PORTLAND, Maine — The weapons perhaps most familiar to Maine high school football fans were devastating enough as Wells High School pursued its second straight state championship Saturday.
But it was some additional weaponry — namely quarterback Michael Wrigley and a tight-covering defensive secondary — that put the Warriors over the top as they overwhelmed Foxcroft Academy 48-0 in the Class D final at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
The victory capped off an undefeated season for coach Tim Roche’s club, 12-0 this year and now winners of 16 in a row overall dating back to the 2016 season when Wells captured the Class C state championship.
“That’s a very good high school football team,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White, “one of the best I’ve witnessed or coached against.”
Senior fullback Nolan Potter rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries while backfield mate Tyler Bridge added 103 yards on 10 attempts for the Warriors. But Wrigley complemented Wells’ two 1,000-yard rushers with five carries for 69 yards and three touchdowns along with completing 3 of 5 passes for 54 yards and another score.
“We traditionally have held off on (having the quarterback run) during the season because we don’t want to get him hurt, and then we turn him loose later on to get him going,” said Roche. “That’s just what we do and thank God it worked out.”
Wells, which graduated 19 seniors from its 2016 team, finished with 416 total yards, 362 on the ground.
“I wouldn’t want to have to defend us,” said Roche. “Honestly I wouldn’t. We’ve got one of the best defenses, too, but I wouldn’t want to defend us and what we have because we have a lot of threats.”
Wells’ secondary, which included Wrigley, Bridge and Christian Saulnier, refused to let Foxcroft rally through the air, holding the Ponies to a 7-of-27 passing effort good for 72 yards with three interceptions.
That effort was facilitated by a defensive front featuring junior Morgan Welch-Thompson along the line of scrimmage and Potter and Sean McCormick-Kuhman at linebacker that limited Foxcroft to 21 rushing yards.
“We knew we had to take chances down the field and try to get points that way, but their front is so aggressive and strong and get to the quarterback so that he doesn’t have a whole lot of time,” said White, whose North regional champions finished their season with an 8-3 record.
“The guys in the secondary can play a bit softer and run with people down the field so when the ball is in the air and there’s a play to be made they’re right there to get their hands on it.”
Foxcroft’s defense produced three-and-outs on Wells’ first two possessions of the game but the Warriors quickly adjusted with dramatic results — marching 81 yards in just three plays to take a 7-0 lead when Potter followed a 27-yard keeper by Wrigley with runs of 24 yards and then 30 yards to the end zone with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.
A blocked punt by Wells was followed immediately by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Wrigley to Bridge for the Warriors’ second score within 70 seconds and a 14-0 lead with 2:32 left in the period.
Wrigley scored on a 5-yard keeper around right end on the first play of the second quarter to make it 21-0.
Foxcroft then had its best offensive series of the day, marching from its 34 to the Wells 4 behind a 30-yard completion from quarterback Nick Clawson to Hyatt Smith before a holding penalty led to a pass interception by Saulnier that gave the Warriors the ball at the Foxcroft 16.
Wells then drove 84 yards in 13 plays, with Wrigley scoring again on a 6-yard run to extend the lead to 28-0 with 3:23 left in the first half.
Wells got the ball back after a three-and-out by Foxcroft with time enough left before intermission to drive 75 yards in five plays. The march began with a 32-yard run by Bridge and concluded with Wrigley’s third rushing touchdown of the half, this time from 19 yards out to give Wells a 34-0 lead.
Wells drove 56 yards after Chad Fitzpatrick’s 36-yard return of the second-half kickoff, with Potter scoring from 15 yards out to make it 41-0.
A Potter interception led to the game’s final touchdown, a 1-yard run by Fitzpatrick with 4:24 left in the third period.
“We just played well,” said Roche. “We came out here on the big stage and played well.”