PORTLAND — But for an injury to a teammate late this season, Donald Goodrich might never have gotten the chance to become a featured offensive weapon for the Cheverus High School football team this season.
But the junior running back has made the most of his opportunity.
Goodrich rushed for 149 yards and scored five touchdowns — one on a 92-yard kickoff return — as the undefeated Stags rolled past Lawrence of Fairfield 49-7 at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday to win their second straight Class A state championship.
Goodrich became the starting tailback for coach John Wolfgram’s club only after senior Spencer Cooke — who rushed for 252 yards and four touchdowns in Cheverus’ victory over Bangor in last year’s state final — was sidelined by a broken leg bone during the Stags’ regular-season victory over Deering of Portland.
While Cooke was able to return to action in a reserve role during the state championship game, it was long after Goodrich and Brent Green had combined for 332 rushing yards in a little more than three quarters of work in helping Cheverus amass the most points by a winning team in a Class A state final since the Stags defeated Lewiston 65-13 in 1985.
“It wasn’t so much taking advantage of the opportunity, it was me stepping up for my team,” said Goodrich. “The team needed me out there and I was able to go out and work hard for them.
“I felt real, real bad that Cooke wasn’t able to play in the postseason, I was real happy he was able to play today.”
Goodrich scored his rushing touchdowns on runs of 5, 1, 1 and 52 yards, while Green finished with a game-high 183 rushing yards — including 107 tackle-breaking yards in the third-quarter alone — and two touchdowns on 20 carries running behind a line anchored by senior tackle Christian Deschenes and senior guard Michael Dedian.
“With Spencer gone we were kind of running back by committee, and the committee was an outstanding committee,” said Wolfgram, who won his 10th state title as a head coach.
Senior quarterback Cam Olson added to Cheverus’ 512 yards of total offense by completing 4 of 5 first-half passes for 126 yards, all to senior wideout Louis DiStasio.
Lawrence (11-1) finished with five turnovers, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries — with one of each in the first 7½ minutes of the game.
“We wanted to mix in run and pass so we could help our run game,” said Lawrence coach John Hersom. “We knew they’d be pretty strong against the run up front, so we wanted to work in the pass, but it just didn’t work out for us today.”
Lawrence managed just 175 yards of total offense, with senior tailback Shaun Carroll Jr. — the leading rusher in Eastern A this spring — limited to 41 yards on 12 attempts.
And if Lawrence’s early turnovers weren’t enough fuel for Cheverus, the Stags were nearly unstoppable on offense, rolling up 286 yards in total yardage before intermission in building a 28-7 lead.
Olson recovered a Luke Lawrence fumble near midfield on Lawrence’s first possession of the game, and Cheverus marched 51 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on Green’s 1-yard dive into the end zone with 6:22 left in the opening quarter.
Liam Fitzpatrick then intercepted a third-down pass into the left flat by Lawrence quarterback Alex Leathers on the Bulldogs’ next possession. While Fitzpatrick’s 65-yard return for a touchdown was wiped out by an illegal block penalty, Cheverus required just three plays to march 71 yards to extend its lead to 14-0 with 3:28 to play in the period.
“That was huge for us,” said Goodrich. “We knew they were coming out and working hard and they were really sticking us in the beginning, but it was key to be able to pick up the momentum with those two drives.”
Olson passed deep over the middle to DiStasio for a 46-yard gain to the Lawrence 30, then Green went up the middle for a 25-yard gain before Goodrich scored on a 5-yard run.
Another 46-yard pass connection from Olson to the 6-foot-4 DiStasio on the final play of the first quarter kicked off a seven-play, 81-yard march that pushed the Stags’ lead to 21-0 on a 1-yard run by Goodrich with 9:20 left in the first half.
Lawrence finally answered two minutes later with a 52-yard touchdown run by Anthony Sementelli, but that momentum lasted all of 15 seconds — or as long as it took Goodrich to return the subsequent kickoff up the middle 92 yards for a touchdown to push the Cheverus advantage to 28-7 with 6:58 left before intermission.
“Our wedge did a great job, they made some key blocks and I picked up a nice seam to run through,” said Goodrich.
Cheverus then took the second-half kickoff and immediately marched 65 yards in just six plays, with Green beginning the possession with a 36-yard gain and Goodrich capping it off with a 1-yard scoring run.
Carroll was stripped of the ball by Green on Lawrence’s next play from scrimmage and Ryan Michael Casale recovered at the Bulldogs’ 25.
Green then ran for 16 yards on first down, and scored from the 1 four plays later to give Cheverus a 42-7 cushion with 6:45 left in the third period.
Lawrence then drove to the Cheverus 10 before Olson intercepted a Leathers pass at the goal line, setting up an 86-yard march that featured Goodrich’s 52-yard touchdown run with 1:14 left in the period.