When the Oak Hill football team secured its place in the Class D state championship game last fall, it got quite a send-off from supporters when it embarked to Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“We had a lot of people come out with signs and line the streets to the turnpike,” Oak Hill athletic director Jim Palmer said. “It was great for the kids to see. It was important to them.”

A similar scene played out Saturday morning, hours before the Raiders took the field yet again at Fitzpatrick Stadium for a chance at another Gold Ball. Oak Hill, of Wales, sank Bucksport 42-35 in the Class D state game last year.

The team left Oak Hill between 10:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., Palmer said.

The Wales police and fire departments escorted team buses off school grounds. Supporters once again lined the streets as the Raiders embarked to Portland.

“Again, it was quite a send-off,” Palmer said. “We had police and firetrucks, and members of the community lined the road to the highway. They had signs and horns. We went through Lisbon and Topsham and we had a lot of people along the way. There would be sporadic spaces, but it was pretty cool to see.”

Palmer added that the Raiders were quiet and focused when they left.

“Just like last year,” he said. “There were a lot of similarities.”

Maine Central Institute, meanwhile, also received a police escort off school grounds this morning.

“This is all new to us,” MCI athletic director Jim Leonard said. “None of our kids have done any of this. We had a brunch with the team and then we had the police escort to I-95. We arrived at halftime of the (Class) A (state) game and got ready. There was a lot of excitement in the air. The town turned out pretty well.”

It’s been 14 years since MCI last played in a state championship game.

Leonard added the school sold about 500 tickets during a pre-sale this week.

• • •

A father-son combination was scheduled to officiate the final game of the day, the Class B championship between Marshwood and Brunswick.

Bill Leary and his son, Sean Leary, both work out of the Waterville board of officials. Bill was set to be a member of the sideline crew, while Sean was the field judge.

Sean Leary was a standout football player at Lawrence High School in the early 2000s.

Staff writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report


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