The score has illuminated the Clark Field scoreboard before each Skowhegan Area High School home football game this season since the game was played on the first Friday night of the season. This week, with the Indians practicing under the lights at Clark Field, the score has gone up every day. The score has been a reminder to the Skowhegan football team all season, so much that it’s not the score anymore, it’s The Score, and it’s been as much a part of Skowhegan’s run to the final day of the season as anything.

“It’s motivation,” Skowhegan coach Ryan Libby simply said.

The score is 55-12, as in Marshwood 55, Skowhegan 12. That was the final score of Skowhegan’s season-opening loss.

On Saturday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, the Indians meet undefeated Marshwood again, this time in the Class B state championship game. Kickoff is set for 6:06 p.m.

This is Skowhegan’s first state championship game appearance since 2008, when the Indians fell to Bonny Eagle in the Class A final. Marshwood has been a Class B state game regular in recent years. This is the Hawks’ fourth title game appearance since 2012. State champs in 2014 and 2015, Marshwood is going for its third title in four seasons.

“It’s a source of pride,” Marshwood coach Alex Rotsko said of his team’s success. “You don’t want to be the ones who let people down. The kids want to be successful.”

Despite blowing out Skowhegan earlier this season, Rotsko says his team will not be overconfident. A game played in the first week of the season almost feels like a scrimmage at this point, he said. Both teams are much different, and much improved.

“I’ve been watching their film from the last couple weeks, and it’s all new numbers out there,” Rotsko said.

It’s been 11 weeks since the first Skowhegan-Marshwood game, but Libby has a good idea what to expect from the Hawks.

“Marshwood’s just very good. They are very big up front. They will outweigh us across the board up front,” Libby said.

Like Brewer and Lawrence, Skowhegan’s opponents in the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs, Marshwood is a run-heavy team using the wing-T as a base offensive formation. Unlike most teams, the Hawks do not rely on one or two ball carriers. A deep group of backs — led by Kyle Glidden, Joe Taran, and Matthew Goodwin, along with quarterback Tommy Springer — give the Hawks depth that’s tough to match.

“We’ve faced teams with one, maybe two, really good backs this year. Marshwood can hand it to a few guys or just let the QB run it. It makes it harder. You can’t just stop one player,” Libby said.

Springer left Marshwood’s win over Falmouth in the regional final Saturday with concussion-like symptoms, but Rotsko expects the quarterback to play Saturday.

“He’s running around with a big smile on his face. He’s ready to go,” Rotsko said.

Defensively, the Hawks have been stout throughout the season, allowing an average of just 12 points per game. Skowhegan’s spread passing game has improved all season. Quarterback Marcus Christopher has 2,901 yards passing with 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions, three of those picks coming against Marshwood in the September meeting. Christopher’s passes have gone primarily to three senior receivers: Cam Barnes (55 catches, 857 yards, 10 touchdowns), Jon Bell (45 catches, 825 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Sean Savage (38 catches, 496 yards, seven touchdowns). Unlike some high school teams, cold and wet weather hasn’t caused Skowhegan to change its offensive formula.

“We try to keep doing what we do, even in bad weather this month. In the playoffs, we were able to come out and grind it a little bit, but we still threw the ball 40 times against Lawrence and moved the ball pretty well,” Libby said.

After struggling in the regular season, Skowhegan’s defense has hit its stride in the playoffs. A team that allowed an average of 37 points per game in eight regular season games held Brewer to 13 and shutout Lawrence, after allowing 56 points to the Bulldogs in the first meeting.

If there’s one thing Skowhegan wants to improve, it’s red zone offense. In the regional championship game, the Indians had five drives stall inside the Lawrence 20 yard line without points. Against Marshwood, Skowhegan has to convert those red zone opportunities, because they likely won’t be many.

“We were stuffed three times in scoring position, a couple times on the one. We definitely want to make sure we execute those and get the points. We can’t leave points off the board,” Libby said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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