Fryeburg Academy’s Tucker Buzzell named Class C South Player of the Year


TOP FOOTBALL HONORS — Fryeburg Academy Head Football Coach David Turner (right), Assistant Coach David Jones, and Raider senior Tucker Buzzell were awarded the Campbell Conference Head Coach of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year, and Player of the Year, respectively. 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — In the eyes of Class C South coaches, Tucker Buzzell of Fryeburg Academy was the conference’s best football player in 2018.

A senior, Buzzell has been named the 2018 Campbell Conference Player of the Year. The award was presented at the league banquet on Sunday, Nov. 18. Buzzell lead the Raiders in tackles for two straight seasons, averaged over 10 tackles per game, had a strip and fumble recovery for a touchdown, and sacked the quarterback five times. He is just the second Raider in Coach David Turner’s tenure to capture the award — the other being Ryan Gullikson in 2015.

Also, Raider head coach David Turner and assistant coach David Jones were named the Campbell Conference Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively.

“It’s a great honor for Tucker,” Coach Turner said. “He played at a high level this season and throughout his Academy football career. He’s earned this award through hard work. He is the consummate high energy player. A four-year starter, Tucker possesses both the athletic ability and high football IQ needed to excel on both sides of the ball.”

Buzzell was a force from his linebacker position.

“His willingness to put time in studying film provided him with an outstanding ability to anticipate the opponent’s next play. He constantly amazed his us with his ability to be in the right place at the right time. He’s a tireless worker committed to maximizing his abilities. You could always find him in the weight room after practice getting in an extra workout.”

Coach Turner said his senior captain became an extension of the coaching staff, often making needed adjustments on the fly during the game.

“He always put the team first. He has been one of the anchors on the offensive line for his entire football career. He is extremely athletic and has the ability to play many different offensive positions — running back, wide receiver, tight end — yet he’s enthusiastically played center because it is what is best for team. He understands that the success of an offense is predicated on the play the offensive line,” Coach Turner added.

At the awards banquet, seniors Oscar Saunders and Reece Kneissler and junior Calvin Southwick were recognized as members of the Campbell Conference First Team All-Stars. The play of Buzzell, Saunders, Kneissler and Southwick helped lead the Raiders to a 10-2 record, earning the Raiders the Class C South Championship and a spot for the Class C State Championship — something the team had not accomplished since 1965. Despite the tough 13-12 loss against Nokomis in the state championship game at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, Coach Turner is proud of his team’s accomplishments.

“We played hard, but just came up one point short,” Turner said. “These guys played their hearts out. Though it really hurts now, someday they will look back and realize how much they accomplished.”

Coach Turner added, “We, as coaches are recognized when our teams win a lot of games, and when your team wins a lot of games, it means you have good players. We won a lot of games and have really good players; these coaches awards are simply a result of the team’s success.”

The “Buzz” Saw

A hard-hitting, relentless and big play defense is often lead by a quick reacting, thumper linebacker.

At the pro level, those monsters in the middle include the likes of Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis and today’s version — Khalil Mack.

For Fryeburg Academy, the heart and soul of that stingy Raider D was senior Tucker Buzzell — #50, often referred to as “Buzz” Saw by some FA fans, who yelled out that nickname following a big-time hit that stopped opposing running backs in their tracks.

The News talked with Tucker about being named Player of the Year, as well as what made him and his Raider teammates so successful as they nearly claimed the gold ball a few weeks ago:

Q. How did you feel being named Player of the Year?

Tucker: I didn’t think about it much throughout the year or even at the banquet. I thought other guys would have received it over me. When I heard my name called, I was grateful and happy to receive the award. This award, 100%, was based off my teammates. I don’t go out there and single-handedly stop offenses or block a whole defense. Every person on the field with me deserves that award. Being a top-seed, winning our conference, having one of the best defenses in the league happened because we all did our jobs.

