Perhaps this space — and the predictions that follow — should be turned over to colleague Pete Warner, he of the record eighth Bangor Daily News Football Forecast championship secured recently.
But since he’s preoccupied by the University of Maine football team’s bid for a NCAA playoff berth and his own quest for a ticket to the Big Buck Club, I’ll give Saturday’s high school football state finals a shot.
The Class B final between Morse of Bath and Mountain Valley of Rumford kicks off the tripleheader at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Mountain Valley gets most of the hype, and deservedly so, given its two state championships in the last four years and its domination of the Western B ranks.
But Morse, seeking its first state title since 1972, shouldn’t be underestimated. First, the Shipbuilders have survived a gantlet of top-quality opponents in a Pine Tree Conference Class B division that was much deeper than its Western Maine counterpart.
And not only has Morse survived, it has won its last eight games after an 0-2 start and has yielded just one touchdown in its last 22 quarters.
The Shipbuilders have the size to compete physically against Mountain Valley, but the Falcons have a superior 1-2 punch in Justin Staires and Matt Laubauskas. Both were banged up in the Western B final but should be healthy enough to return the Falcons to the top of the Class B heap:
Prediction: Mountain Valley 21, Morse 7
The Class C final between John Bapst of Bangor and Winthrop should be the most entertaining game of the day.
Each team lost in its regional final a year ago but returned a veteran nucleus determined to turn that disappointment into a championship dream come true.
Unbeaten Winthrop features a punishing running game as well as a capable passing attack, along with a defense that has shut out seven of its 11 opponents — outscoring Western C playoff foes Livermore Falls and Lisbon by a combined 78-0.
John Bapst, which last claimed a share of a state championship in 1976, features a multifaced offense directed by senior quarterback Derek Smith. The Crusaders are a blend of power and finesse, passing and rushing, with plenty of big-play potential behind a big, talented line.
And while Bapst can’t match Winthrop’s gaudy defensive statistics, the Crusaders have built a 10-game winning streak — since suffering their only loss in overtime to start the season — against an LTC regular-season schedule that arguably was more difficult than the Ramblers’ route to this contest.
Prediction: John Bapst 28, Winthrop 27
The Class A matchup features a virtual regular at the proceedings in Bonny Eagle of Standish against a Skowhegan team back after a 19-year hiatus from state championship contests.
Bonny Eagle is after its fourth title in the last five years thanks to an aggressive defense and a state-of-the-game spread offense choreographed by arguably the state’s top player in senior quarterback Nate Doehler.
Skowhegan counters with its own aggressive defense and the tightly knit and deceptive double wing offense.
The Indians’ ability to pull off the upset against favored Bonny Eagle will be predicated on a couple of factors, not allowing big plays on defense and controlling the clock on offense with running backs Billy Clark and Cody Vigue.
Prediction: Bonny Eagle 35, Skowhegan 20