2017 fall season previews

August 26, 2017


Why look around the state for all the previews when you can come here? We've got all the stories and reviews going into the 2017 fall season. Learn about the 78 schools around Maine that will be competing on the gridiron from Kittery to Houlton, Fryeburg to Machias, and everywhere in between!

WMTW
Segment 1, Segment 2, Segment 3

Big Jab
Segment 1, Segment 2

Seacoast Online
MarshwoodNobleTraip AcademyYork

Journal Tribune
Biddeford, Kennebunk, MassabesicOld Orchard Beach, Sanford, Thornton Academy, Wells

The Forecaster
Cape ElizabethCheverusDeeringFalmouthFreeportGreelyPortlandScarboroughSouth PortlandYarmouth

Times Record
Brunswick, Freeport, Morse, Lisbon, Mt. Ararat

Sun Journal
Dirigo, Edward Little, Gray-New Gloucester, Leavitt, Lewiston, Lisbon, Mountain Valley, Mt. Blue, Oak Hill, Oxford Hills, Poland, Telstar, Winthrop/Monmouth

Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel
Class B, Class C, Class D/E

Eastern Maine Sports

The 2017 Maine High School Football review

*****A LOOK BACK ON 2016*****
After a 2015 where defending champions repeated in all four classes, no defending champion made it to state in 2016. Two teams ended a combined 93 year football championship drought, one team made their first ever state football championship, and one game ended in a way that will be talked about for years to come.

On a muggy July 16th, 2016 at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford, the twenty-seventh Lobster Bowl Classic featured a record-breaking 110 combined points as the East defeated the West 58-52. This easily surpassed the previous record of 75 points, which was set in 2010. Eastern MVP Andre Miller of Old Town caught seven passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns. The Western MVP, Zach Doyon of Marshwood, ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns while also catching six passes with one reception touchdown and a 36-yard halfback pass.

In Class A, the Portland Bulldogs went undefeated against their Northern conference rivals as they earned their second trip to their home grounds of Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state championship. In the Southern conference, Bonny Eagle went undefeated and earned a trip to the state championship. During the Saturday morning championship game, Bonny Eagle pulled away in the second half with a 34-14 victory for their sixth football state championship.

In Class B, the Brunswick Dragons were just as dominating as they were in the prior two seasons as they punched their third straight state title game ticket with a trip to Orono on the strength of an unblemished 10-0 conference run. Meanwhile in the South it was a surprising Kennebunk that ran the table and returned to Orono as the Southern regional champ. During the Friday night final, the Dragons won the battles that needed to be won in a 28-6 victory. The win gave them their first football title since 1963.

In Class C, three teams went 7-1 from the North. But it was the team that nobody expected, a 7-1 Mount Desert Island Trojans team that kept the ball out of their opponents’ hands that earned them their first ever trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium. The South was really a two-horse race between Cape Elizabeth and Wells. And while the Capers won the regular season battle, the Warriors took the regional final and earned their first trip to Fitzpatrick since 2011. Unfortunately the first time trip wasn’t kind for the team from Bar Harbor as Wells shut out the Trojans 44-0, giving the Warriors their third football state championship title.

In Class D, the Maine Central Institute Huskies swept through the North for a third consecutive undefeated season en route to a third consecutive trip to the championship game. In the South, Winthrop/Monmouth went undefeated and a trip to Portland all but looked to be an eventuality. But a touchdown with 16 seconds left in the game wasn’t enough for the Ramblers as the Lisbon Greyhounds went 56 yards on two plays to pull off the improbably win in Winthrop and earn their first trip to Portland since 2006. Fortune seemed to favor Lisbon for much of the Class D championship, but Maine Central Institute came back in the second half. Near the end of the game with the game tied 14-14, Maine Central Institute drove 57 yards with 40 seconds. With seconds, a light drizzle in the air, and the ball at the Lisbon 20 yard line, the most unexpected of events happened…

https://www.facebook.com/MaineHighSchoolFootball/videos/1275849692488216/
https://www.facebook.com/DJohnson51/videos/10154403534573283/

The state bid farewell to two sideline legends as Jim Aylward and Dick Mynahan announced their retirements. With Mountain Valley, Jim’s Falcons teams appeared in 17 regional finals, eight state championship games, and lifted the Gold Ball in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010. Dick’s 30-year tenure with Lisbon saw his Greyhounds win 205 games with five state championship appearances and Gold Ball titles in 1997, 2005, and 2006. Both coaches are renowned across the state by former and current players, coaches, administrators, family, friends, and the communities they were in.

In the post-season, Thornton Academy’s Michael Laverriere was named the 46th recipient of the James J. Fitzpatrick trophy as the top senior football student-athlete in Maine. He was also named the Gatorade Maine Football Player of the Year, becoming the twelfth person to win both awards. In the Frank J. Gaziano Lineman Awards, Thornton Academy’s Nick Bartholomew was awarded the Offensive Lineman Award while Brewer’s Austin Lufkin was awarded the Defensive Lineman Award.


