after Laverriere tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder.
“We were more reliant on Michael this year, on one player, since I’ve been a head coach,” Kezal said. “And yet, there were weeks where Michael didn’t throw a single pass in practice.”
Laverriere has had a storied football career, and when he rose to make some introductory remarks at the banquet, he was sure to thank his parents, brother, teammates, and coaches.
“I think the first word my dad taught me was touchdown,” he joked and then went on to describe his time at Thornton.
“I remember when Andrew (Libby) was hurt his senior season,” he said. “He never sulked or felt sorry for himself and he continued to come to practice and support the team.”
During his career, he personally accomplished many goals, but said, “I will always remember winning back-to-back state championships and the people who supported me.”
Laverriere went on to specifically thank two of his teachers at Thornton Academy Middle School, Bob Lepauloue and Elizabeth Cooney.
“The support of the school community and the tradition we have is unmatched,” Laverriere said as finished his remarks with one last piece of advice for other players in the room.
“There is no substitute for hard work. You work hard and you’ll find your way onto the field.”
Before the winner was announced, each of the nominated players and their coaches spoke. Jack Cosgrove, the former head football coach at the University of Maine, stood one more time before the lectern and looked at Laverriere, Wood, and Bolduc.
Each player had their eyes cast down and waited to hear the winner’s name called. Cosgrove made them wait a little longer. He told the assembled family, friends and coaches, “This is the coolest thing I have ever done.”
Fumbling slightly with a small, letter sized envelope, he announced: “The winner of the 2016 James J. Fitzpatrick trophy is Michael Laverriere.”