Editor’s note: This story inadvertently was not published to the BDN website on the night of the game, Nov. 15, 2019.
Top-ranked Bucksport captured its first Little Ten Conference football championship since 2013 on Friday night, pulling away from Dexter 46-8 at Hampden Academy.
Top-ranked Bucksport (9-0) plays Class D South winner Lisbon (7-3) for the state championship on Nov. 23 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Second-seeded Dexter ends its season at 8-2, with both losses coming against Bucksport.
Bucksport amassed 505 yards of total offense, 424 on the ground behind a punishing line that featured seniors David Gross, Dawson Eaton, juniors Gavin Billings, Owen Gaudreau and Julian Shook and senior tight end Cameron Soper.
They’re just so big and physical, and they do an excellent job at whatever they do,” Dexter coach Andrew Shorey said. “They just execute, and we couldn’t stop it.”
Freshman halfback Jaxon Gross — David’s brother — rushed for 255 yards on 35 carries, including 218 yards and three touchdowns on 25 first-half carries alone as Bucksport took an 18-0 lead into intermission after scoring twice in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
The Gross kid is just an unbelievable player but their entire line is very, very good,” Shorey said.
The Golden Bucks, who lost to Foxcroft Academy in the Class D North championship game each of the previous two years, drove 61 yards in nine plays after receiving the opening kickoff to take a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Gross with 7:20 left in the first quarter.
Gross rushed for 47 yards on seven carries during that drive.
Dexter soon stiffened defensively, with Logan Perkins at linebacker sparking an effort that slowed the relentless Golden Bucks’ offense — for a while.
Yet the Tigers struggled to take advantage offensively in part because of their five turnovers for the game, three in the first half.
Bucksport got the ball back after an exchange of fumbles at its 11-yard line midway through the second quarter and marched 89 yards in 14 plays to extend its lead to 12-0 on a 19-yard run by Gross with 1:57 left in the half.
Gross kept up a heavy workload on this scoring drive, rushing 11 times for 91 yards.
Bucksport sophomore safety Tyler Hallett intercepted a Perkins pass near midfield moments later, with his 20-yard return giving the Golden Bucks possession at the Dexter 31 with 59.8 seconds left until intermission.
Four more runs by Gross took Bucksport the distance, with the final run from 1 yard out extending the lead to 18-0 with 30.7 seconds left in the half.
“Dexter was really good,” David Gross said. “They came out physical and had a great game plan. We started slow, we started getting down a little bit but then we just turned it on.”
Bucksport recovered a Dexter fumble midway through the third quarter and scored five plays later on a 20-yard pass from Brady Findlay to Logan Stanley to make it 26-0 with 2:45 left in the period.
Dexter’s Cameron Paige got his team on the scoreboard on the next play after the kickoff, racing 58 yards for a touchdown. Perkins’ two-point conversion run made it 26-8.
A 51-yard run by Ty Giberson on Bucksport’s next series made it 32-8, and the Golden Bucks added two fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 48-yard option pass from Stanley to Hallett and a 3-yard run by Miller.
Miller finished with 13 carries for 100 yards while Giberson added 52 rushing yards for Bucksport
Paige paced Dexter with 12 rushes for 84 yards.