STANDISH — To be successful in Bonny Eagle’s spread offense, a quarterback has to be quick of mind and quick of feet – and it doesn’t hurt to have a strong arm. Somebody like Nate Doehler, who led the Scots to Class A state titles in 2007 and ’08, and won the Fitzpatrick Trophy as the state’s best senior player.
Zach Dubiel, a junior, the current quarterback, watched Doehler play while growing up and dreamed of being just like him in high school.
Like Doehler, Dubiel will lead his team into a state championship game.
Bonny Eagle (9-1), the Western Class A champion, will play Cheverus (10-0), the Eastern Maine winner, for the Gold Ball at 11:06 a.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
It will be the first of three state championship games Saturday at Fitzpatrick, with Bucksport and Oak Hill meeting in Class D at 2:36 p.m., and Winslow meeting Leavitt in Class C at 6:06.
Bonny Eagle and Cheverus have been the dominant powers in Class A, combining to win six of the last nine state championships.
“Once I got into high school, I knew I wanted to do what Nate Doehler did,” said Dubiel. “Hopefully on Saturday I will be part of a state championship.”
Dubiel got a taste of playing quarterback as a sophomore.
“Zach started all last year on defense for us and played two games at quarterback,” said Coach Kevin Cooper. “He led us to a win against Sanford and kept us in the game against Cheverus, so we had some experience with him as a starter.”
Cooper was further convinced Dubiel was the person for the job while watching him play basketball last winter.
Dubiel, a guard, totaled eight 3-pointers in three games as the Scots advanced to the Western Class A final.
“Zach played his best in the tournament,” said Cooper. “When he gets in big games, he rises to the top. That’s what you want in a quarterback. It’s pretty clear that after watching Zach in football and basketball that he’s a winner.
“He makes plays that help you win football games. He doesn’t always look pretty throwing it but he always seems to get the job done. He can really zing the ball when he wants to. The touchdown pass to Joe Bissonnette against Thornton in the regional final was 40 yards in the air and right on the money.”
In Bonny Eagle’s offense, the quarterback has to make quick decisions based on what the defense is doing. While a lot of plays are pre-determined, there are also reads that a quarterback has to make.
Dubiel has worked to get to where he is and acknowledges he has a lot more work to do before next season.
“I have a better understanding of the offense than I did last season. I’m trying to be the best I can be,” said Dubiel. “Hopefully by my senior year I’ll be considered one of the best quarterbacks in the state.”
A natural runner who played halfback and wide receiver before moving to quarterback, Dubiel worked on his passing last summer and has continued to do so.
Phil Bourassa, the Scots’ boys’ basketball coach and a Fitzpatrick Trophy winner as a Biddeford quarterback in 2003, worked with Dubiel last summer.
“We worked on throwing the ball in the pocket, throwing on the move and on footwork,” said Bourassa.
“We worked out together five times. Zach’s always picking my brain to learn more. Team comes first with Zach. He has a good head on his shoulders and there’s no question about his physical ability. He’s tough, smart and a good decision-maker. Zach is tough to bring down.”
At 185 pounds, Dubiel has the power to break tackles and the elusiveness to avoid them.
Against Thornton, the running of Dubiel and halfback Jon Woods carried Bonny Eagle to a 28-13 victory and the regional title.
“I’ve had a lot of support in making me a better quarterback,” said Dubiel. “Coach Cooper has worked with me. We had the seven-on-seven summer passing league.”
There’s no shortage of former quarterbacks who have had a hand in Dubiel’s progress.
Along with Bourassa, Cooper played quarterback for his father, Pete, at Lawrence High, and assistant coach Matt Rollins is a former Bonny Eagle quarterback who plays for the semipro Maine Sabers.
After going 2-6 last season and missing the playoffs, the Scots were determined to return to their customary contending position.
Bonny Eagle won back-to-back state championships in 2004 and ’05 before doing it again in 2007-08.
“We knew we had the talent,” said Dubiel. “Once Jon Woods (transferred from Gorham) we knew we had even more talent. It was a question of working hard every day in practice and putting it all together.
“Last year we didn’t work as hard in practice and it showed in our record. We’ve definitely stepped it up this year. The practices are fun and high energy. We’re getting things done and having a blast.”
Dubiel and Bissonnette, a wide receiver, formed one of the best passing combinations in the region this season.
“Zach has been a great asset for our entire offense,” said Bissonnette. “His passing has improved tremendously.’
Bissonnette said the pair knows each other well enough that he can make a correction on his pass route and Dubiel will make the adjustment.
Offensive tackle Isaiah Reynolds, who protects Dubiel’s blind side, said Dubiel’s running and passing have made a big difference.
“Zach knows the offense and where he has to hit the hole,” he said.
“It’s not easy coming in and playing a position like quarterback in Class A. I think he’s improved a lot from a year ago.”
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at: