Thoughts on the Weekend - Week Twelve

November 19, 2017

Thoughts on the weekend

- There is quite a bit to digest from the four games this weekend. But we would like to send a giant thumbs up to the kids, the coaches, the administrators, cheerleaders, officials, boosters, and everyone else that put in their time during the 2017 fall football season. It takes a lot to make football work. You are part of a hard-working group here in Maine that put in both paid and volunteer work to make it all come together, week after week.

- Friday night was on the brisk side, in case that wasn’t obvious by the pictures. And we would like to think that the option of a broadcasted game was far more appealing to some than sitting outside in below freezing temperatures with a 5-10 mph wind. But this is mid-November Maine weather. This is something everyone should be expecting and prepared for. And with the extremely limited number of venues that have the capacity to handle the potential for large number of spectators, media, and television presence, the University of Maine will remain as a venue for state championship games.

- Cape Elizabeth wasn’t too far behind Maine Central Institute going into the half. It was 14-13 and Maine Central Institute looked like they were content to grind out the ball to halftime. But the Huskies were able to get themselves downfield and into the red zone with less than 30 seconds left and a fourth and goal in their face. That is where a bit of trickery came into play. Instead of the Huskies setting into a three-point stance, the entire team except for three linemen and Ryan Friend in the shotgun shifted left. The move was enough to pull a Cape Elizabeth lineman offside and advanced the ball five yards closer to goal. The Huskies then tried the exact same play at the snap, but this time Andrew Whitaker snuck out of the snap uncovered and to the right flats, where he easily corralled Ryan’s toss. After the point after try and a Cape play later, the Huskies went up 21-13.

- The difference maker in the second half was Huskies belief. And that is not taking anything away from Cape Elizabeth’s kids. MCI’s kids hit their runs with a vengeance and knew how to play the cold weather to their advantage. Meanwhile, Cape Elizabeth had some level of success but weren’t able to capitalize on their chances on the Huskies half of the field. With 2:03 left in the 3rd quarter, the Capers made it into the red zone but weren’t able to get through the Huskies defense and turned the ball over on downs instead of going for the field goal. On the Huskies second play, Pedro Matos took a handoff from the seven and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 93 yards away.

- It may take awhile for this playoff run to sink it in with the Huskies kids and coaching staff, but their win Friday was very special. No, seriously. A sixth-ranked team that won all three playoff games on the road against Nokomis (6-2), Winslow (7-1), and Mount Desert Island (7-1) before beating Cape Elizabeth (6-1) for the Class C state championship at a freezing University of Maine venue. If this hasn’t happened before, this was a historic culmination to an improbably playoff run. And you may go a long time before seeing something like this ever happening again.

- There were a few things that stood out during the Class A game. Scarborough’s offense didn’t have far to travel. In fact, only one or two of their drives began on yardage behind their own 35-yard line. Their first drive to begin in Red Storm territory didn’t happen until there was 47 seconds left in the first quarter. Scarborough’s defense kept Windham from crossing the middle of the field for the first 14:56 of the game.

- If you are looking for the hardest working player this weekend, our vote goes to Windham’s Tanner Bernier. There were very few offensive, defensive, and special teams plays that he wasn’t involved in. And the opportunities that the Eagles had to score, Tanner was involved in them.

- Scarborough scored an eye-boggling total of 540 points this season, which is the most scored by a Class A champion going back to 2004. That was also scored over 11 games, which equals an average of 49 points a game. Of the state champions in all classes going back to 2004, only the 2008 Mountain Valley Falcons (568 points in 12 games) and 2014 Marshwood Hawks (603 points in 12 games) have scored more points during their entire season. And as we noted, they achieved those numbers while playing the maximum of twelve games.

- After the first four drives in the Class D state championship, there was a possibility that the game could be as close as close could be. Both sides prevented the other from establishing a ground game, and both defenses looked as tough as could be. Things changed when a Nick Clawson pass was picked off by Wells’ Tyler Bridge on the Warriors 19 yard line. With that little bit of momentum, the vaunted Warriors running game run its way downfield in three plays before the punctuation of a Nolan Potter 30-yard scoring run. After the ensuing Foxcroft Academy goes three-and-out, the punt snap is a bad one and by the time Nick Clawson gets it punted, Wells blocks it. On the first play of the drive, quarterback Michael Wrigley finds running back Tyler Bridge, who goes the 21 yards to the end zone. 14 points in less than three minutes.

- By the end of the first half, Wells was up 34-0 and trying to get a final score at the half. Hyatt Smith would pick off Michael Wrigley’s throw over the middle to stop that attempt though. But the Warriors churned up a 3:28 drive to start the second half before Nolan Potter scored his second of the game from 15 yards out to put the Wells up 41-0 and begin running time. He’d then pick up an interception on the following Ponies drive. 2:12 later and Chad Fitzpatrick would finish the 21-yard Wells drive with the 48th and final point of the evening. The two sides would exchange punts the rest of the way.

- As dominant as Wells’ defense was this year (fewest points allowed in all of Maine), it is interesting to note that last years’ championship team allowed ten fewer points during the same amount of games.

