READFIELD – There’s one word that fuels the Maranacook football team in the 2022 eight man small school playoffs.

“Revenge,” Maranacook running back Owen Dunn said. “We’re going for states and we’re on a roll.”

The Black Bears took another step in their revenge tour Friday night, beating Sacopee Valley 28-8 at Ricky Gibson Field of Dreams. Maranacook’s aim is a return to the state title game, which the Black Bears dropped 34-30 to Dexter last season.

Maranacook (6-2) moves on to the semifinals, and will host Dirigo (6-2), which beat Boothbay 47-28 in its quarterfinal game, next week. Sacopee Valley ends at 1-7.

Dunn, a junior, led the offensive output for the Black Bears, rushing for 126 yards on eight carries. He scored two touchdowns, a 40-yard run in the second quarter, along with a 10-yard reception from quarterback Kody Goucher in the fourth quarter.

“It felt great,” Dunn said. “I’ve got to thank my linemen, they did all the work today. Can’t go anywhere without them.”

It was the second straight week Maranacook and Sacopee Valley played each other, with the Black Bears picking up a 46-6 win last week in South Hiram. On Friday night, the Black Bears overcame a slow start, not scoring their first points until 3:30 left in the first half. Dunn took an inside handoff and found open field for his 40-yard scoring rush. A Goucher pass to Robbie Vivenzio gave Maranacook an 8-0 lead.


Maranacook’s Owen Dunn celebrates during a 40 yard touchdown run during an eight man football quarterfinal game Friday in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We were just picking each other up (during the slow start), keeping the attitude up,” Dunn said. “Any bad language gets everyone down, we were just keeping it solid and straight up.”

“We knew it’d be a tighter battle,” Maranacook head coach Jordan DeMillo said. “The kids, I love the resiliency I saw tonight, because we did not come out and play well, and we had the resiliency to dig our heels in and kind of make it happen. But we can’t come out next week and play like that against Dirigo.”

Goucher – who finished 6 of 12 for 85 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception – found Travis Lemelin for a 10-yard scoring strike just before halftime to give Maranacook a 14-0 lead.

The Black Bears wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter, when Goucher found Dunn in the flat for a 10-yard touchdown toss. Dunn added the 2-yard conversion run to give Maranacook a 22-0 lead. Goucher added a 1-yard touchdown run on Maranacook’s next possession for its final score.

Maranacook’s defense was the standout group of the game, forcing four turnovers out of the Hawks, including interceptions from Isaiah Churchill and Cobey Dunn. The Black Bears held Sacopee Valley to 138 yards of offense.

Maranacook’s Isaiah Churchill, left, breaks up a pass intended for Sacopee Valley receiver Dylan Capano during an eight man football quarterfinal game Friday in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“I think defense is coming alive,” DeMillo said. “I’m really happy with how the defense is playing right now. If we can just limit the big plays, I think our defense is playing how we want them to play.”

Quarterback Austin Croteau scored the lone touchdown for Sacopee Valley, a 26-yard run in the fourth quarter. Croteau rushed for 83 yards on 10 carries.

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