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Gaziano Award

Finalists and Guest Speaker Announced for Gaziano High School Football Awards Banquet

Former NFL Lineman John Huard will speak, $14,000 in scholarships will be awarded

SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE — Today Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors and Frank Gaziano's son-in-law, announced the finalists for the Frank Gaziano High School Scholarship and Awards. The list of six finalists consists of three offensive linemen and three defensive linemen from high schools across the state. Recently it was announced that this year the two winners will receive $5,000 each and the four runner-ups will receive $1,000. The increase in the amount doubles the scholarship from previous years, making it the largest high school scholarship of its kind in the country.

The award and scholarship presentations to the Gaziano Award winners will be announced at a banquet brunch on Sunday, January 27, at 9:00 a.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.   

Gaziano Award"This year we had a record number of nominees and tons of great candidates to choose from. The coaches and families of all the nominees should be very proud of their student athletes; we saw excellent attributes in all the nominees. We have worked hard to narrow the list and select the six finalists and we look forward to announcing the winners at the banquet," said Jeff Kane, president of National Distributors Inc.

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, and a former college All-American and professional football player with a lifelong passion for local sports.

The Annual Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards are presented to players who epitomize the character, leadership, and perseverance of Gaziano. Recipients will be selected by the awards committee based on their strong leadership on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.  

Frank J. Gaziano Memorial Award Finalists:  

Offensive Linemen Defensive Linemen
Bobby Begin, Thornton Academy Greg Duff, Bangor High School
Jack Lucy, Orono High School  Zachary Kendall, Mt. Blue High School
Andy Martel, Bonny Eagle High School  Kurt Massey, John Bapst

Each finalist will receive free tickets to attend the banquet. At the event, one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman will each be awarded a trophy, a Gaziano Awards leather jacket and a scholarship of $5,000.    

To qualify for consideration, each applicant must be a high school senior, have competed at the varsity level for a minimum of two years, and have an exemplary record of positive athletic and non-athletic citizenship. The submission of a student essay and a game film featuring the applicant competing against his toughest competitor are also part of the application process. Applicants from all levels of Maine's high school football three-class system are eligible for the scholarship and are nominated by their coaches. For more information on the banquet or the scholarship program visit www.gazianolinemanawards.org.
   
Funding for the $14,000 in scholarships is being provided by National Distributors Inc. in South Portland, the company founded by the late Frank J. Gaziano. The awards committee will also be securing sponsorships ranging from $50-$500 so players and families of the student athletes can attend the banquet free of charge. If you are interested in attending the event or contributing to the scholarship fund, call (207) 363-9141.      

The selection committee for the Frank J. Gaziano Lineman Awards includes Chris Davis, Charles Hews, Mark Bonnevie, Mike Haley, Tim Rice, Ed McAleney, Mike Marston, Dan O'Connell, Bob Sinclair, Peter DeSimon, Matt Perkins and Pete Cloutier.

National Distribuors Inc., also announced that John Huard will be the guest speaker at the Gaziano Awards banquet on January 27. Huard, nicknamed "Big John," played college football at the University of Maine from 1963-1966. The former Black Bear was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round of the 1967 American Football League Draft. He played three seasons as a linebacker for the Broncos and later played in the National Football League with the New Orleans Saints. Near the end of his career, he played in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes and the Toronto Argonauts before he retired in 1975. He later returned to football as a head coach.

Huard, 68, was born in Waterville, Maine and has several ties to football in New England. In 2003 Huard was the first player inducted into the "Ring of Honor" at Fitzpatrick Stadium and is currently the CEO of Northeast Turf in South Portland, Maine and the Northeast representative of FieldTurf. He was part of the installation process for the FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots) that was installed in 2006.