PORTLAND — Few things are more important than talent when it comes to winning a state championship.

Every high school football team that took home a Gold Ball this weekend had an abundance of it, yet clearly experience had its place as well given which teams took home hardware.

Each state champion from a season ago — Thornton Academy, Marshwood, Winslow and Oak Hill — repeated this weekend and the Raiders were up first Friday night in Orono against Maine Central Institute. In a game full of turnovers, the Raiders showed their resolve to capture the Class D title 34-21.

“We all knew we wanted to end it,” Oak Hill quarterback Dalton Therrien said after the win. “We knew it was going to be a lot of hard work and we just put it in.”

Knowing what it took to capture a state title was key for each winner this weekend, but also understanding what it felt like to take the field in front of a big crowd at a larger venue like Fitzpatrick Stadium was equally critical.

“Being here and having all that poise, knowing what to expect with the fans and all the craziness going on and just to keep our composure through adversity it definitely helped,” said Thornton Academy quarterback Austin McCrum, who helped lead the Golden Trojans past Portland 24-14 for the Class A title.

Players like Winslow senior Alec Clark were hardly fazed by the atmosphere Saturday afternoon in the Black Raiders 24-10 win over Yarmouth for the Class C championship. In addition to winning Gold Balls with Winslow in each of the past two season he also started in four state championship games in his career.

“It’s definitely the mental stage,” Clark said. “It’s just like anything, the more experience you get the easier it is to get mentally prepared. It starts there.”

Marshwood made sure to make it a clean sweep for the defending champs in the nightcap Friday night, scoring a 21-14 victory over Brunswick for the Class B championship.

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Speaking of hardware, now that the season is over talk of who will take home the 2015 Fitzpatrick Trophy are sure to follow. McCrum — along with Class A North Player of the Year Joe Esposito, of Portland — figures to be one of a number of candidates discussed in the coming weeks.

“I haven’t even thought about it until this point,” McCrum said. “My main goal was to get this ring and if Greg (Ruff) is our nominee and Greg goes and gets it I’ll be the proudest teammate he has. I have no problem with that.”

McCrum raises a question many coaches and potential candidates have encountered over the years when it comes to postseason awards. Picking between star teammates — like McCrum and Ruff — is an inexact science and one way or another a worthy candidate will be left off the ballot.

“That will come up. We’ll see that in the next few weeks,” Thornton head coach Kevin Kezal said.

The Trojans are unlikely to be the only team faced with such a conundrum and even less likely to be the last.

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Now that Classes B, C and D have each rotated their state title games through the University of Maine, the Maine Principals’ Association will discuss the future of the northern site.

While it’s unlikely Class A will get into the rotation for UMaine, the MPA has heard from some southern Class B schools that would prefer Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium be the permanent site for the Class B championship game — as it is with Class A.

“It’s something we’ll talk about,” Mike Burnham, assistant executive director of the MPA, said.

The University of Maine is scheduled to host the Class B state title game next year.

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A key to Thornton’s win over Portland in the Class A championship game was special teams play, particularly in the first quarter.

The Trojans’ first touchdown came after they recovered a fumbled punt on the Portland 32-yard line. A few plays later Ruff scored on a 6-yard run to give Thornton a 7-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Thornton scored again when Ben Lambert returned a punt 71 yards for a touchdown.

In the second quarter a roughing the kicker penalty against Portland allowed Thornton to maintain possession, although the drive stalled without a score.

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