The Yarmouth High School football team is known for its on-field speed and quickness, which perhaps is fitting given how quickly the Clippers have established themselves among elite Class C programs statewide.
The Clippers played the first varsity game in school history in September 2007 and went on to lose 19 of their first 20 contests over their first two-plus seasons.
But a win in Week 3 of the 2009 season marked the start of Yarmouth’s run of 31 victories in its last 32 games, with the only defeat coming against Dirigo of Dixfield in the 2009 Western Maine Class C championship game.
Yarmouth is riding a 23-game winning streak since that loss and the Clippers will try to win their second straight Class C state crown when they face Eastern Maine champion Bucksport in a battle of unbeatens scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
The Clippers hope the experience of playing in last year’s state final — when they defeated Stearns of Millinocket 34-6 — will be beneficial against a Bucksport program playing for the gold ball for the first time since 2004.
“These kids have been through it, they understand everything that’s involved with playing in the big stadium in front of the big crowd,” said fifth-year Yarmouth coach Jim Hartman. “They know what they have to do.”
The Bucksport-Yarmouth clash is the middle game of a state championship tripleheader that begins at 11 a.m. when Lawrence of Fairfield faces defending champion Cheverus of Portland for the Class A title. The third game, slated for 6 p.m., matches Leavitt of Turner Center against Wells for the Class B crown.
Yarmouth brings a veteran team into its return to the state final, with seven starters on both offense and defense back from a year ago.
That led to a dominant season for the 11-0 Clippers, who have outscored their opposition 424-56, including 96-6 in postseason victories over Oak Hill of Wales (44-6), Lisbon (38-0) and Traip Academy of Kittery (14-0).
“It’s just made us stronger,” said Hartman of his team’s veteran presence. “We’re able to do more things this year, and we’re able to make adjustments quicker. The kids can make adjustments on their own.”
What Yarmouth does most effectively is run the football. The Clippers have amassed 4,402 rushing yards this season, or 400 yards per game, with senior Anders Overhaug (1,610 rushing yards, 23 TDs) leading the way along with junior Caleb Uhl (1,073 yards, 13 TDs) behind fullback Matt Woodbury.
What’s even more impressive than those raw numbers is the average per carry — 16.4 yards for Overhaug, 11.2 for Uhl.
“We look to set up the big play,” Hartman said.
Sophomore Brady Newjahr is a second-year starter at quarterback for the Clippers who throws eight or nine times per game, according to his coach.
“He’s improved this year,” said Hartman. “He’s a very good quarterback, but he’s still learning.”
The offense is fronted by a quick line featuring senior guard Ben Weinrich, son of former University of Maine and NHL defenseman Eric Weinrich.
“He’s probably as quick as most teams’ backs,” said Hartman.
Weinrich also is a defensive catalyst at nose guard along with Woodbury at linebacker and Overhaug at safety.
Like Yarmouth, CHEVERUS brings a 23-game winning streak into the Class A state final.
Coach John Wolfgram’s club is considerably different from the 2010 team that surged in the second half to defeat Bangor 46-8 in the state final, particularly at the skill positions.
Last year’s Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, quarterback-safety Peter Gwilym, is now attending Ohio State and has been replaced by 6-foot-3 senior Cam Olson. Olson, injured for most of last season, has passed for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 271 yards while totaling a team-leading six interceptions on defense.
Senior tailback Spencer Cooke, who rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s state game, surpassed 1,000 yards this season before suffering a broken bone in his right leg late in the regular season. Cooke has been replaced by junior Donald Goodrich, a transfer from York who rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Stags’ 21-10 win over Thornton Academy of Saco in Saturday’s Western A final.
Junior Brent Green, who also didn’t factor into last year’s state final, has been another effective runner for the Stags.
Among the key returning players for 11-0 Cheverus is 6-foot-4 senior wideout Louie DiStasio, the team’s leading receiver as well as a top placekicker.
WELLS battled its way to its first Class B state final since 1997 behind a stout defense that has yielded just 6.6 points per game — highlighted by a 10-0 shutout of defending state champion Mountain Valley of Rumford in the Western Maine final.
That defense is led by senior linebacker Louis DiTomasso, defensive end Josh Ingalls and defensive back Joey Spinelli, who had two of the Warriors’ three interceptions in the WM final.
DiTomasso, with 872 yards and 15 touchdowns, also is the leading rusher for Wells, joined in the backfield by senior Doug McLean (72 carries, 416 yards, 5 TDs) behind veteran quarterback Paul McDonough.