WINSLOW — One minute after he came close to returning an interception for a touchdown, Justin Martin got the biggest second chance of his football career.
Martin, a 6-foot-5 defensive back for the Winslow High School football team, leaped to snag Brett Whittemore’s pass at the Winslow 27-yard line. Martin then ran down the visitor’s sideline, letting his teammates clear the way for a 73-yard touchdown return.
“We had great blocking when I was running,” Martin said. “They just got everybody out of my way and I just ran.”
The play came 1 minute, 1 second after Zach Guptill scored Winslow’s only offensive touchdown of the day, and gave the Black Raiders some breathing room midway through the fourth quarter.
Winslow held on for a 17-6 win over Dirigo, taking the Campbell Conference Class C title in just its second season in the league.
Winslow, now 10-1, will face Foxcroft Academy in the Class C state championship game next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. This is Winslow’s first trip to the state championship since winning Class B East in 2006. Dirigo ends the season at 8-3.
“Turnovers were really key,” Winslow linebacker Brock Deschaine said. “Our defensive line got pressure on (Whittemore) and everybody did their job.”
All three of Winslow’s scores came off a Dirigo turnover. Martin’s first interception, with 9:50 left in the game, set up Guptill’s 6-yard touchdown run and a 10-0 Winslow lead. Martin grabbed that Whittemore pass at the Dirigo 29, and was pushed out of bounds at the 6. Guptill scored on the next play.
“Since I’m really tall, I just jump up for the ball. Hopefully, you catch it, and I just run back,” Martin said.
Dirigo committed four turnovers, two in each half. Adam Pelletier’s interception of Whittemore midway through the second quarter set Dylan Hapworth up for a 26-yard field goal with 2:29 left in the first half. Hapworth’s line drive kick was right down the middle, minutes after he had a 40-yard field goal try go short and right.
“Before the game, we came out, I was kicking them pretty good. I knew I could make it. I just had to relax,” Hapworth said.
Winslow’s ability to stop the run forced the Cougars into throwing situations, Dirigo head coach Dave Crutchfield said.
“We had to take some chances. We had to get out of long yardage situations, so we had to throw the ball. We couldn’t seem to find it,” Crutchfield said. “A couple of times, there was some pass interference calls, the refs said it wasn’t pass interference, but my guy’s trying to get the ball. Their guy’s not. It’s not the refs fault, that’s for sure, but there’s a couple calls that could’ve gone our way.”
The Black Raiders focused on trying to contain Spencer Trenoweth, Dirigo’s 1,000-yard running back. Trenoweth gained 70 yards on 10 carries, and had two catches for 23 yards.
“Trenoweth, he’s so dangerous every time he touches the ball he can go,” Winslow coach Mike Siviski said. “I don’t think anybody’s really stopped him this year. We slowed him down. I don’t know that we stopped him.”
Dirigo gained 219 yards to Winslow’s 188, and the Cougars held Winslow’s strong running game to 147 yards on 42 carries. Joe Hopkins, who has more than 1,200 yards on the season, gained just 38 yards on 13 carries. Guptill led the Black Raiders with 79 yards on 19 carries.
In an effort to spark the offense in the second half, Winslow came out and ran two drives with no huddle. While the Black Raiders gained a couple first downs, each drive stalled near midfield, and Winslow had to punt.
“We tried to get a few first downs. You get a game like this, it’s a game of field position,” Siviski said. “I think Hapworth punted very well for us, and we gave them a long field a lot.”
Dirigo finally got on the board with 6:35 in the game, when Whittemore (6 for 19, 60 yards) threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Barnett. Guptill recovered the ensuing onside kick, and while the Cougars got one more offensive series, they stalled at the Winslow 30 with 2:00 to play.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242