OAKLAND — For the Cape Elizabeth football team, the spread offense isn’t just a formation. It’s a philosophy.

“The word ‘spread’ is pretty key,” Capers coach Sean Green said. “We want to spread the ball out.”

With playmaking skill players like the Capers have, it’s no wonder. Cape Elizabeth’s offense was a picture of balance and depth Saturday night as the Capers rolled to an emphatic 52-7 victory over Gardiner at Messalonskee High School.

Five different players scored touchdowns, with Colin Campbell (13 carries, 104 yards) leading the way with three scores for the 2-0 Capers.

“I think we all knew we had this (performance) in our backseat, but tonight we really showed the state what we could do,” Campbell said. “Confidence-wise it doesn’t do much, because we already have that. We know what we’re capable of.”

Campbell did most of the damage, but he was far from the only player giving the Tigers fits. Quarterback Caden McDuffie ran 10 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, and also completed six passes to four different receivers for 80 yards and two touchdowns. James Rickman ran four times for 79 yards and two scores. Nick Laughlin had three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown, and Luke Mello caught a 12-yard touchdown pass.

“It’s fantastic. The best thing about being a quarterback,” McDuffie said. “It’s an endless cycle of ‘You can’t stop us.'”

“We want to utilize the whole field,” Green said. “We feel like we have guys who have come along and improved in the offseason, and earned the right to carry the football. … We’ve got guys that we feel confident in, and we’ll give them the ball the best we can.”

Cape Elizabeth receiver Nick Laughlin (2) drags Gardiner defensive back Cody Dingwell toward the end zone during high school football action Saturday at Messalonskee High School in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Capers’ well-oiled attack impressed Gardiner coach Pat Munzing, whose team fell to 1-2.

“Looking through and watching them play, I think they’re where we want to be,” he said. “From each aspect of what we’ve seen on film to where they came out on the field is kind of like where we were talking about where we want to be. … We just couldn’t match (their tempo). It was so much more than what we tried to match.”

The Capers punted on their first possession, but scored on the next five. Campbell ran in for a 10-yard score, McDuffie rolled out and found Laughlin for a 36-yard touchdown, and Campbell (4 yards) and Rickman (29) ran for scores before McDuffie found Mello to make it 32-0.

In the second half, McDuffie kept it for a 10-yard scoring run, Campbell ran in from 13 yards out for his third touchdown and Rickman ran 14 yards for his second to make it 52-0.

“After this hour-and-a-half bus ride, it was really impressive what our boys did,” McDuffie said. “Our linemen were hitting, our wide receivers were blocking, our running backs were hitting the holes great, it just opened everything up for me, personally. We were able to do whatever we wanted all night.”

Impressive as the Cape offense was, the defense was just as formidable. The Capers allowed 36 yards on 28 carries, and Laughlin, Ceroi Mello and Caden Lee recorded interceptions.

“We’ve got 11 guys doing their job individually,” Green said. “That’s what we preach. … We’re running to the football, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask.”

Gardiner found the end zone on the last play from scrimmage when Hunter Burgess found Acadian Parker for an 84-yard touchdown. Starting quarterback Wyatt Chadwick completed six of 15 passes for 37 yards.

“There are some things that we did pretty well, and I think that we just kind of focus on that,” Munzing said. “Say ‘Hey look, we can do this stuff, we can do that.’ A lot of times what you find, when you go back and watch film, is that it’s not as big of a problem. It’s typically a small thing. They did a great job of exploiting what we were doing wrong.”

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