- The Hawks got 14 early points, both on Tommy Springer throws. The first one, at 5:28, was the culmination of a quick-strike Hawks drive that started on their own 20 and ended with a 24-yard pass to Kyle Glidden. The next drive started when a Skowhegan receiver was stripped of the ball and Marshwood recovered on the Indians 33. Tommy sent a pass to Samuel Cartmill, who ran the rest of the way en route to a 33-yard score at 4:41.

- Skowhegan’s receiver and kick returner Jon Bell made Marshwood think twice about kicking his way after a 97-yard kickoff return on the Hawks kickoff following Samuel Cartmill’s touchdown catch and run. During the rest of the game the Hawks would either kick the ball low and hard into the second layer of blockers, at an angle towards the sidelines, or high and short. In most attempts, the ball would get pitched back to Jon for an attempt at a return.

- After the quick start, Marshwood took full advantage of an offense that was difficult to predict between their ground game and a few passes sprinkled in that kept Skowhegan guesses. Marshwood saw their lead increase to 35-14 at the half and 57-20 at the end of the third quarter.

- The Marshwood defense did a solid job of shutting down a Skowhegan run game that only had 55 total yards on the ground. With Marcus Christopher often utilizing four of five receiver sets, the Hawks linemen got five sacks, including four by junior lineman Ian Dures, and numerous hurries and pressures. The drizzling weather clearly made it difficult for some passes to be hauled in, which may have otherwise been catchable. Marcus finished the evening only throwing 14 completions on 30 passes.

- Legend is the term that we should begin to use when referring to Marshwood head coach Alex Rotsko. Between Longmeadow and Marshwood his teams win won 15 titles in 20 appearances with a record of 242 wins and 50 in his 25 years of coaching. And his system is not difficult, at least the offensive system. His Wing-T formation has gotten the most out of hundreds of kids, going back to 1992. And he’s done it with one of the most humble, unassuming manners you’ll find for a person of his caliber.

- Yes, we get it, blowouts were the order of the day on Saturday. So out of curiosity the question was how this championship weekend ranked with those of the past. When it came to averages and margins, we began in 1985 as this was the year that Maine held a unifying state championship for all classes.
: Scarborough recorded the second highest amount of points in a Class A state championship game (57), second to the 1985 Cheverus Stags (65)
: Scarborough recorded the highest margin of victory in a Class A state championship game (57)
: Marshwood scored the second highest amount of points in a state championship by a single team (63), second to the 1985 Cheverus Stages
: Marshwood scored the highest amount of points in a Class B state championship game (63)
: Wells recorded the fourth highest margin of victory in a state championship game by a single team (48)
: Despite the high scorings games, 2017 ranks fourth in terms of combined score per game behind 2013 (63), 2014 (62), and 2012 (62).
: 2017 featured the highest average points scored by the winning teams (49). Behind them is 2014 (45), 2013 (37), and 2011 (37)
: Despite the 2017 average score of the losing teams (8), they are nowhere close to the lowest average recorded in 1993 (0). In fact, nine years featured a lower average score by the losing teams
: 2017 featured the highest average margin of victory (41). The next highest year was 2014 (28), 2010 (28), 2016 (26), and 1993 (26)

- Scarborough became the final Southern Maine team in all of Class A to win a Class A championship.

- This was football title #19 for Marshwood, #4 for Maine Central Institute, and #4 for Wells.

- Maine Central Institute and Wells became the second and third team in Maine’s football history in the playoff era to win consecutive titles in different classes. Marshwood was the first to achieve the feat, winning class B in 1988 and then winning class A in 1989.

- This weekend featured six teams that were playing in their twelfth football game. That is the highest number of twelfth game teams in the championship game since the move to four classes.

- Quote of the week
"We had a very consistent message that we believe and that we aren't going to back down from anyone."
Tom Bertrand, MCI head coach

- Unbeaten tracker 
Wells - 16 consecutive wins
Marshwood - 12 consecutive wins
Boothbay - 10 consecutive wins
Scarborough - 8 consecutive wins
Maine Central Institute - 4 consecutive wins

- There is still one final football game left in the 2017 calendar year, and that is the 106th Maine Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl. Held at Fitzpatrick Stadium at 10 am on Thanksgiving morning, it pits the two Portland public schools of the Deering Rams and the Portland Bulldogs. Portland leads the all-time series 58-40-7.

- Other events that will be taking place will be the announcements of the Maine Gatorade Football Player of the Year, the James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy, and the Frank J. Gaziano Defensive and Offensive Linemen of the Year nominations.

- Back in August, we asked you the fans to predict who you thought would win in the state championships. Three months later, and here are the people that picked correctly
Class A - Cam Fredette and Les Stevens
Class B - Bobbi-Jean Blanchette, Seth Aumann and Rossie Kearson
Class C - Thomas Noble, Travis Brunette, Bryce Hanaire, Samantha Ann, Bobbi-Jean Blanchette and Kamron Bisson
Class D - Thomas Noble, Bobbi-Jean Blanchette, Seth Aumann, Kamron Bisson, James Stanley, Bethany Bourque Colby, Cam Fredette, Les Stevens, and Norman Pelletier 

- What are your thoughts on the weekend?