Waterville football coach Isaac LeBlanc talks with players during a practice Wednesday at Colby College in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

SKOWHEGAN — And then there were three.

After 10 weeks, only a triad of central Maine football teams remain as the season’s penultimate weekend approaches. There’s something on the line for all three, with one playing in a state title game, one playing in a regional final and another playing in a statewide semifinal.

The first batch of state champions will be crowned Saturday, with two eight-man finals at Fuller Field in Augusta. Waterville (6-3) and Yarmouth (9-1) will kick off the Large School game at 11 a.m., while Old Orchard Beach (8-2) and Orono (7-3) decide the Small School crown at 2:30 p.m.

On Friday, two teams will play for state championship berths. No. 2 Skowhegan (8-2) will face No. 4 Falmouth (7-3) in the Class B North title game at 7 p.m. at Lewiston High School. No. 4 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale (6-3) will play at No. 1 Foxcroft (8-1) in a Class D semifinal game.

Skowhegan is fresh off a 66-48 thriller against Lawrence in a Nov. 4 regional semifinal game. The River Hawks scored touchdowns on seven of nine offensive possessions after turning in seven-point efforts against Thornton Academy and Windham in the previous two weeks.

“I really think it was putting those two bad weeks behind us that put us ahead of everybody else,” said Skowhegan’s Hunter McEwen. “We didn’t play well against (Thornton), and we didn’t play well against Windham, but we came out these last two games and showed that we’re back; we’re not just a fraud team.”


Lawrence was able to keep pace with Skowhegan thanks to a strong showing from Parker Higgins (235 rushing yards) on the ground. Falmouth will look to do the same with a speedy, physical backfield in Indi Backman and Finn Caxton-Smith.

Lawrence’s Gavin Lunt (83) makes a touchdown reception as he is defended by Skowhegan’s Brandon Wyman (20) and Tyler Annis (9) during a Class B North football semifinal game last weekend in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Falmouth also has the ability to match Skowhegan in size — something that few opponents have done this fall.

In 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior Will Gale, the Navigators have one of the Pine Tree Conference’s most dominant lineman; at 6-4, 295 pounds, Matt Phillips has buoyed Falmouth in the trenches lately after missing the first seven weeks of the season.

“Looking at where they are now compared to Week 1, they’ve really developed a lot,” said Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby said of Falmouth. “They’ve got good speed, and they’ve got beef up front. … If we can shut down the quick lane and make them hesitate, we should be able to flow defensively, but if we give them that lane, they’re going to hit it.”

In Class D, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale is looking to finally break through against Foxcroft, which has beaten it at the wire in each of the past two encounters. The Ponies denied the Ramblers 19-16 in last year’s state title game, then won this year’s season-opening rematch 28-27 in overtime. Foxcroft also claimed a 24-14 win in the 2021 regular season.

In the Week 1 matchup this season, the Ramblers enjoyed sone success on offense, a rare accomplishment in Class D. No other team has scored more than 14 against Foxcroft, which has won 19 of 20 games since the start of last season.


Winthrop’s Robby Feeney pulls away from Oak Hill defenders Hunter Drew and Maverick Swan during an Oct. 22 game in Wales. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“To go the whole distance, we knew at some point that we’d have to play them again,” said Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale head coach Dave St. Hilaire. “We know we can play with them, obviously; we’ve shown that three times. It’s like the old Al Davis saying: ‘You don’t have to be great all the time; you just have to be great in the moment.’”

Earning a semifinal win over Foxcroft will mean stopping versatile running back Caden Crocker, whom St. Hilaire called the league’s top player. It will also require the Ramblers to be more disciplined in regards to penalties, which has haunted them in key games this season.

“We’ve been telling our kids, ‘look, it’s not going to take a perfect game to beat them, but we’re going to have to play very, very well,” St. Hilaire said. “We can’t have penalties, we can’t turn the ball over, and we’ve got to do what we can to make sure we minimize the big plays.”

In the eight-man ranks, Waterville is back in a state final for a second straight season. Cheverus pounded the Purple Panthers 56-0 in last year’s Large School final. Waterville won’t be quite as overmatched Saturday as it was against the Stags, who returned to 11-man football this season, but head coach Isaac LeBlanc knows earning a victory will still take a special effort.

“(We’re going to need) a tremendous team effort on both sides of the ball,” LeBlanc said. “They’re physical, they’re tough, they’re well-coached, and they have so many good players. They’re a smashmouth football team, and we’ve got to be ready physically if we’re going to be ready for that.”

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