By Kevin ThomasPortland Press HeraldAUGUSTA — They both grew up awaiting their chance to play varsity football for their high schools.They would play — and excel.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textDavid Gross of Bucksport and Nate Mars of Scarborough were named winners of the Gaziano Lineman Awards on Saturday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center. The event, now in its 10th year, honors the best senior linemen in the state. Mars was named the best on defense, Gross the best on offense.“My heart was pounding out of my chest. I couldn’t believe it,” Gross said. He was chosen over two other finalists, Jack Rogers of Thornton Academy and Leavitt’s Riley Parmenter.Mars called the moment “surreal” when he realized he was picked for the defensive award ahead of Will Horton of Bonny Eagle and Leavitt’s Cam Jordan.Mars and Gross received $5,000 scholarships, while the other finalists received $1,000 scholarships. The awards are sponsored by National Distributors, the company created by the late Frank Gaziano, who was a lineman at Waltham (Mass.) High School, Holy Cross and in the NFL.Mars had attended this award presentation before. His brother, Logan Mars, received the Gaziano offensive award for the 2011 season.Ellsworth/Sumner’s Connor Crawford (left) and Maranacook’s Gerit Laliberte pose for a photo with their semifinalist plaques during the Fitzpatrick Trophy banquet Jan. 26 in Portland. The two were among 12 players nominated for the award, given annually to the best senior football player in the state of Maine. DUANE CRAWFORD PHOTO“I was sitting in that seat eight year ago,” said Mars, who admits to enjoying some brotherly competition. “We are eight years apart, so it’s hard to be directly competitive. He did set a standard that I’ve tried to surpass in every way that I could.”Nate Mars could not wait to play for the Red Storm. As a sophomore, he started at defensive end on the Class A state championship team. The past two seasons, he’s started on both sides of the ball at defensive tackle and offensive left tackle.Mars will play college football somewhere. He has been accepted to the Coast Guard Academy and Merchant Marine Academy. He’s waiting to hear from the Army, Navy and Air Force academies and has congressional nominations for all three.Gross, who led Bucksport to a 9-1 season and Class D North championship this year, will play his college football closer to home. He’s mulling offers from the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire.“David is just an outstanding young man with a work ethic that’s through the roof,” said Bucksport assistant coach Sean Geagan (filling in for head coach Joel Sankey, who was out of town).“He’s had that same ethic since Pop Warner.”Gross always demonstrated commitment, whether in youth football or his early days as the Bucksport water boy.“I couldn’t wait to be on the high school field,” Gross said, “and now it’s over. It’s crazy. Time flies.”Gross was a two-way starter for the Golden Bucks for four years. He was named Little Ten Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year and Player of the Year this past fall.Both Mars and Gross are members of the National Honor Society.Crawford honored at Fitzpatrick banquetEllsworth/Sumner senior Connor Crawford was honored as a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist at Sunday’s banquet in Portland.Crawford, who led Ellsworth/Sumner to a playoff appearance in its first year of eight-man play this fall, rushed for 1,632 yards on 225 carries this season while throwing for 218 yards and four touchdowns. He also excelled on defense, where he racked up 39 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, one interception and one sack.Crawford was originally nominated for the award, given annually to the top senior football player in Maine, in December. He was one of two eight-man players nominated selected, the other being Maranacook’s Gerit Laliberte.Marshwood’s Justin Bryant was named the award winner after rushing for 1,522 yards and 33 touchdowns on offense and recording 68 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and four sacks on defense for the Class B champion Hawks. Bryant won the award over fellow finalists Zach Maturo (Bonny Eagle) and Jarett Flaker (Scarborough).This story has been amended to include information about Sunday’s Fitzpatrick Trophy banquet in Portland.