PORTLAND, Maine — Seventy-six varsity football teams from Millinocket to Kittery have been pared to six survivors that will battle for state titles in Classes A, B and C during the 11th annual Super Saturday tripleheader at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The games begin at 11:06 a.m. with the Class A showdown between 11-0 Lawrence of Fairfield against 10-1 Thornton Academy of Saco, followed at 2:36 p.m. by the Class C battle between 10-1 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft and 10-1 Winslow.
The final contest, scheduled for 6:06 p.m., pits 11-0 Mt. Blue of Farmington against 10-1 Marshwood of South Berwick for the Class B crown.
In Class A, Lawrence returns the bulk of its team from the 2011 edition that absorbed a humbling 49-7 loss to Cheverus of Portland in the state final.
“We all had to live with that embarrassment,” said Bulldogs’ senior Josh Doolan after Lawrence rallied past Cony of Augusta 20-10 in last week’s Eastern Maine championship game. “We worked hard in the offseason, but we always played the game in front of us. We never looked ahead.”
Lawrence is the last Eastern Maine team to win the Class A state title, but that was in 2006.
Doolan, who teams with Anthony Sementelli to lead the Bulldogs’ rushing attack behind senior quarterback Spencer Carey, believes this year’s squad is well prepared for its gold ball challenge because of a testing late-season schedule.
“We were fortunate because we played all playoff teams at the end [of the regular season]. I’m thankful … that happened,” said Doolan, speaking of the Bulldogs’ final three games against Cony, Brunswick and Messalonskee of Oakland and playoff wins over Messalonskee and Cony — three rivals that finished their seasons with a combined 21-10 record.
Thornton Academy is playing in its first state final since defeating Lawrence 47-13 in 1988.
Coach Kevin Kezal’s Trojans, a preseason favorite to win the Class A crown, avenged its only loss this fall by defeating two-time defending state champion Cheverus of Portland 20-13 in the Western Maine final. Thornton also fell to Cheverus 21-10 in last year’s WM title game.
This contest matches the state’s largest Class A school in Thornton Academy, with an enrollment of 1,384 as of April 1, against the smallest in Lawrence, with just 712 students.
The Class C game marks the first meeting between Foxcroft and Winslow since Sept. 13, 2002, when both teams were members of the LTC and Foxcroft earned a 12-6 victory to end the Black Raiders’ 24-game winning streak, a run that included Class B state championships in 2000 and 2001.
Foxcroft’s offense is averaging 46.7 points per game this fall after a 33-7 win over John Bapst of Bangor in the Eastern Maine final that advanced the Ponies to their first state title game since 2009.
Senior halfback Don Boyer (1,102 rushing yards), senior wide receiver Ryan Rebar and junior quarterback Hunter Law are among the Ponies’ main offensive threats.
“They’ve got a number of people who can score, good size, good skill-position people, good special teams, a lot sticks out about Foxcroft,” said Winslow coach Mike Siviski. “With a lot of the teams we’ve played we could key on a couple of people, but they have so many different people that can burn you. They can throw and run. They have a solid team, they’re not where they are for nothing.”
Winslow, relocated from Eastern Maine to the West for the past two years, secured its first regional title since 2006 with a 17-6 victory over Dirigo of Dixfield.
“They’ve got good team size and are very physical. That’s something that’s unmeasurable on film, but we’re going to have to be as well prepared for it as we can to be able to match the level of intensity they’re going to bring,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White. “They like to put pressure on you.”
One key matchup will pit Winslow’s rushing attack against Foxcroft’s defense. Winslow’s running back trio of senior Joseph Hopkins, sophomore Dylan Hapworth and junior fullback Zach Guptill has rushed for 3,023 yards and 41 touchdowns this fall, while Foxcroft’s first-team defense has yielded just one rushing touchdown in 11 games.
“Those kids are going to look to run hard,” said White, “and they’re not going to look to run around you, they’re going to try to run over you so we’re going to have to be able to gang tackle and be tough.”
The Class B game matches a diversified Mt. Blue football team against a rejuvenated Marshwood program under a new coach.
Mt. Blue, making its first state final appearance since playing in Class A in 2005, boasts the passing prowess of senior quarterback Jordan Whitney out of its spread formation but used a strong running game keyed by seniors Chad Luker and Calan Lucas to surge past Waterville 42-14 in the Eastern Maine final.
Marshwood, back in a state championship game for the first time since winning the Class A crown in 1989, has found success with the Wing-T formation under coach Alex Rotsko, who previously coached for 19 years at Longmeadow (Mass.) High School and was the head coach for 10 years before that at American International College in Springfield, Mass.
Marshwood, which has won previous state titles in Classes A, B, C and D, defeated York 21-20 in the Western Maine final behind junior quarterback Cameron Roll, who rushed for two touchdowns and passed for a third.
Sophomore running back Brett Gerry has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Hawks’ three postseason victories.