*****TEAMS WITH NEW COACHES*****
Jeremy Marks, Camden Hills
Duane Greaton, Gray-New Gloucester
Shane Rogers, Hampden Academy
Kyle Gallant, Hermon
Chris Kates, Lisbon
Walter Polkey, Maranacook
Rick Leary, Mount View
Nate Quirion, Mt. Blue
Kelly Smith, Noble
Jake Rogers, Nokomis
Ryan Libby, Skowhegan
David Frey, Spruce Mountain
Cody Herring, Stearns
Timothy O'Connor, Telstar
Ed McDonough, Traip Academy

*****2017 ACTIVE STREAKS*****
Active winning streaks
Maine Central Institute - 12 wins (last loss was 11/20/2015)
Bonny Eagle - 11 wins (last loss was 11/14/2015)
Brunswick - 11 wins (last loss was 11/21/2015)
Wells - 4 wins (last loss was 10/21/2016)

Five longest winning streaks in Maine high school football history*
48 - Orono, 1977-1982
45 - Marshwood, 1983-1987
34 - Cheverus, 2010-2012
32 - Winslow, 1992-1994
31 - South Portland, 1995-1997

Active losing streaks
Sacopee Valley - 40 losses (winless in varsity program history)
Camden Hills - 21 losses (last win was 9/20/2013)
Gorham - 17 losses (last win was 10/17/2014)
Nokomis - 16 losses (last win was 10/25/2014)
Gray-New Gloucester - 11 losses (last win was 10/2/2015)
Washington Academy - 11 losses (last win was 10/9/2015 via forfeit, last actual win was 9/25/2015)
Maranacook - 9 losses (last win was 10/10/2015)
Massabesic - 9 losses (last win was 10/16/2015)
Waterville - 9 losses (last win was 10/17/2015)
Bangor - 9 losses (last win was 10/23/2015)
Telstar - 8 losses (last win was 10/11/2014 via forfeit, last actual win was 10/25/2013)

Five longest losing streaks in Maine high school football history*
51 - Traip Academy, 2000-2006
41 - John Bapst, 1998-2003
40 - Sacopee Valley, 2009-2013
32 - Marshwood, 1998-2002
32 - Hampden Academy, 1987-1991
29 - Mt. Ararat, 2009-2013

* - we spent a long night in 2016 searching through Google archived images from the Seacoast Online, Portland Press Herald, Sun Journal, and the Bangor Daily News to compile these lists. We acknowledge there could be a winning streak or losing streak that should be on this list that we did not locate. We welcome you to share the details of it.


*****MAINE AT 78 TEAMS*****
When Class E was given the green light, we welcomed four schools back to the varsity ranks that had previously dropped down to the junior varsity or “club” ranks to rebuild their program; Boothbay, Camden Hills, Sacopee Valley, and Telstar. This season Maine have the most football teams competing at the varsity level in the state’s history.


*****COOPERATIVES*****
In the off-season, a big discussion point was revamping the MPA rule regarding cooperatives and enrollment. At the time, the rule was that in a cooperative the combined enrollment from both schools was considered the official number regarding Class placement. For the past few years only a few schools engaged in a cooperative. In April, the MPA agreed to revamp the rules. Starting with the primary school, each team added to contribute to the enrollment based on the number of players on the team and the other school’s size. For instance, if school A has an enrollment of 500 and has 30 players, and they gain 10 players from school B with an enrollment of 300, 25% of the other school’s enrollment would count towards the overall number (40 overall players, 10 coming from school B). In this instance that would give the School A an adjusted enrollment number of 575. In 2017, Maine will see 17 schools involved in 8 cooperative programs.

Unless it is a recognized part of the team name, we will be using the primary school to identify the program.


*****GAMES OUT OF CONFERENCE*****
Years ago, playing an out-of-conference game was considered a reality in the old Class B and Class C where each conference had only 9 teams and they played nine games to prevent a bye week. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that the first out-of-class games were held between Class B Gorham and Class C Fryeburg Academy, and Class B Leavitt and Class C Spruce Mountain.

In hopes of trying to create more competitive games within the structured alignment set by the MPA and the Football Committee, every Class A, B, C, and D team was required to schedule one home game and one away game out of conference. This could be against a Northern or Southern rival. Also, this could be against an opponent playing a class above or a class below them. And admittedly, we’ve seen a share of equitable match-ups that normally wouldn’t happen outside of the pre-season or the state championship.

Some cross class rivalries were kept intact, such as Cony and Gardiner or John Bapst and Orono. Other games that have traditionally been at the end of the season were not kept that way; Massabesic vs Sanford, Brewer vs Hampden Academy, Waterville vs Winslow, and Poland vs Gray-New Gloucester were noticeably absent on the final week of the regular season.

However, the quest for balanced out-of-conference match-ups did create a few puzzling meetings. On September 9th, Traip Academy of Kittery will play a 3 pm Saturday afternoon game against Washington Academy of East Machias. Those making the trip will get plenty of mileage as their trek is between 251 to 264 miles, depending on the route taken. How does this stack up against past trips? When Houlton hosted Camden Hills in 2015, the Windjammers logged 190 miles.


