KENNEBUNK — A week ago quarterback Nick Emmons and his Kennebunk High teammates needed some last-second heroics against Westbrook to keep their unbeaten season alive.
There was no such drama Saturday. Instead the end of the game was the time for dumping water on longtime Coach Joe Rafferty and thoroughly enjoying the rewards of a dominating 41-14 victory against Marshwood in the Western Class B final.
Top-ranked Kennebunk built a 26-0 halftime lead and stretched it to 34-0 on Emmons’ third touchdown run of the game. Emmons finished with 148 rushing yards on 33 carries and also completed 8 of 13 passes for 182 yards and a score.
Kennebunk (11-0) won its first Western title since 1998 and will seek its first state title since 1991 when it plays Cony on Friday night at the University of Maine.
“It feels great. We’ve been working for this all year. Really since fourth grade. Today we just worked hard, kept our poise and got the win,” Emmons said.
“I wanted to show senior leadership right off the bat and I think me working as hard as I could showed everyone that we could do it and they had to do it, too,” Emmons said.
Running back Nicco DeLorenzo scored twice — on his first and last carries of the game.
DeLorenzo’s 5-yarder capped a game-opening, tone-setting 11-play drive that featured eight runs by Emmons.
DeLorenzo’s second score was a 43-yard burst up the middle with 1:12 to play that closed the scoring.
In between he distinguished himself with his blocking, combining with Chris Broadhead on a key forced fumble that set up Kennebunk’s second score in the first quarter, and a willingness to take a repeated pounding on read-option plays where Emmons kept the ball.
“I think I only carried it about eight times and I got hit more than anybody,” DeLorenzo quipped.
Actually he had 14 carries for 103 yards.
The Rams’ offensive line of, from left to right, tackle Shane Normandeau, guard Austin Cressey, center Jake Boothby, guard Ben Bath and 6-foot-5, 245-pound sophomore tackle Travon Bradford consistently won the battle up front against a third-seeded Marshwood defense that dominated York the previous week.
“We didn’t get a stop until the fourth quarter,” Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko said. “On defense you have to be real disciplined (against the option) and I’m guessing we weren’t. You’ve got to have somebody on quarterback and somebody on pitch all the time and we didn’t do a good job on either.”
Kennebunk forced four turnovers. The most important was probably early in the third quarter.
Marshwood had taken the second-half kickoff and moved crisply down the field.
On second-and-5 from the Kennebunk 9, Marshwood quarterback Luc Blanchette had to recover his own fumbled snap. On the next play he was belted by the blitzing Broadhead and his wobbly pass was intercepted in the end zone by Larson Coppinger.
On the ensuing possession, Emmons converted a third-and-10 from his 31 with a well-thrown deep ball to Coppinger for 44 yards. Three plays later Emmons was taking it into the end zone from the 7.
Coppinger intercepted another pass and was also the pivot person on a hook-and-ladder reception that set up Kennebunk’s late first-half touchdown.
Running a quick out, Coppinger caught Emmons’ pass, then lateraled to Liam Studley for an additional 28 yards.
“That’s a play that you run since Pee Wee, youth football. Nick just got the ball in the hole there and we executed it well. The coaches did a great job with the play calls; more aggressive than last week and that’s really what we need. Just get after it and get aggressive,” Coppinger said.
On the next play Emmons lofted a beautiful fade in the corner to the 6-foot-4 Austin Sandler with 44 seconds left in the second quarter.
“I’m so excited for the kids. It’s been a great group of seniors and they’ve been talking about a championship since sixth or seventh grade and here they are today and they got it. Now we just have to go see if we can get the rest of it done,” Rafferty said.
Marshwood’s scores came on a 13-yard run by Brett Gerry (14 carries, 77 yards) and 10-yard pass from Blanchette (8 of 20, 123 yards) to hard-working sophomore Ryan O’Neil (5 catches, 78 yards).
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: SteveCCraig