Trying to pick the winners of Saturday’s state championship high school football games is essentially an exercise in developing opinions without evidence.
For East does not meet West during the regular season in this sport, not even during preseason as is sometimes the case in basketball and baseball.
But there are some trends worth taking into consideration, or not.
In Class A, the West has won the state crown 25 of the last 27 years.
In Class B, the East has won in each of the last five odd-numbered years, while the West has won in each of the last four even-numbered years.
Streaks are the norm In Class C. The East won two in a row in 1998 and 1999, then the West won three straight. The last six years have seen three two-year win streaks, first East, then West, and most recently East with Foxcroft Academy in 2007 and John Bapst of Bangor in 2008.
So who will win this year?
Class A: Undefeated Bangor takes on once-beaten Windham. History suggests Windham, because of the West’s dominance in this division and the fact that this season’s Western Maine Class A playoff field was one of the most balanced in recent years.
But perhaps that just means that there was no super team in the West this year like the Bonny Eagle of Standish program that was the two-time defending champion and winner of the big trophy four times in the last five years.
Windham is unlikely to shut down a Bangor offense led by 2,000-yard rusher Lonnie Hackett and a 1,200-yard passer in Joe Seccareccia. Bangor also has the size and experience advantage on the line of scrimmage, and the Rams’ line play has come to the forefront during their postseason run to the Eastern Maine title.
The big question for Bangor is whether its defense can contain a potent and balanced Windham attack featuring quarterback Jackson Taylor and running back Jack Mallis.
The pick: Bangor 28, Windham 21.
Class B: Leavitt of Turner Center dominated the Eastern Maine field this year, being tested only in its season opener against Hampden Academy and in a 13-0 win over Gardiner in the regional final.
But something tells me this is Cape Elizabeth’s time. After playing the role of bridesmaid to Mountain Valley for the last three years, the Capers finally broke through this fall thanks to some big-time playmakers of their own in quarterback Ezra Wolfinger, running back Tom Foden and wideout Finn Melanson.
I don’t think they’re done yet.
The pick: Cape Elizabeth 27, Leavitt 21.
Class C: Like the Class A game, this clash between Foxcroft Academy and Dirigo of Dixfield matches teams with several similarities.
Both clubs have quality quarterbacks in Foxcroft’s Ryan Stroud and Dirigo’s Nic Crutchfield, star running backs in the Ponies’ Ian Champeon and the Cougars’ Spencer Ross and plenty of other playmakers working behind aggressive front lines.
Foxcroft, seeking its second state title in three years and third in the last seven years, has the edge in tradition against a Dirigo program whose last state title came in Class D in 1975. The Cougars’ program didn’t even exist for a decade after the sport was dropped in 1990.
The sense here is that the winner of the turnover battle wins the gold.
The pick: Foxcroft 24, Dirigo 21.
Good luck to all.