PORTLAND – Spencer Cooke rushed for more than 1,000 yards in Cheverus High’s regular season. But he suffered a broken right fibula in the final minutes of the Stags’ regular-season finale against Deering.

He missed the three victories in the Western Class A playoffs but got into Cheverus’ 49-7 win against Lawrence in the state championship game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

He entered the game at the end of the third quarter and ended up with 16 yards on nine carries.

It might seem insignificant to some, but it wasn’t to the Stags, or Cooke.

“It was very important that he get in the game,” said Stags Coach John Wolfgram. “He’s been a huge part of our program for three years. He’s a team kid, he’s unselfish, he’s a competitor. It was important to us to get him in.”

And Cooke, who walked with a noticeable limp, appreciated it. He admits that he was “probably 60-70 percent,” and wore a brace on a heavily taped right leg.

“All three playoff games I wanted to get in but the leg wasn’t there,” he said. “It still isn’t there. That wasn’t the usual Spencer Cooke out there. But I felt I was letting the team down because I was injured.

“And I wanted to get in there and do something for the team.”

Cooke practiced Thursday and Friday but didn’t take any reps with the first unit.

“I was so happy for him that he got in,” said quarterback Cam Olson. “He was one of the reasons we got here. He showed a lot of guts going in there.”

After the awards ceremony, Cooke and four of his teammates hopped the low chain-link fence and celebrated with the Cheverus student section.

“This is the best feeling in the world,” he said. “It’s what we wanted, the mountaintop.”

DICK DUROST, the executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, pretty much said you can expect the championship tripleheader to continue at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“The question is asked every once in a while,” said Durost of moving the games to a more northern venue.

But with only four football programs north of Bangor — Stearns, Mattanawcook Academy, Old Town and Orono — it doesn’t appear there’s a movement to change the site.

“Nobody likes to travel,” said Durost. “And frankly, the North travels better than the South. This is a great experience for the kids. The fans seem to like it.

“There’s obviously an advantage to having the three games at one place.”

BOTH CHEVERUS Coach John Wolfgram and quarterback Cam Olson said the regular-season schedule prepares them well for state championship games.

The Stags should know. They won their second straight state title Saturday with a convincing victory. A year ago the Stags beat Bangor, 46-8.

“There are no easy Western Maine finals,” said Olson.

The Stags beat Thornton Academy 21-10 in a hard-hitting and well-played regional final a week ago.

At the moment, Western Class A is considerably stronger than Eastern Class A. The West has won the last five Class A state finals. And they haven’t been close.

“We face so many varied offenses in our league that you have to be well-prepared,” said Wolfgram.

HOW’S THIS for a coincidence: Both the Class A and Class C finals had players returning kickoffs for touchdowns for the same yardage (92), in the same quarter (second) and for the same score (28-7).

In the opening game at Fitzpatrick Stadium, Donald Goodrich of Cheverus went 92 yards after Lawrence had scored.

In the Class C game, Anders Overhaug of Yarmouth went the same distance after Bucksport had scored.

Both returns made it 28-7 after the point after.

Goodrich scored his 6:58 before halftime, while Overhaug scored with 8:16 remaining.

KICKOFF WAS still long minutes away and Eric Weinrich’s stomach was knotted. His son, Ben, was about to take the field with his Yarmouth teammates to defend their Class C football title against Bucksport.

And here was dad, a veteran of nearly 20 NHL seasons, admitting he was anxious and getting more so.

“When it’s your child, it just makes it different,” he said.

Weinrich grew up in Gardiner when John Wolfgram was the new football coach in town and interest in football was surging. “I didn’t go to school in Gardiner (he attended North Yarmouth Academy), but my neighborhood friends played football.

“I wanted to play (Pee Wee), but even then I was big for my age and different positions had weight limits. The only thing I could play was the line and I didn’t want to do that.”

In the end, his mother was adamantly opposed to football. Weinrich shrugged. He doesn’t remember exactly why. His father played the game, so he had an ally there. “I think maybe it had something to do with getting hurt.”

So Weinrich stuck with hockey as a boy. Not that hockey players ever get hurt.

“I love football. It’s the American game. With Ben playing, I’ve really gotten into it.”

Ever play touch football with Ben? “Are you kidding? He’s a monster.”

Yarmouth beat Bucksport 41-14 for its second straight Class C title. At some point, Weinrich must have exhaled.

JIM HARTMAN, the coach at Yarmouth, said the Clippers started stressing special teams on the first day of preseason practice back in August.

Quite simply, he told his players special teams will win championships.

They certainly helped Yarmouth win its second title in a row against Bucksport.

A blocked punt by Nathaniel Shields-Auble on Bucksport’s first series led to a 25-yard touchdown by Anders Overhaug on the next play. A 28-yard punt return by Dennis Erving led to another Overhaug touchdown. Then Overhaug returned a kickoff 92 yards for another touchdown.

“We spend a lot of time on special teams,” said Hartman. “We actually worked on that blocked punt quite a bit this week.”

BUCKSPORT COACH Joel Sankey said his team hadn’t seen a back like Overhaug all season. Overhaug scored six touchdowns.

Added Hartman, “I don’t think any team in the state has seen a kid like that.”

Staff Writers Mile Lowe, Tom Chard and Steve Solloway contributed to this report.