FRYEBURG — This is new territory for the Fryeburg Academy football team. Aside from a Class C state championship awarded in 1963, the Raiders do not have a long history of gridiron accomplishments. With Saturday’s 26-7 win over Gardiner, Fryeburg earned the first trip to a regional championship game in program history.

“Aside from a state championship in 1960-something, we’ve never been this far. The fact that we’re going to the (Class C) South finals says a lot about these kids,” Fryeburg coach David Turner said.

No. 2 Fryeburg (9-1) will face either No. 1 Leavitt or No. 4 Cape Elizabeth in the regional championship game next weekend. No. 3 Gardiner ends the season at 4-6.

Fryeburg set the tone on its first play from scrimmage, when Calvin Southwick cut to the right and ran 59 yards for a 6-0 lead 18 seconds into the game.

“We were expecting dive on the first play, and they ran that counter, and we all got sucked in and they ran it outside of us,” Gardiner coach Joe White said.

Fryeburg beat the Tigers 36-6 in late September, but Turner stressed to his team that game was ancient history.

“We knew the first game against them didn’t matter at all. Getting ahead quickly was big,” Turner said.

Fryeburg took a 12-0 lead with 2:27 left in the first quarter when quarterback Oscar Saunders snuck in from the 2. After going three and out its first two drives, Gardiner found some offensive rhythm on its third possession. The Tigers went 68 yards in seven plays, scoring on Garrett Maheux’s 15-yard run to cut Fryeburg’s lead to 12-7.

That was the only drive Gardiner could sustain against the tough Raiders’ defense, led by defensive lineman Tucker Buzzell. Nate Malinowski ran for 33 yards for the Tigers a week after going for 381 in last week’s win over Morse. Maheux gained 42 yards for Gardiner.

“They’re shooting gaps every time. They know we like to pull and run trap and belly stuff,” White said. “They were just sitting right in the hole, and it’s tough to break those.”

Most of the second half was played in a steady rain. Southwick (19 carries for 154 yards) scored on a 15-yard run with 8:26 left in the third when the Raiders took over on the Gardiner 33 after a failed fake punt run. With 1:02 left in the game, Liam Chisari’s 1-yard run capped the scoring for Fryeburg.

The game got chippy with the teams combining for seven personal fouls.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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