ELLSWORTH — One of the area’s top football players is set to continue his career right here in Hancock County.
Connor Crawford will trade the maroon and white for blue and gold this fall as he suits up for Maine Maritime Academy. The Ellsworth High School senior informed the MMA coaching staff of the decision last Wednesday after considering offers from several other schools in New England and around the country.
“I think it’s the right place for me to be all around,” Crawford said. “I’m going to get the education I want, and I get to stay right here at home.”
Crawford, a four-year starter for Ellsworth/Sumner, was a versatile player at the skill positions on offense and an all-around standout on defense. The three-year captain was a three-time all-conference selection and was also one of 12 semifinalists for the Fitzpatrick Trophy in 2019.
Crawford chose MMA over New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University and St. Anselm College. Yet Duane Crawford, Connor’s father and the former Ellsworth/Sumner head coach, said his son had also been in contact with programs in the South and Midwest as well as one all the way out in California.
“The recruiting process can be tough, but he got a lot of attention,” said Duane Crawford, who coached the Eagles for eight years prior to his resignation in November. “Between the emails and the phone calls, we had a lot of schools inquire about him. He had plenty of options.”
As a senior, Crawford rushed for 1,632 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 218 yards and four touchdowns on offense and recorded 39 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, one interception and one sack on defense. He finished his career as an Eagle with 3,901 rushing yards, 44 rushing touchdowns, 15 passing touchdowns, 114 solo tackles, 54 assisted tackles, three interception-return touchdowns and two kick-return touchdowns.
More important than Crawford’s stats, though, was his durability. Ellsworth/Sumner’s relatively small roster size meant players were frequently called upon to play on both sides of the ball, and few (if any) players saw more snaps than Crawford.
“There were plenty of games where we would run around 120 plays,” Duane Crawford said. “When you’re a college, and you see a kid who stays on the field for all of that, you’re going to love it.”
Crawford was a major piece in Ellsworth/Sumner’s ability to maintain a competitive team throughout the latter part of the decade. Whereas many of the Eagles’ Little Ten Conference and eight-man opponents were long-established programs with football traditions, Ellsworth/Sumner has spent recent years establishing itself in the Maine high school football ranks after the community went without a varsity program for 56 years.
“I think the biggest thing I’m going to carry with me is that underdog mentality,” Crawford said. “We knew we were going to fight for every win and that no game was ever going to be easy for us.”
Crawford joins Ellsworth/Sumner teammate Ethan DesJardin and Mount Desert Island’s Adam Burdzel and Sam Hoff as one of four Hancock County high school graduates set to play for MMA this season. The lone other Hancock County native from the Mariners’ 2019 roster, linebacker Spencer Baron of Mariaville, played his high school football at John Bapst.
Crawford plans to study international business and logistics in college. Between MMA offering his major of choice and expressing such a strong desire to see him in a Mariner uniform, the stars have aligned for the Ellsworth/Sumner star to play football and continue his education locally.
“I’ve always said it didn’t matter how far away I went as long as I could play, but between [the proximity of the campus] and my education, they gave me such a great option for my future,” Crawford said. “I’m going to go out hungry and ready to prove myself.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Connor Crawford would be the lone Hancock County high school graduate on the Maine Maritime Academy roster. It has been updated with the correct information, which was not available on the team website at the time of publication.