The beginning of the end of the high school football season starts Friday night, when Winslow plays Leavitt for the Class C championship at Alfond Stadium in Orono. Here are a few blogservations you should know entering state title weekend …

CLASS A: Most — if not all — prognosticators were certain we were on our way to an epic Thornton Academy-Cheverus state title game. It looked like that was exactly how it was going to play out until Windham threw a monkey wrench in those plans by beating Cheverus 21-20 in the Eastern A title game last weekend. If you’re shocked the Eagles (9-1) have made it this far, well, you shouldn’t be. In fact, the Eagles are the most battle-tested team in this game. Windham beat the Stags twice —  35-7 on Sept. 27 and last weekend in the regional final. The Eagles also defeated a strong Portland team in the regional quarterfinals.

Thornton (9-1) handily beat ancient rival Biddeford 41-20 in the final game of the regular season (Biddeford made it to the playoffs but lost to Bonny Eagle in the semifinals), but the Golden Trojans really only had two competitive games during the season. In those games, Thornton lost 48-41 to Cheverus in the regular season and beat Bonny Eagle 30-14 in the regional final. Don’t be shocked if it’s the Eagles hoisting the Gold Ball early Saturday afternoon.

Fun fact: both of these teams suffered their lone loss of the season on the same day, Oct. 11. Thornton fell to the Stags while Windham dropped a 12-6 game against Portland.

CLASS B: With respect to Brunswick, this could be the most lopsided game of the weekend. In NFL terms, Marshwood is like the 2007 New England Patriots. The Hawks (11-0) have scored 559 points on offense — an average of 50 points per game — with most of the scoring coming from running back Brett Gerry, a certain James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy favorite. Just as impressive is Marshwood’s defense. The Hawks have allowed an average of 7 points per game this season, with five shutouts. Kennebunk managed to score 20 points on Marshwood in a 61-20 loss on Sept. 26, the most scored by an opponent this season.

Like the 2007 Patriots, the Hawks are not completely indestructible. Much like Windham, Brunswick (9-1) is tested and played in a better conference. Brunswick had key victories against the likes of playoff teams such as Cony (52-27 win on Sept. 19), Mt. Blue (35-7 on Oct. 3) and Lawrence twice (34-14 on Oct. 17 and 48-19 in the regional final). The Dragons would do well to get the video of last weekend’s Western Class B final — in which Marshwood beat rival York 14-13 — as it may have revealed a few flaws for the Hawks.  The forecast for Saturday night calls for freezing temperatures at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, which could make for a slick ball. Turnovers, as they always are, will be a key.

CLASS C: The obvious storyline entering this game between Leavitt and Winslow is that it’s a rematch of the state championship game from last year. The Hornets ran away with that game, beating the Black Raiders 47-18. Winslow (10-0) has finished as a state runner-up each of the last two seasons, something that no doubt eats at the Black Raiders. Winslow, as in the past, has relied heavily on its run game with the likes of Dylan Hapworth and Kenny Rickard. However, the passing game — led by quarterback Bobby Chenard — has come on as of late. Chenard threw for 92 yards and three touchdowns last week in the regional final against rival Waterville.

The real story is Winslow’s defense. The Black Raiders have allowed an average of 11 points per game — no more than 18 points in a game all season — and will need that defense to step up against a high-powered Leavitt offense that has averaged 40 points a game this season. If you count its time in Class B, this will be Leavitt’s fifth trip to a state final in the last six years. The success of the Hornets (10-1) during that stretch can be largely attributed to head coach Mike Hathaway, who is only in his early 40s. Friday night will be an excellent chess match between Hathaway and Winslow’s Mike Siviski.

Temperatures will be well below 20 degrees Friday night in Orono, making ball security all the more important.

CLASS D: If you love the running game, this is the game for you. Oak Hill (10-1) and MCI (10-0) are almost the same sort of team. The Raiders and Huskies have multiple weapons in the run game that make them dangerous. They also each have underrated defenses, as MCI has allowed 10 points per game this season, while Oak Hill has allowed 7 points per game. There is absolutely no secret to how the defending Class D champion Raiders score points. Oak Hill will attack with its top two running backs, Kyle Flaherty and Alex Mace. Each back has rushed for more than 4,000 rushing yards in their careers. Mace provides the lightning between the duo while Flaherty delivers the thunder. Where they go, so go the Raiders.

An added bonus for Oak Hill is championship game experience.  The last time MCI has seen a state final was 14 years ago, when the Huskies lost 22-0 to Winthrop in the Class C title game. MCI lost its top back in Jonathan Santiago early in the season, but to the Huskies’ credit they never lost stride. Eric Hathaway, Eli Buzzell, Alex Bertrand and Willie Moss each helped pick up the slack while Santiago was out, and MCI rivals Waterville in having one of the deepest running back lineups in the state. The more physical defense that can shut down the run game will be the one that walks away from this game with the Gold Ball.

Dave Dyer — 621-5639

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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