FALMOUTH — John Fitzsimmons clearly expects his Falmouth High football team to be the underdog Saturday in the Class B South championship game at top-ranked Marshwood.

“We understand that when we pick up the paper Friday all the reporters will have Marshwood winning, which they should,” the Falmouth coach said. “They’re at home, they’re undefeated, that’s a nice edge.”

And the Hawks defeated Falmouth 41-19 on Oct. 7.

But, Fitzsimmons said, all of that can play into his Yachtsmen’s hands: “Nobody expects you to win. It takes a level of attention off the players and you can say, ‘Let’s go surprise them.’ ”

There’s another reason not to overlook Falmouth: This team believes in itself and players believe each other. There’s a family atmosphere, highlighted by brothers who anchor three of Falmouth’s four starting linebacker positions: senior outside backer Josh Allen (a captain who also starts at center), junior inside backer Coleman Allen and sophomore inside backer Shane Allen. Coleman Allen (6-foot, 215 pounds) leads Falmouth with 91 tackles, Josh Allen (5-10, 180) is fourth at 75 and Shane Allen (5-11, 200) is sixth with 54. Their bond helps bring the team together.

“We’re family, this team, we’re all brothers,” said Coleman Allen. “We’ve been playing with each other since we were little, since Pee Wees. We all know each other very well. We’re all very good friends.”

Football is in the family DNA. Their paternal grandfather, Vinnie Allen, has a trophy named after him that’s presented to Portland High’s outstanding player in the annual Thanksgiving Day game with Deering.

They’re all linebackers, said Josh Allen, because “we’re Allens. We hit hard.”

They all hunt, fish, ride four-wheelers and thrive in the outdoors, looking for the biggest mud pits they can find. “We go and get things stuck out behind the house,” said Josh Allen.

They thrive on competition, on the field and within the family.

“The best part is when we have practices and they have to go against each other,” said Fitzsimmons. “There’s a little extra competitiveness with brothers going against brothers. We’ll be doing drills, blocking against each other, and some of the other players will call out for the Allen boys to go against each other.”

As linebackers in Falmouth’s 4-4 defense – Shane Coleman will move to nose guard when Falmouth switches to a 5-3 – know their roles. “If the ball’s coming up the middle, it’s on us,” said Josh Allen.

While all three play hockey, this is the first time they’ve been on the same football team.

“It’s a neat dynamic,” said Josh Allen. “You know your brothers moreso than you know your friends. You can kind of expect who they are and what they do, in terms of their abilities. So it’s different than just playing with friends. I feel there’s more trust with them than most. And there’s a lot of good inside jokes you can rip on them later.”

And rip they do, especially at the dinner table if one of the three made a mistake on the field.

“We can give each other a lot of (grief),” said Coleman Allen. “But in the end it’s all a lot of love and we want each other to get better.”

“Sometimes,” said Shane Allen, “it’s harsh love.”

On the field they talk to each other constantly about the game situation and what to expect, and how to get better.

“There’s no question they are protective of each other in the sense of watching what happens to each other,” said Fitzsimmons. “They cover for each other. It’s a very tight family. They’ll be the first to tease each other, the first to hit each other in a drill. In the end you clearly know they’re family and they will watch out for each other.”

And they look up to each other. “I do look up to both of them because they’re both better than me,” said Shane Allen, drawing laughter from his brothers. “I learn off both of them.”

They clearly take their roles as defensive leaders seriously. Their goal is simple – get Falmouth to a football state championship game for the first time.

“We’ve been playing football together for a long time,” said Josh Allen. “And it would be great to see it go further.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH