Although the Maine Principals’ Association voted down adding a fourth class to Maine high school football earlier this year, there are still
plenty of changes awaiting teams and their fans this season.
The classification committee of the MPA decided not to include a fourth class, perhaps waiting for a few more schools to adopt the sport to push the number to 80. There are currently 76 football playing schools in the state, with some schools combining teams this year and others playing for the first time.
Class A saw the fewest changes with four schools — Brewer, Mt. Blue, Marshwood and Westbrook — dropping to Class B. Marshwood is the only Maine high school to have won a state football championship in each of four classes, including the now-defunct Class D. Marshwood and Westbrook will play in Western Maine Class B where they’ll be joined by Spruce Mountain, a new school combining former Class C rivals Jay and Livermore Falls.
Brewer and Mt. Blue will play in Eastern Maine Class B that now includes Oceanside, a new school combining Rockland and Georges Valley. Rockland previously played in Class C while Georges Valley did not have football. Also joining Class B East this season are Old Town and Madison/Carrabec, both of whom played in Class C last season.
Eastern Maine Class C is adding two new programs in Hermon and Washington Academy while Telstar is also playing varsity football after
fielding a club team the past few seasons and will compete in Western C. The West also includes two teams that have dropped from the B ranks in Winslow and Poland.
Here’s a look at some of the top teams in each class who get under way Friday night:
CLASS A EAST
Lewiston: The Blue Devils return eight starters on offense and defense from a team that lost 28-25 to Bangor in the conference final. Quarterback Chris Madden highlights a returning backfield that includes tailbacks Jeff Turcotte and Matt Therrien. Rudy Pandora, a 6-foot-5 two way tackle, returns to the line.
Lawrence: The last East team to win a state title (2006), the Bulldogs have been upset in the playoffs the past two seasons after going
unbeaten in the regular season. Junior Spencer Carey returns at quarterback while senior Shaun Carroll and junior Anthony Sementelli are
the top returning rushers. The defensive line is new but the secondary is experienced.
Brunswick: The Dragons upset Lawrence in the playoffs and nearly knocked off Bangor. They return one of the top backs in the conference in senior Dylan Walton who was injured midway through last season. Also returning to the backfield is Keith Kitchens.
CLASS A WEST
Cheverus: The Stags won their first championship in 25 years last season and despite the loss of QB and Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Peter Gwilym, they have enough to repeat. Returning is running back Spencer Cooke who scored four TDs and rushed for 239 yards in the state title game. Cam Olson steps in at quarterback and has a top-notch receiver in Louie DiStasio. They also return Coach John Wolfgram who has more victories and state titles than any coach in the state.
Bonny Eagle: The Scots are looking for another gold ball after winning four of them since 2004, the last in 2008. They have a quick strike
offense led by senior running back Nick Adkins who missed part of last season due to injury. Junior Tyson Goodale takes over at quarterback and has quality receiver in Cam Cooper and Matt Burnell.
Scarborough: After taking its lumps for several years since moving to Class A, the Red Storm turned the corner last year by going 8-2 and
posting their first playoff win. Their offense features multiple looks and is led by running back Scott Thibeault and quarterback Dillon Russo.
CLASS B EAST
Leavitt: The two-time defending conference champs return Fitzpatrick candidate Jordan Hersom at quarterback. Last season he rushed for over 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 11 TDs and over 600 yards. Jake Ouellette, a 1,300-yard rusher, also returns to the backfield.
Mt. Blue: The Cougars will make some noise with their vaunted “Cougar Gun” passing attack. Junior quarterback Jordan Whitney finished second among passers in Class A east last season and has a good target to throw to in 6-foot-5 Cam Sennick. Izaiha Tracy and Eric Berry return to the backfield.
Gardiner: Senior Alonzo Connor rushed for 2,032 yards and 31 touchdowns last season and is one of the top backs in the state. Junior Dennis Meehan takes over at quarterback and is also one of the state’s top place kickers. Eddie Donnell, a 260-pound tackle, is a top defender.
CLASS B WEST
Wells: The Warriors hope to break the stranglehold Mountain Valley has had on B West the past several years. Last year they lost to MV in the Western final. They return a big offensive line in front of quarterback Paul McDonough while linebacker/running back Louis DiTomasso is also a key player on both sides of the ball.
Mountain Valley: The Falcons won their fourth state title in seven years last season but did sustain a few significant graduation losses. They
should be strong once again on defense, though. Linebackers Ryan Grover and Izaak Mills return to lead a defense that actually scored more than the 30 points it allowed last season. Zack Radcliffe takes over at quarterback.
Marshwood: The Hawks went just 2-6 in Class A last season, but with 14 returning starters on the offensive and defensive lines they should
contend in class B this fall. They are the only team to win a state title in all four classes. Troy Pappas, at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, is the
CLASS C EAST
Foxcroft: The Ponies are usually in contention and should be again this season after a 5-5 year in which they lost by a point to eventual
conference champion Stearns. They return five starters in the offensive line in front of quarterback Chris Shorey. Dan Boyer will get a lot of
carries while Matt LaCasce is the team’s top lineman.
John Bapst: The Crusaders went 8-3 last season and played in their fourth straight conference championship game. Among their returning
players in senior two-way end Max Andrews, considered by many the top player in the Little Ten Conference. Devon Romain is the quarterback while Andrew Catlin plays tailback.
Bucksport: The Bucks went 5-3 in the regular season before losing in the LTC quarterfinals and return enough to contend for a playoff spot. Mike Cummings is the team’s quarterback and he’ll hand the ball to 235-pound fullback Shawn Smith or tailback Chris Powell.
CLASS C WEST
Yarmouth: The Clippers ran the table last season for their first ever state championship. They return enough to warrant the role as favorites.
Sophomore Brady Neujahr returns to start at quarterback and has a good receiver to throw to in senior Bart Gallagher. Tailback Anders Overhaug is one of the leading returning running backs in the state while Bryce Snyder is a top-notch place kicker.
Lisbon: It’s tough to count the Greyhounds and veteran coach Dick Mynahan out no matter what the graduation losses. They return three
senior starters in linebacker Zach Splude, wide receiver Cam Graf and guard Chase Hunter. Junior quarterback Ryan Riordan and sophomore
tailback Jordan Torres also saw plenty of action last season.
Traip: in the first half of this decade, the Rangers lost 51 games in a row to set a state record. But a lot has changed since. Last season they
went 6-3 and earned a playoff berth and with several returning starters they should contend again. With just 30 players on the squad depth will be an issue. Returning running back Tyler Nay rushed for over 1,000 yards last season while fullback/linebacker Nick Dulac is a three-year starter.
Preseason Top 10
3. Bonny Eagle
10. Mtn. Valley
Gardiner tops Cony
These days it’s just an preseason exhibition game but over 3,000 fans turned out Friday night at Alumni Field in Augusta to watch Cony and
Gardiner play for the 134th time in a rivalry that began in 1892.
Gardiner won, 36-34, in overtime as senior tailback Alonzo Connor rushed for the winning touchdown and the two-point conversion. Cony answered with a touchdown but the conversion rush fell six inches short.
Connor rushed for a game-high 241 yards and three touchdowns while teammate Justin Lovely intercepted two passes, returning one 79 yards for a score.
Cony sophomore Ben Lucas made an impressive debut at quarterback, competing 17 of 29 passes for 273 yards and three
touchdowns. Junior Chandler Shostak caught 11 Lucas passes for 188 yards.
Cony leads the series 67-57-10.