SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - The selection committee for the 2015 Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards today announced six finalists for what is the largest high school scholarship of its kind in the country. The award winners will be announced at a luncheon ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 12 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. Since 2009, the award has provided Maine high school seniors with more than $40,000 in scholarships.
The scholarship and awards program for Maine high school football linemen was created in 2010 in memory of Frank J. Gaziano, founder of National Distributors in South Portland, and a former college All-American and professional football player with a lifelong passion for local sports. One offensive and one defensive lineman will each receive $5,000 and a first place trophy, and four runners-up will receive $1,000.
For the first time in history of the event, the Gaziano Awards will be streamed live by Munzing Media by visiting www.munzingmediasports.com/gaziano-award. The video broadcast will begin live at 1 p.m. ET.
Gaziano Lineman Award Finalists:
Elijah Ayotte, Thornton Academy
Ayotte has made the honor roll all four years at Thornton Academy and has been named a first team all-SMAA selection three years in a row. In 2015, he won the Gerry Raymond Award as the top lineman in Class A South. A two-sport athlete (lacrosse), his extracurricular activities include volunteering for Mary's Walk and Kerryman's Pub 5K, assisting the elderly and two mission trips to clean up areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Frank Curran, Cheverus
Curran, a three year starter for the Stags, was captain of the 2015 squad. He finished the season with 63 tackles and five sacks and was named lineman of the year in Class A North. As an active member of his community, he has helped with community clean-up projects, volunteered at the local food kitchen, helped with food drives and participated in several events to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Tyrell Gullatt, Windham
Gullatt has made the honor roll in each of his four years at Windham High School. He has been a member of the Spanish Honor Society and received recognition for his academics in algebra, social studies and chemistry. In addition to being a member of the Be The Influence Action Committee, Gullatt helps with Windham youth football camps, volunteers at the Windham Car Show and cleans Kingdom Hall. On the field, he has received several honors, including being named a first team all conference lineman and lineman of the week at Windham 13 times during his career.
Charles Kovarik, Portland
In the classroom, Kovarik is consistently on the honor roll and has received the National Latin Exam Bronze Medal and U.S. Army Reserve Scholar Athlete Award. His extracurricular activities include serving on the Class of 2016 executive board, and he has been a member of the lacrosse team and ski club. As a two-year starter on the football team, this season he helped the Bulldogs team rush for more than 3,500 yards and earned all-conference honors. He was also a member of the All-Academic team. In his spare time, Kovarik has volunteered at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen, coached youth football clinics and volunteered at the Kids First Center in Portland.
Alec Clark, Winslow
Clark has made the honor roll at Winslow High School and earned High Honors MMTC in 2014-2015. A four-year starter, Clark has never missed a game in his high school career. He is a two-time all-conference selection and in 2015 led the Winslow defense with 54 tackles and five sacks. In 2015 he was named to the first team all-conference team on both offense and defensive side of the ball. He was also named the Morning Sentinel Player of the Year and Big Ten Player of the Year. Away from the field, he is a three-time powerlifting champion for his age group in Maine and holds several United States records. His extracurricular activities include horseback riding and he is a member of the 4-H Club. He volunteers by coaching youth football and cheerleading. He has also volunteered for food drives and supported the local homeless shelter. Clark is also a business owner of A.C Pumpkins in Winslow.
Isaac Patry, Thornton Academy
Patry, who ranks in the top 35% of his class, has been on the honor roll at Thornton consistently over his fours years. His academic honors also include a certificate of excellence in honor algebra 1 and biology, he was member of the SMAA all-academic team. This past season, he was also a second team offensive and defensive lineman in Class A South. In addition to football, he has been a member of the student council, ski club and baseball and lacrosse teams. In the community, Patry has volunteered at both Mary's Walk and the Kerryman's Pub 5K. He also has coached youth football and provided field maintenance for the Saco Little League.
"There were several amazing semifinalists and our committee had a very hard job this year to decide on the six finalists. Each of the finalists has clearly dedicated their time to not only their sport, but just as important, their work in the classroom and the community," said Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors, Inc. and Frank Gaziano's son-in-law.
The annual Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards are presented to players who epitomize the character, leadership, and perseverance of Gaziano. The selection committee chooses award winners based on their strong leadership on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.
For more information on the awards luncheon or the scholarship program, visit www.gazianolinemanawards.org.
Editor's Note: Finalists for the 2015 Gaziano Awards and Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards, are available for interviews by contacting Greg Glynn at Nancy Marshall Communications at 207-623-4177.
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