SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine - The selection committee for the 2018 Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards today announced the six finalists for what is the largest high school scholarship of its kind in the country. The annual 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.
Jeff Kane, retired president of National Distributors, Inc. and Frank Gaziano's son-in-law, said the finalists consist of three senior offensive linemen and three senior defensive linemen representing a range of high schools across the state. The finalists were named after the selection committee interviewed each of the semi-finalists to determine the finalists.
"The committee had a terrific group of student athletes to choose from again this year. Based on their accomplishments, each of the finalists has proven to be dedicated to their sport, academics and communities," said Kane. "On behalf of the Gaziano family, congratulations to all the finalists and their families and I am looking forward to meeting them and helping announce the winner on January 26 at the Augusta Civic Center."
Gaziano Lineman Award Finalists:
Chase Lamantogne, Kennebunk High School
Lamontagne, a captain on the football team, has a 95 GPA, earning him Campbell Conference All-Academic Team honors in 2018. In addition to being a three sport athlete, he is a member of the National Honor Society. In 2018, he was named the winner of the Wendy's High School Heisman at Kennebunk High School. His community involvement includes extensive work with Special Olympics of Maine for the past five years.
Aiden McGlone, Bonny Eagle High School
McGlone has achieved high honors since 2015 and is ranked 3rd in his class. He was inducted into the National Honor Society, has won numerous academic awards and was named to the WCSH 6 Varsity Club, SMAA All Conference Team and SMAA All Academic Team his senior year. In addition to football, he is also a member of Bonny Eagle's lacrosse team and unified basketball team. He mentors several students, helping them to fit in socially at the high school. He is active in the community with involvement in the Special Olympics of Maine, youth coaching, the Buxton Food Pantry and Savage Family Turkey Trot.
Zachary Reed, Scarborough High School
As captain of the football team and three-year starter as left guard, Reed was named to the SMAA All-Academic team in his senior season, was named to the SMAA First Team at offensive line and received the Scarborough High School Coach's Award. He was also the recipient of the Gerry Raymond Award as the best lineman in the SMAA. He has been a member of the Red Storm weightlifting club, band and Fire Explorers program. He has volunteered in the community for several organizations, including Project Grace, the Team Kyle 5K, Habitat for Humanity and the Coastal Community Church.
Cole Melanson, Leavitt Area High School
Melanson has been on the honor roll at Leavitt Area High School since his freshman year. He has taken AP classes in engineering, physics and calculus. On the field in 2018, he registered 55 tackles and three sacks, was named to the Campbell Conference All-Conference team and was a Player of the Year finalist. He was also voted as the team MVP and lineman of the year. He is a three sport athlete, including the sport of weightlifting where he set the deadlift and bench press state records. He has volunteered more than 100 hours in the community during the past four years, including work with the Dempsey Challenge.
Nicholas Mills, Cony High School
Mills has a 4.0 GPA, is ranked fifth in his class and is a member of the National Honor Society. In additional to his work in the classroom, he is a member of the Cony Rams wrestling, lacrosse, math and football teams. In 2018, on the field, he led the Pine Tree Conference with 65 tackles, including 10 sacks, and was named first team All-Conference as defensive end and offensive tackle. He has spent significant time volunteering in the community at the Cohen Center, Penny Memorial United Baptist Church, the Travis Mills Foundation and as a wrestling coach.
Thomas Palmer, Thornton Academy
Palmer has been on the honor roll since his freshman year at Thornton Academy. He is among the top 25 percent of students in his class and was a member of the 2018 SMAA All-Academic Team. As a member of the state championship team for the Trojans, he was also named to the SMAA First Team as a defensive tackle. In addition to football, Palmer is a member of the Trojans indoor and outdoor track teams. Palmer is involved at Thornton Academy in several extracurricular activities, including Model U.N. and the Ambassadors Club. In the community, he participates in numerous volunteering activities with Mary's Walk for cancer research and coaches youth sports with the Saco Little League and Saco Junior Trojan Football program and is alter server at Most Holy Trinity Church.
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. During the past eight years of the Gaziano Awards, $96,000 has been awarded by National Distributors to Maine students. This year, one offensive and one defensive lineman will each receive $5,000 and a first place trophy, and four runners-up and will receive $1,000. The award winners will be announced at a luncheon ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 11 a.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Mike DeVito. DeVito, age 34, played college football at the University of Maine. He spent eight seasons in the NFL as defensive end for the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs before he retired in 2016.
There will also be a special ceremony at the event to honor the late Michael Haley, who passed away in August of 2018. Haley was a former member of the Gaziano Awards committee and long-time coach and football icon in Maine.
Editor's Note: Finalists for the 2018 Gaziano Awards and Peter DeSimon, president of the Gaziano Awards, are available for interviews by contacting Greg Glynn at Marshall Communications at (207) 623-4177.
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