Times are set for the high school football state championship games this weekend.

The four-game weekend kicks off at 6 p.m., Friday, with the Class C championship game between Leavitt (11-0) and Maine Central Institute (9-2) at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium in Orono. MCI is going for its first state championship since beating Cape Elizabeth in the Class C final two years ago. Leavitt last won the Gold Ball in 2013, and last played in the state championship game in 2014.

Saturday’s triple header at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium begins at 11 a.m. with the Class A final between Thornton Academy (11-0) and Bonny Eagle (10-1). Thornton is looking for a second straight title, while Bonny Eagle last won the state championship in 2016. This is the only state championship game that’s a rematch of a regular season contest. Thornton beat Bonny Eagle, 21-14, on Oct. 5.

MCI’s Parker St. Clair, left, celebrates with teammates after defeating Winslow in the Class C North final Saturday in Hampden. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson Buy this Photo

Saturday’s middle game is the Class D final between Lisbon (7-3) and Bucksport (9-0). Lisbon’s last state title came in 2006, in Class C when there were three classes of 11-man football. Bucksport’s last championship came in 2004, also in Class C.

The final game of the season is the Class B championship between Marshwood (10-1) and Brunswick (11-0). The game, which is at 6 p.m. Saturday, is a rematch of last season’s state final, which the Hawks won, 49-0. Marshwood is playing for its third straight state title and fifth in sixth seasons. Brunswick is looking for its first Gold Ball since 2016.

The inaugural eight-man state championship was decided last Saturday, with Mt. Ararat taking a 58-25 win over Old Orchard Beach.

 

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Following a 49-21 victory over Winslow on Saturday in the Big 11 Conference championship game, MCI head coach Tom Bertrand praised his entire coaching staff, particularly defensive coordinator Lincoln Robinson.

“Coach Robinson does a great job coordinating that defense. We got a lot of stuff in. We want to find what works and grind with it. (Winslow) found some things that worked, too, and we had to respond,” Bertrand said.

The Huskies held Winslow’s potent offense to 192 yards, a vast improvement from the regular season meeting, in which the Black Raiders gained 500 yards in a 61-37 win. Not only did Robinson put together the defensive game plan, he suggested the first play MCI ran Saturday afternoon. That play was a designed quarterback keeper, and Ryan Friend took it 78 yards to the Winslow 1. Isaac Bussell scored on the next play, and MCI had the lead with 9:47 to play in the first quarter.

This has been a season of ups and downs for the Huskies, Bertrand said. MCI won its first four games before dropping back-to-back games to Wells and Winslow. The Huskies closed the regular season with shutout wins over Medomak Valley and Hermon, then won three regional playoff games by an average of 27 points.

“We had some bumps along the way. We had some injuries and we had some grade issues. Just some things going on, nothing major. It’s been a roller coaster, and we hope we’re on the incline now,” Bertrand said.

 

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Despite dropping a 42-14 decision to Brunswick in the Pine Tree Conference Class B title game, Lawrence still embraced another strong season.

For the third straight season, Lawrence advanced to the conference title game. While the Bulldogs have not been to the state championship game since 2012, when they played in Class A, three straight conference championship games proves the program is on solid footing.

Lawrence players console each other after they fell to Brunswick in the Pine Tree Conference Class B title game Friday night at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Morning Sentinel photo by Rich Abrahamson

“We’re very proud of of our kids. We have kids in our program that love to play for Lawrence High School. I don’t think that’s going to change,” Lawrence head coach John Hersom said after Friday’s loss. “Certainly, they have a lot of pride in what we’re trying to do. Hopefully, we’ll continue to grow as a program and get ourselves better.”

 

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Around the state: Mt. Ararat’s Holdan Brannan set the bar high for future participants in the eight-man state championship game. Brannan ran for 341 yards and seven touchdowns in the Eagles’ victory over Old Orchard Beach… There are no first time participants in any of the 11-man state championship football games. The longest championship game drought for the eight teams involved belongs to Bucksport, and that dates just six seasons to 2013. The Golden Bucks lost the Class D state game to Oak Hill that season, 42-35… A win Saturday gives Thornton Academy its fifth Gold Ball in eight seasons. The Trojans have won their last six state game appearances, and have not lost a state championship game since falling to Waterville in 1974… Bonny Eagle is 6-0 lifetime in state championship games.

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