Deemed initially too small for New Jersey High School football and thwarted by a heart murmur upon attaining adequate size, Henry (Rabbit) Dombkowski nonetheless "grew" quickly into a University of Maine legend - all 5'10" and 162 fighting pounds of him; one of the most memorable backs of the storied State Series.
The aptly nicknamed four-year ace (freshman eligible in the immediate postwar era) was so valuable to the Black Bears that he went both ways, even as platoon ball was taking root.
Typical of the fulsome Dombkowski arsenal was his handiwork in Maine's 7-6 upset of Bowdoin in 1948, setting the stage for a three-way State title tie ultimately forged as Bates joined both sets of Bears by downing Colby.
Rabbit shared running honors with such able mates as Phil Coulombe, Reggie Lord and Alton Sproul. He also kicked the deciding placement and made two big defensive plays, an interception and a tackle to nip Polar Bear rally attempts.
In addition to consecutive All-State selections, Dombkowski, as a junior, made the Associated Press 1947 Little All-America Third Team and gained Honorable Mention on the AP's Eastern College All-Star squad.
Good for steady yardage and always a breakaway threat with his speed, boundless drive and elusiveness from scrimmage or on kick returns, the Rabbit averaged a potent 5.6 yards a carry that season and let the State in scoring with 71 points as he sparked the University's first State championship in 13 yeas.
Other stints by the U of M Hall-of-Famer: Intramural championships in boxing, wrestling and track. Dombkowski extended his rich gridiron career with three smashing seasons with the Rumford Y.E.W. team in the Maine Semi-Pro Football League. He dominated that circuit as leading scorer, yardage-gainer and kick returner, pacing the Vets to three unbeaten campaigns and as many titles.
Dombkowski settled in the Bethel area as a mill manager and superintendent, was a town selectman for eight years, served as a soccer and lacrosse official as well as a ski patroller at Pleasant Mountain and Sunday River. Dombkowski is survived by his widow, the former Thelma Lord, 3 daughters, Ellen, Sharon, Manya, and a son Eric.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.