*****SCHEDULE CHANGES*****
It is our customary practice to begin the process of schedule confirmations on the first of May. Sometimes this doesn’t require much guesswork and legwork. Which can be the case when schedules flip only between home and away assignments. Other times this can be quite extensive, which was the case this year. More so because teams are playing two of their eight games out of conference.

A matrix was made available in May for Southern Class B, C, and D, and Class E, followed by Northern Class B and D, and later by Northern Class C. However, in June there was an issue discovered in these matrices. Oak Hill and Oceanside were double-scheduled during the fourth and fifth week. Meanwhile, Telstar had a week four bye and Maranacook had a week five bye. Oak Hill and Oceanside were found to be (fairly) easy to resolve. However, rescheduling Telstar and Maranacook caused some headaches. Their bye weeks meant that either another team would need to take a bye week in order to even out the schedule or those two schools would need to schedule a game. Although wholesale changes were not needed, several teams in Northern and Southern Class D and Class E schedule ended up having their schedules reworked.


*****DOMINANCE OF MAINE CENTRAL INSTITUTE*****
Occasionally a team comes along that is more than a one-season dominator. Sometimes a special team, a dynasty if you will, happens upon us. Rare is the team like a Cheverus, who won the most consecutive games in fifteen years as they strung together a 32-game winning streak. We’d like to bring up another streak, runs of conference dominance.

Since 2004, nine teams have won 20 or more consecutive games within their conference.

20; Mountain Valley, 2004-2005
20; Mountain Valley, 2007-2009
21; Lisbon, 2005-2007
22; Yarmouth, 2010-2011
22; Winslow, 2013-2015
23 Lawrence, 2011-2013
30; Lawrence, 2006-2008
32; Foxcroft Academy, 2005-2007
32; Cheverus, 2010-2012

During their runs, these seven teams went to state a combined 19 times and won 12 championships.

Yet one team’s record of regional domination is heads and shoulders above the rest. From 2009 to 2012 the Leavitt Hornets rolled over their regional opponents for a total of 38 consecutive regional wins. In that streak they went to the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Class B state championship and won a Gold Ball over Cape Elizabeth in 2009. That’s 1,449 days between conference losses (November 8th, 2008 to October 26th, 2012).

We bring this up because one school is in the midst of their own special run. Since November 8th, 2013, Pittsfield’s Maine Central Institute has gone 1,389 days and 31 Northern Class D victories since their last conference loss. Three consecutive state championship games and a 2016 Gold Ball win against Lisbon.  They have the state’s longest active winning streak at 12 games.

In case your wondering, the Huskies would need to go 8-0 in the regular season and win their regional quarterfinal game in order to surpass Leavitt’s mark. That mark would be reached on October 29th.


*****STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS*****
Class C will have their state championship on Friday, November 17th at the University of Maine campus. The last Class C state championship in Orono was the 62-14 Winslow victory over Leavitt. That was the game where Dylan Hapworth ran for 236 yards and scored seven touchdowns. On Saturday, November 18th, Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland will host the Class A, B, and D state championship games.


*****WHAT TO EXPECT FROM US IN 2017*****
We at Maine High School Football will continue our efforts to help bring Maine High School Football to you and to help bring Maine High School Football to the world. In addition to the sharing of news and stories from around Maine and national media outlets during the regular season and playoffs, you can expect the following features from us;

- Every Friday and Saturday we’ll have a running posting of scores and updates from the state. Once all games in a respective conference have gone final, we’ll update our Heal Points so you can know where everybody stands in the rankings.

- Every Sunday night we’ll post highlights, factoids, thoughts and opinions on the week that was with an eye towards the upcoming week’s action.

- Every Monday night we return a staff favorite as we gather our favorite quotes from around the state as part of the "He said it" segment.

- Every Tuesday night we will announce our selections for the Four Stars of the Week. We will gather the top performances from each of the four conferences from accredited media sources and then make our determinations for the star of the week and two honorable mentions. For the first time ever, we will be welcoming feedback and stats from coaches and administrators who feel their student-athletes may be deserving of consideration. Our hope is that this will help shine the spotlight on the exceptional athletes from parts of the state where there is little to no media focus.

- Every Wednesday night we will present the Maine Power Ranking Top Ten. This list is our objective look at the top teams in Maine. Rather than focus on a top ten that is opinion based, we have come up with a system to rank and select the teams that are clearly head and shoulders above their rest.

- For the first time in our history, we will be posting Hudl’s weekly highlight segments detailing the longest passes, longest runs, and big time touchdowns from around Maine.

*****Timeline for the remainder of the season*****
September 1st - Regular season games can begin after 3 pm
October 27th - Week nine / Regional quarterfinals
November 10th & November 11th - Regional finals
November 17th - Class C State Championships at University of Maine in Orono
November 18th - Class A, B, and D State Championships at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland
November 23rd - 106th Maine Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl