If you were at this year’s Class A state title football game at Fitzpatrick Stadium, you probably saw a kid in white and maroon, sprinting down the field and running over defenders left and right. No we’re not talking about Lonnie Hackett of Bangor, though he was wearing similar colors and doing much of the same thing.
That kid was Windham’s own Jack Mallis, and he had been doing the same thing all season long.
Last weekend Mallis got recognized for all of that hard work, as he was named the 39th winner of the James J. Fitzpatrick award. The honor goes to the best senior football player in the state of Maine, and is voted on by coaches and local media. Hackett, as well as Nic Crutchfield of Dirigo were also finalists for the award.
“I had talked to Nic before on Facebook, so me and him were friends, but before the ceremony we all hung out and talked about football and classes, so it was cool,” said Mallis of the other finalists.
“Then we’re all sitting there and looking at each other like ‘oh dude are you nervous? Because I’m nervous’,” added Mallis.
His nerves were soon relieved though, as his name was called as the winner.
Mallis, who has been playing running back since second grade, worked on his speed and agility during the last offseason. He said adding that speed to his game allowed him to get the numbers he did. He finished the season with 1,686 yards and 26 touchdowns, four of which came in the Class A state final.
“I’ve always played running back, so I’ve always known it and it’s just like habit to me,” said Mallis. “Last year I was big and strong, but definitely not as fast. And I think that the quickness and footwork just helped me make those big plays.”
Mallis is the first player from Windham to win the Fitzpatrick, and he is getting recognition from other sources as well. He was also named this season’s Gatorade Player of the Year. It’s not those personal achievements that he says he’ll remember most though.
“It’s cool to be able to put the trophy in the case and say I was the first one to win that, said Mallis. “But for us to put up the state title banner and say we were the first to win that, it’s cool too.”
Mallis said his job was made easier because he was surrounded by quality players on both sides of the ball. He said that having players on his team that everyone can rely on, makes doing your own job that much simpler.
“A lot of us have been playing together since fourth grade, and we were on the team that lost to Bonny Eagle in eighth grade,” said Mallis of his senior class. “So to win it with them was great.”
Windham coach Matt Perkins was quick to note that feeling of team accomplishment as well.
“Him getting that award is a great personal achievement, but I hope his teammates realize that they had a big part in that too,” said Perkins. “We had a few guys who could’ve easily been nominated for that award, but it’s tough as a coach where you can only nominate one guy.”
Though he has received offers from a handful of colleges, he has yet to make a decision on where he’ll be going next fall. Mallis says that football is definitely part of his plans, but right now he’s still taking in winning these awards, but more importantly, the Gold Ball.
“It’s everything that I’ve ever dreamed about, and everything that I have wished would happen,” said Mallis.