The only time Lawrence and Cheverus have played anything resembling football against each other is in the 7-on-7 summer league.

Lawrence coach John Hersom knows to not even try to compare that experience to what his Bulldogs will see from the Stags today.

“It’s not going to be anything near what we experienced over the summer,” Hersom said.

Lawrence (11-0) will face Cheverus (11-0) in the Class A state championship game at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium at 11:06 a.m. today in the first of three state title games. The Class C game between Bucksport (11-0) and Yarmouth (11-0) is at 2:36 p.m., while the Class B game between Leavitt (11-0) and Wells (11-0) kicks off at 6:06 p.m.

“I think they’ll be the best opponent we’ll have faced all season. Of course, they’re well-experienced at being in big games,” Hersom said of the Stags. “It will be a great challenge for us, but I think our kids like to be challenged.”

Cheverus is playing for its second consecutive state championship and has a 23-game winning streak. This is Lawrence’s third trip to the state final under Hersom, who led the Bulldogs to the state championship in 2006. Lawrence was runner-up in 2007.

While the Stags are playing for their second consecutive championship, coach John Wolfgram said the success of last season’s team wasn’t a big factor in shaping this year’s run to the final.

“It really didn’t. These kids kind of played a supporting role last year,” Wolfgram said. “We had a lot of seniors. It’s really a completely different team.”

Cheverus averages 37 points per game. Using the Wing-T as its base formation, Cheverus is a balanced offense with a number of weapons. When leading rusher Spencer Cooke went down with a foot injury late in the regular season, Don Goodrich stepped up in the playoffs, rushing for five touchdowns. Brent Green also will see a number of carries, and quarterback Cam Olson is a threat to run.

“A lot of guys have stepped in and done a good job,” Wolfgram said.

Olson has 12 touchdown passes, and his favorite target is receiver Louie DiStasio, who has seven touchdown catches.

The Stags offensive line is led by two senior captains, tackle Christian Deschenes and guard Mike Dedian.

“They’re pretty loaded on offense, we feel. We’ve got to play very good defense and tackle well and try to have a philosophy where we bend a little bit, but don’t break,” Hersom said.

The Lawrence defense is led by a strong defensive line. End Bryant Wade and tackle Eriq Stewart provide a strong pass rush, while end Jake Doolan, nose Spencer Sweatt and tackle Roy Barnaby are strong run stoppers. Linebackers Josh Perry and Luke Lawrence, along with strong safety Spencer Carey, are among the Bulldogs’ top tacklers.

“They’re a very good team. They’re well-coached,” Wolfgram said.

Offensively, the Bulldogs are as healthy as they have been in weeks. After a groin injury slowed halfback Shaun Carroll, Jr., late in the regular season, Carroll ran for 375 yards in two Pine Tree Conference Class A playoff games. Quarterback Alex Leathers, who took over when Carey suffered a shoulder injury, threw three touchdown passes in the conference playoffs. Anthony Sementelli, Carey and fullback Beau Grenier also will carry the ball for the Bulldogs, while Carey, Jake Doolan, Bryant Wade and Aaron LaFrance are the top receivers.

Josh Perry, a three-year starter at center, leads the Lawrence line, along with tackles Stewart and Barnaby and guards Caleb Champagne and Jeremy Frantz.

“They’re very solid on defense. They haven’t let up many points. I think it starts with their front seven guys,” Hersom said. “We’ve got to be opportunistic when we can.”

The ends are Goodrich and Colie Walsh, along with tackles Deschenes, Charlie Rainville and nose tackle Parker Doyon. Linebackers Green and Ryan Casale are quick to the ball, and DiStasio and Olson lead the secondary.

If the game comes down to special teams, both Lawrence and Cheverus have an excellent kicker, the Stags with DiStasio and the Bulldogs with freshman Chad Martin.

This might be the first game all season that Lawrence enters as the underdog.

“We’re really pleased with how our team has come together and come along. We’ve shown a real character and good work ethic. That’s really been provided by our older guys,” Hersom said. “We’ve been really determined down the stretch to get to this point. We’re pretty pleased. We feel we have a legitimate shot on Saturday as well. We want to take advantage of the opportunity that we have.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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