LISBON — Oak Hill senior lineman Mike Pease gripped the Western D Campbell Conference championship plaque with tears in his eyes as if he were never going to let it go.

Pease was not the only Raider to be overcome by the emotion of the moment following Oak Hill’s narrow 7-6 win over Lisbon on Saturday afternoon.

“I didn’t think I would cry but I am because I’m just so happy that we’ve done it,” Oak Hill junior lineman Garrett Gile said. “We were all prepared, we were ready to play.”

Winning a regional title is an emotional experience in itself, but its the path the Raiders traveled to get back to their second straight Class D championship that led to many of the Oak Hill players shedding celebratory tears.

Oak Hill will play Little Ten Conference champ Maine Central Institute on Saturday at 2:36 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland for the Class D state title.

It is a journey that began with near disaster, as wet, rainy conditions provided a reality check in an opening round 7-6 victory over No. 6 Maranacook — whom the Raiders had beaten 21-0 earlier this season.

“The season flashed before our eyes,” Pease said. “During Maranacook at halftime we went down to the locker room and something just hit us. We saw our season depleting because of rain or just simple things.”

Oak Hill responded by rolling Dirigo 25-6 in Dixfield the following week, before fittingly ending Campbell Conference play with another grueling 7-6 win Saturday over Lisbon.

“It still hasn’t sunk in to me really,” Oak Hill senior Alex Mace said Saturday of the team’s run. “It’s unbelievable.”

“Every week we’re trying to get another week,” classmate Kyle Flaherty added. “We just don’t want it to end.”

One way or another, the season will end for the Raiders on Saturday.

• • •

The Maine Principals’ Association finalized starting times for the three state championship games at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday.

The day begins with the Class A final between Windham and Thornton Academy at 11:06 a.m., with Oak Hill and MCI following at 2:36 p.m. The last game of the day, the Class B championship between Brunswick and Marshwood, will kick off at 6:06 p.m.

The Class C championship game between Leavitt and Winslow is Friday at 7:06 p.m. at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium in Orono.

Ticket prices for the state championship games are $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. One ticket is good for all three games at Fitzpatrick Stadium, but you must buy a new ticket to re-enter the facility if you leave.

• • •

There will be no first-time state champion this season. Each of the eight schools playing in a title game this weekend has at least one football belt to its credit, although for a couple of them it was won so long ago that hoisting a Gold Ball will seem like a new experience.

Brunswick last won a football crown in 1963 when the Dragons shared the Class B title with Madison. Marshwood, Brunswick’s opponent in the Class B final, has not won a state championship since taking the Class A win in 1989.

For MCI, the title drought goes back 40 years. The Huskies won the Class D state championship in 1974.

While playing in the last two Class C state championship games, Winslow’s last title came in 2001 when it won the Class B championship for the second consecutive season.

The other four schools playing this weekend have each won a title within the last five years. Windham was Class A champ in 2009, while its opponent on Saturday, Thornton Academy, won the title in 2012. Leavitt and Oak Hill are defending state champs in Class C and Class D, respectively, and are hoping to repeat.

• • •

When the games get bigger, the Raiders lean on their stars.

In Saturday’s win over the Greyhounds, Oak Hill ran 49 offensive plays, 44 of which were runs by Flaherty or Mace and one was a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dalton Therrien to Mace.

Giving the ball the vast majority of the time to Mace or Flaherty has been the providing theme in the Raiders’ play calling this postseason, as the two stars have proven themselves to be two of the top players in the Campbell Conference this season.

Those on hand Saturday may have gotten a glimpse at one of Western D’s future stars, however, in Lisbon sophomore quarterback Tyler Halls.

“I thought Tyler played a perfect game,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “Tyler’s a special athlete.”

Halls had started at wide receiver throughout the season for the Greyhounds, but was forced under center after quarterback Kyle Bourget tore his ACL in the semifinals against Old Orchard Beach.

Playing quarterback for the first time since the preseason, Halls nearly led his team past the defending regional champs. He ran the ball 10 times for 25 yards and also completed 5-of-8 passes for 61 yards, but more importantly he took care of the football.

