Falmouth’s Evan Metivier, left, tackles Skowhegan quarterback Adam Savage after he scores the River Hawks second touchdown in the Class B North football championship Nov. 11 at Lewiston High School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

SKOWHEGAN — Physical, quick and experienced, the Skowhegan football team has found the right formula for success in reaching the Class B state championship game.

Now, to bring home the ultimate prize, the River Hawks will be tasked with taking down a team that looks an awful lot like they do.

Indeed, there are countless similarities between Class B North champion Skowhegan and the Portland team they’ll face at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium. From the players to the schemes to both teams’ abilities to regroup after regular season losing skids, the state final will be one of two teams that mirror one another in many ways.

“You look at them, and they’re similar to us,” Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby said of the Bulldogs. “They’re QB run-heavy, just like we’ve been lately; they’ve got decent size up front, and we’ve got decent size up front; they’re athletic across the board, and so are we. It should be a good matchup.”

One of the biggest similarities between Skowhegan and Portland, as Libby noted, is found in how both teams run their offenses. Although the River Hawks and Bulldogs both have potent athletes at running back and receiver, both offenses start at the quarterback position, where Adam Savage and Kennedy Charles, respectively, lead the way with their feet.

Savage has been nearly unstoppable for Skowhegan (9-2) throughout its playoff run. The 6-foot-7 senior ran for nine scores in the playoffs to lead Skowhegan to wins over Brewer, Lawrence and Falmouth. He’s not bad slinging the ball, either, throwing for 226 yards and four touchdowns against Lawrence in the semifinals.


Charles was no less dominant for B South top-seed Portland (8-3) in its run to the regional title. In the semifinals against Kennebunk, he ran for 292 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-20 victory. The senior then added 203 rushing yards and three scores last week to lead Portland past rival South Portland and into the state title game.

“When you watch film on them, he’s the first thing that jumps out at you immediately,” Libby said of Charles. “He’s the leader there for that offense with his athleticism and what he can do running the ball, and you have to find a way to contain him as best you can.”

Skowhegan’s Hunter McEwen (32) dives for extra yards near the goal line after getting tripped up by Cony’s Dominick Napolitano (6) during a football game Sept. 16 in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The two teams have plenty of similarities in the receiving game as well. Skowhegan has an elite receiver in Tyler Annis and a quick pass-catching back in Quintcey McCray; Portland has a terrific athlete in the slot in Reegan Buck and another standout at the position in Remijo Wani.

Both feature backs, Skowhegan’s Hunter McEwen and Portland’s Andrew Brewer, are tough, physical backs who grind for yardage by pushing around opposing defenders. Those players are also key components of their respective defenses, as are the River Hawks’ Savage and the Bulldogs’ Hunter Temple, who has four interceptions on the season.

“It starts with Savage for them; he’s going to stand out right away just because of how big he is,” said Portland head coach Jason McLeod. “McEwen can do a lot for them with the ball in his hands on offense and on defense as well. Up front, they have a lot of big guys that are physical. They’re tough on the lines.”

The River Hawks’ size is certainly noticeable, both under center with Savage and in the trenches with their burly linemen. Led by brothers Collin and Kyle LePage and fellow senior Brayden Carr, Skowhegan’s line has paved the way for its offense and shut down opponents on defense throughout the season.


Led by seniors Gavin Bennett and Isaak Muse and junior Isaac Alkafaji, Portland has an elite line of its own. The Bulldogs don’t have quite the size that the River Hawks do in the trenches, but that hasn’t stopped the unit from being effective on both sides of the ball throughout their current seven-game winning streak.

“They’re not quite as big as us on the line, but they’ve still got some tough kids there,” Kyle LePage said. “Their quarterback is pretty fast, just like Falmouth’s, and they’ve got a few good wide receivers and a really good tight end. Hopefully, we’ll be able to play our game and come out with a win.”

In beating Falmouth last week, Skowhegan defeated a team that bears many of its own similarities to the product Portland will field Saturday. As LePage noted, the Navigators had an elite running quarterback who also moved over from the backfield in Finn Caxton-Smith, as well as one of the most imposing lines in Class B.

Skowhegan’s Kyle LePage (58) forces a fumble by Gardiner’s Colton Dube (22) on the first play of the first half of a football game Sept. 30 in Skowhegan. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

A similar thing could also be said for Portland, which just defeated a South Portland team with its own dual-threat quarterback in Jaelen Jackson. Although Jackson made some plays against the Bulldogs in the Southern Maine title game, Portland was ultimately able to prevent him from running wild, something McLeod said his team must do again against Savage.

“Those two guys are different players in their own sense, but there’s also a lot of similarities and comparisons between them,” McLeod said of Savage and Jackson. “They’ve both been stars of their teams for multiple years, and they can do things with their feet and throw it. They’re definitely comparable.”

Although Portland is designated as the away team, the Bulldogs will be feeling plenty at home at Fitzpatrick Stadium, their home field. Skowhegan won as the home team away from home a week ago in beating Falmouth at Lewiston High School, and the River Hawks are sure to have an army of fans present hoping to see a 44-year Gold Ball drought end.

“It didn’t work out to be a true neutral site, but we’ll take the home side, and maybe that’ll play into their heads,” Libby said. “The bottom line is that it is what is, and it’s still a football game. We have to go out there and execute.”

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