The Brewer High School football team is like other around the state when it comes to its return to the gridiron this season after being limited to non-tackle versions of the sport last fall.
“There’s been an attitude and atmosphere of complete excitement,” said Scott Flagg, a 1993 BHS alumnus who guided the team through flag football scrimmages last fall after the traditional season was canceled due to COVID-19.
“Everybody’s glad to be back out playing tackle football. The kids worked so hard back during the 7-on-7 season and through the summer. There’s just a real sense of, ‘Are we going to be able to do this?’ excitement.”
Brewer has qualified for postseason play in each of the last six seasons of tackle football, reaching the Class B North championship game in 2015 and 2016 and advancing to the regional semifinals in 2018.
Four of those six playoff appearances by the Witches have ended in losses to Brunswick, including in the 2019 quarterfinals.
The Dragons have won five Northern Maine titles and the 2016 state championship during that span, and figure to be among the favorites in Class B North again this year along with Windham, Cony of Augusta, Skowhegan and Lawrence of Fairfield, a regional finalist in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“I think [the division] is very competitive from what I know,” Flagg said. “There’s just a lot of teams with a lot of tradition and I’ve been hearing positive things about [them].”
Brewer hopes to build on its 2-6 regular-season record from two years ago with a 48-player roster that features 27 seniors and juniors.
The Witches are coming off a 28-0 preseason victory at Hampden Academy that focused on developing its rushing attack, and the Witches amassed 217 yards on 51 carries.
“We’re trying to take advantage of the athletes that we have and do different things, but we approached that scrimmage with a certain intention that we wanted to establish a running game,” said Flagg, whose team opens its regular season Friday night against Class A Bangor before starting Class B play at Brunswick on Sept. 10.
Brewer’s offense is directed by junior Ryder Goodwin, a first-year starter at quarterback whom Flagg said took advantage of last fall’s pass-oriented 7-on-7 games after missing his freshman season with an injury.
“That was a nice scenario for him,” Flagg said. “Obviously we would have rather played tackle football but the fact that it was a 7-on-7 passing year was very beneficial to his development.”
Junior running back Cameron Hughes will pace the Witches’ ground game while junior flanker Evan Nadeau and senior tight end Caleb Thibodeau head up the receiving corps in front of a line led by senior guard Caleb Seymour and senior tackle Stephen Cummings.
Junior Rowan Valley, a newcomer to the team, has emerged as the Witches’ kicker as well as a backup to Hughes at running back.
Seymour and Cummings also will key Brewer’s defensive line, with Thibodeau at linebacker and senior safety Logan Levensalor among other key defenders.
“We’re very happy with the roster,” Flagg said. “We also have a lot of athletes out that hadn’t played in a while, too, and I think a little bit of that goes back to the realization the kids have that nothing’s really promised for the next day anymore so they want to take advantage and get out there and play.”