His statistics may not have been overwhelmingly impressive, but the way he carried himself and ran the Lisbon offense with such limited experience throughout the season certainly was.

“He’s an excellent player,” Flaherty said. “He’s a threat on passing, running. He runs the counter well. He’s just an awesome player.”

• • •

On Saturday, Husson University clinched its first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title with a win at Mt. Ida, and with it the Eagles (8-1) earned a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Eagles host New England Football Conference winner MIT (9-0) on Saturday at noon in the first round.

A handful of central Maine athletes have been key contributors to Husson’s successful season.

Mt. Blue graduate Matt Archer starts at left tackle on Husson’s offensive line, and is a key member of the unit that led the conference in yards per game, 366.1.

Lawrence grad Bryant Wade, a linebacker, is third on the team in tackles, with 42, and leads Husson with three fumble recoveries. Cony grad Rick Orio, a defensive back, has 34 tackles and three interceptions.

Oak Hill grad Luke Washburn won the Gaziano Award as the top high school defensive lineman in the state last season. Washburn has 31 tackles, including eight for a loss.

Defensive back Alonzo Connor, a Gardiner grad, has 19 tackles for the Eagles. Maranacook’s Ian Palmer has 19 stops from his defensive line position.

If Husson wins it will face either Wesley — the No. 4 team in the nation in the latest D3football.com poll — or Hampden-Sydney in the second round.

• • •

After last week’s 28-27 loss to Lawrence in the Pine Tree Conference B semifinals, Cony was not quite ready for its season to end.

Monday means film day for most teams so that is exactly what the Rams did last Monday.

“We talked with our kids on Monday and they wanted to watch film,” Cony coach Robby Vachon said. “We got together and told them it’s not going to be fun. We watched the game together and saw a lot of ‘what ifs.’

“…It wasn’t too bad up until you get down to the final four minutes.” It is easy to see why the Rams were not ready for winter given some of the players whose careers ended last weekend. Tayler Carrier, a four-year starter for Cony, caught 69 passes for 904 yards and seven touchdowns, and also rushed for another five scores this season. He departs the program as the school’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving touchdowns and receiving yards.

“Tayler Carrier had one of the best four-year careers a Cony football player has had,” Vachon said. “Tayler is in pretty good company now.”

It was also an impressive season for fellow senior Mitchell Caron, who stepped in almost seamlessly at quarterback for former Cony great Ben Lucas. Caron completed 193 of 312 passes for 2,542 yards and 22 touchdowns and also rushed for 369 yards and seven touchdowns on 100 carries.

The Rams will certainly miss the contributions of those two seniors, among others, but the cupboard will not be completely bare at Cony next season with players like junior running back/linebacker Reid Shostak returning for another year.

Shostak rushed for 686 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries and also caught 39 passes for 442 yards and five touchdowns this past fall.

• • •

A quick look at some of the other local statistical leaders: Maranacook’s Levi Emery had 18 catches for 325 yards and six touchdowns, while Josh Murphy led the defense with 82 solo tackles, two sacks and three fumble recoveries…Zack Phinney finished with 359 yards and five touchdowns on 68 rushing attempts for Winthrop/Monmouth, while Dakota Carter had 62 total tackles, one sack and two interceptions…Gardiner’s Jake Truman had 73 tackles and caught 17 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns, while Adrian Heath made 71 tackles, forced three fumbles and blocked a punt…Messalonskee’s Jack Bernatchez finished the season with 1,689 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns…Oak Hill’s Alex Mace has rushed for 1,379 yards and 13 touchdowns, racked up another 473 yards and five touchdowns in the receiving game and also has an interception return for a touchdown. Kyle Flaherty has rushed for 1,149 yards and 13 touchdowns…Kents Hill’s Raph Major-Dagenais had 43 catches for 812 yards and nine touchdowns, rushed for 254 yards and one touchdown and threw two touchdown passes. Quarterback Noah Henson completed 81-of-177 passes for 1,241 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Staff Writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report

 

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley


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