Q. Playing linebacker, what did you like about the position?

Tucker: I love playing linebacker. It’s the reason why I play. I love the fact that you are involved in everything. As a linebacker, you need to get your nose into every aspect of the game. You have to stop the run. Pass coverage. Pass rush. You are relied upon heavily to make a big play. There’s a lot that goes into the position — watching film, recognizing offenses. All of it, I love it.

Q. How did you feel you improved?

Tucker: Throughout the years, I’ve put a lot of time into weight-lifting. I can tell it made a difference. Sophomore year, I was kind of weak. This year, I felt physically, I could handle more people. It makes a big difference. Some of the other guys were buying into it, and it showed. I felt I prepared better. I look forward after every game — Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday — going home after a long day and watching film, studying other teams. I look at a lot of little things, so when I go into the game, I use those keys and make plays.

Coach Turner added, “Aside from getting stronger and faster, he became leader. He’s always been a ‘lead by example’ type or player, but this season he really became our unquestioned vocal, inspirational leader, as well.”

  1. Talk about also playing on the offensive side as the team’s center.

Tucker: I went out and tried to do the best that I could to help the team. Even though it wasn’t my favorite position, I took a lot of pride in playing it well. I know I’m not the best lineman, but I put my nose down and worked my hardest to help the team out…It helped me playing linebacker. Being an offensive lineman, I know what we’re trying to do. So, knowing how they (offensive linemen) are trying to attack, I know what keys to watch as I played linebacker.

Q. What did you hope to bring to the team this season?

Tucker: The biggest thing was leadership. We lost all of our captains. We lost a lot of seniors who were vocal. We knew we had a core of good young guys who can play, but as a group, we needed to guide ourselves. We needed people to lead the way. It started shaky, and I personally take blame for the first two weeks. I don’t think I did a good enough job getting the team ready. We didn’t come out strong. We didn’t have the right mentality. Eventually, I think the seniors stepped it up and it showed.

Q. If someone asked you to describe your “style” what would you say?

Tucker: I want to be known as that hard-working type of player. Humble, but when he goes out on the field, you can tell he is ready to make plays.

Q. What made this FA defense so special?

Tucker: Honestly, we wanted to prove a lot of people wrong. We knew we had a good defense last year. We had guys coming in that wanted to be part of it. Jack Campbell, he was a great linebacker for us. Liam (Harriman) was a great linebacker for us. We had a lot of guys that stepped it up and showed we had a lot of pride stopping other teams…Having trust in one another was huge. I’ve been a part of some great teams, but this one was probably the greatest of all. We were so competitive. Without this team, I wouldn’t have been recognized. Football is all about chemistry, and we had it. I honestly feel a football team can be very talented, but if they don’t bond and don’t have that chemistry, I don’t think they’re going to have a good season.

Q. As for the state game, what will you remember most?

Tucker: What I’ll remember most is ‘The Run’ that me and my brothers had. At the end of the state game, we were disappointed because as seniors we wanted to go out with a bang. But, what was most disappointing was the fact that we’re done suiting up together. We would have done anything to just replay the week — not to just get the win, but a chance to lace them up again and play as this team again.

Q. What has football taught you?

Tucker: It has taught me a lot of life lessons. Since I was in fourth grade (when I was pretty bad), football taught me that if you out work someone and are willing to put in extra time, it’s going to put you in a position to succeed. It’s taught me how to make friends, how to treat other people, a lot of life lessons.

Q. How tough has it been jumping right into basketball season without any break?

Tucker: It’s been rough. We had double sessions Monday and Tuesday, but I don’t want having a break to affect me, slow me down. I’m a little sore, but with a little rest, I’ll be okay.

Q. What are your future plans?

Tucker: I plan on playing football in college. I’ve applied to five schools and talked to the coaches. I’ll decide which school best fits me academically. I am going to study sports management, where I can help younger athletes.

Tucker Buzzell was a special player for the Raiders, and his head coach knows he will be a difficult piece to replace next fall because of “his work ethic, instinct on the field, selflessness and leadership.”

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