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November 17, 2012

Class C football: From trenches, the champion should emerge

By BILL STEWART Kennebec Journal

There was a time when State Championship Saturday usually included the Winslow football team.

The Raiders won Class B state titles in 2000 and 2001. They played for a Gold Ball in 2004 and again in 2006.

Since then?

Nothing.

"It's been a few years," Winslow Coach Mike Siviski said.

Six, to be exact -- but that drought ends Saturday when Winslow returns.

Winslow (10-1) will play Eastern Class C champion Foxcroft Academy (10-1) for the state title at 2:30 p.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

"Everybody knows what's in front of us," Winslow running back Joe Hopkins said. "We're not all jumping around like crazy. We want to get the job done."

The Raiders muscled their way through Western Class C, winning nine consecutive games after a Sept. 8 loss to Dirigo. They did it behind a bruising running game.

Hopkins, Dylan Hapworth and Zach Guptill have combined for a staggering 3,023 yards and 41 touchdowns on 476 carries.

Hopkins led with 1,294 rushing yards. Guptill has rushed for 873 yards and a team-leading 19 touchdowns. Hapworth has rushed for 856 yards and eight touchdowns.

"The linemen will have to pick up their keys and we are going to have to hit the holes they give us," Hopkins said.

Foxcroft Coach Dan White, whose team is in the Class C state game for the fifth time in eight years, knows his Ponies will be challenged.

"Defensively, we can't be flat-footed," he said. "We have to be reactive. We'll try to play our best physical game. We'll have to gang-tackle because their guys won't go down on the first hit. We'll have to swarm to the ball. They have good size and are very aggressive. We're going to need to play our best game. But we certainly feel like we can play with those guys."

The Ponies feature a tough, run-stopping defense. They've held foes to about 100 yards of total offense per game, best in the division.

Furthermore, White said, the defense provided the offense an abundance of short fields that translated into easy touchdowns. The Ponies have scored 143 points in three playoff games. They average 46.7 points a game.

"We have a lot of good team speed that we will try to utilize," White said. "We want to be versatile on offense."

Foxcroft quarterback Hunter Law threw for 685 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season. Standout wide receiver Ryan Rebar had 23 catches for 478 yards and eight touchdowns.

"He's pretty darn good," Siviski said.

Added White: "Ryan Rebar is a difference-maker, whether it's at receiver or on special teams. Law can throw it and he's very athletic, too."

The Ponies also had four players rush for more than 200 yards. Donnie Boyer led the way with 652 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.

"They have a bunch of people who can score on us," Siviski said. "We've watched them on film. They are very sound. Of course, you don't get here without being that way. They have a great offense and defense. They give you a lot of things to think about. We'll try to put our best forward and see what happens."

Staff Writer Bill Stewart can be contacted at 621-5640 or at:

bstewart@central.com





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