After flirting with playing baseball and football at a couple of Division I colleges, Cony High School’s Luke Duncklee has decided to play both sports at Division III Colby College in Waterville.
Duncklee was recruited by the University of Maine and guaranteed a roster spot on its baseball team but held off on making a decision. He later applied to the United States Military Academy at West Point where he drew the interest of football coaches after supplying a highlight tape. But he failed to pass a physical after a faint heart murmur was discovered.
“I weighed all my options,” Duncklee said. “I had to decide what was best for me, not only athletically but academically.”
One of his options was Colby, which expressed a desire for Duncklee to attend as long as two years ago.
Duncklee has starred in both sports at Cony in Augusta throughout his high school career. He also played hockey for three years at the Capital City school. As a sophomore he helped the Rams to the Class A baseball state championship where hit a home run in Cony’s 2-1 loss to Deering. A center fielder, he was later selected to the Maine Sunday Telegram all-state first team.
“I definitely recruited Luke for a couple of years,” Colby baseball coach Dale Plummer said. “I’ve seen him play a lot of games in the last few years. Obviously, he’s one of the best players we can get here.”
Duncklee became more interested in football after he was shifted to quarterback his junior year. Prior to that he played receiver and defensive back. Once he moved the quarterback, the Rams employed his ability to both throw and run. Over his final two seasons, Duncklee accounted for 50 touchdowns running and passing and nearly 5,000 yards.
His senior year, he passed for 1,440 yards and rushed for 1,147, combining for 26 touchdowns.
“Basically if I wasn’t passing I was running and if I wasn’t running I was passing,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Duncklee said. “We had a pretty wide open playbook.”
With Colby’s Nick Kmetz returning for his senior year at quarterback next fall, Duncklee will likely be a backup. He will probably gets some looks as a slot receiver or defensive back.
“I actually like it a lot,” Duncklee said of defense. “I started by sophomore year and I loved it, but it was kind of tough playing both ways.”
Duncklee played some defense last season. In fact, in a playoff game against Mt. Blue, he played offense and defense the entire game, punted and returned kicks.
He thought about playing either football or baseball at West Point. He visited the campus and watched a football game and later sent a highlight tape to the coaching staff.
“I met with the coaches when I visited there,” he said. “I was going to play. I would have been on the team.”
Duncklee may reapply to West Point and ask for a waiver. He’s known about his heart murmur for five years and said it’s never affected him.
For now, though, he’s committed to Colby and playing two sports. It’s not unprecedented. Three members of this year’s baseball team also played football.
“These guys just have a routine,” Plummer said. “You go to class, you go to practice, you study. It’s takes discipline.”
Despite its central Maine location, very few kids from the state go to Colby where admission standards are very high or play on its athletic teams.
“We’re excited about it,” Plummer said of Duncklee’s arrival. “I think Maine kids are gritty kids.”
MPA returns to two thirds rule
More high school teams will make the postseason next fall after membership of the Maine Principals’ Association voted to allow two thirds of the teams governed by sports under the Heal point scoring system to qualify for tournaments. For the past two years, 50 percent of teams qualified for postseason play.
MPA members voted for two thirds measure by about a 2-1 margin at the organization’s annual spring conference. A survey recently conducted by the MPA of member schools revealed that about two thirds of those schools favored returning to two thirds standard, The MPA also voted to retain a rule that limits non-countable or exhibition dates to five for a season along with one non-countable date between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the postseason.
Top pitching performances
Lincoln Academy’s Brandon Reilly struck out 21 batters to lead the unbeaten Eagles to a 4-3 win against Oak Hill in nine innings. Reilly allowed two hits and walked four.
Max Andrews of John Bapst fanned 11 and walked two as the Crusaders downed Old Town 13-1 in a game called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule. Andrews also hit a pair of home runs and drove in five.
South Portland’s Andrew Richards fanned seven and didn’t walk a batters as the Red Riots downed Portland 7-0. Richards allowed just two hits and at one point retired 23 consecutive batters.
Waterville senior Tim Locke pitched a perfect game in a 19-0 win over Mt. View called after five innings due to the mercy rule. Locke struck out 10 for the defending Class B state champions.
Two of the top pitching and catching combinatons in the state are comprised of brothers. At Westbrook, senior left-hander Scott Heath and freshman Kyle Heath form a strong battery. Scott, who helped Westbrook to the Little League World Series six years ago, will pitch at the University of Maine next season.
At Lewiston, senior catcher McKae Hyde and his sophomore brother and catcher Corbin are another potent combination. McKae will play at Bates College next season. The teams could meet in the Class A state championship game. Westbrook is 4-0 in Western Maine while Lewiston in 5-1 in the East.
Hermon High gets donation
A $100,000 donation by UFC president Dana White to his alma mater will mean significant upgrades to the athletic complex at Hermon High School.
A multiports scoreboard/message center has already been purchased and will be located in one corner of Pottle Field. Additional seating for the football field is also been purchased and will increase the seating capacity from 550 to 800. Hermon is scheduled to field a varsity football team this fall for the first time.
White, 41, graduated form Hermon in 1987. He lives in Las Vegas where he serves as president and CEO of Ultimate Fighting Championship.
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