BANGOR – Not more than 10 minutes after the Bangor football team walked off the turf field at Fitzpatrick Stadium following its 35-21 loss to Windham in last year’s Class A state championship game, quarterback Joe Seccareccia made a promise to Coach Mark Hackett.

“Don’t worry, Coach,” he said. “We’ll be back here next year.”

It wasn’t an idle boast.

“They players we had coming back were phenomenal players and we have confidence in ourselves,” Seccareccia said. “Losing a state game is not something you want to do. But we knew what it was like to play in one, and we were ready for the challenge to get back to it.”

At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Bangor (10-1) will play Cheverus (11-0) in Portland for the state title.

“Most people don’t get a second chance,” said Nic Cota, a junior linebacker/tight end. “We want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Last season the Rams didn’t do that.

“None of us had been there before,” said Josiah Hartley, a 215-pound tailback and one of the five returning starters. “We had a lot of jitters and we made too many mistakes.”

In last year’s final, Bangor took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter, only to have Windham take control in the second half and roll to its first state title.

“Defensively, we didn’t play too well in the second half,” Seccareccia said.

The Bangor players have learned.

“The learning experience I got is you can’t take anything for granted,” Cota said. “Last year we played one half.”

This Saturday, the Rams intend to play the full 48 minutes. To remind themselves, each Bangor player wears a “48” sticker on his helmet.

“We want to finish the game and be proud of ourselves knowing we played the entire 48 minutes of the game,” Seccareccia said.

The Rams’ previous experience in the title game could give them an advantage.

“For the guys who played last year, we’ve been here before so we know what it feels like,” Cota said. “Obviously we were on the losing side, but I think it just gives us a little edge. Cheverus is a great ball team. They’re definitely in a better conference than us and they’re 11-0. But they’re our enemy.”

“We’re a different ball club this year but we tried to get back to where we were,” Hartley said. “When we come into this, we just need to be mentally prepared and show up to play.”

Last Saturday, the entire team traveled to Portland and saw the Stags win a 35-34 thriller against Deering in the Western Class A final.

“We went down and we watched them,” Hartley said. “I think we match up pretty well. I think it’s going to be a really exciting game. I think it’s going to be competitive and a lot of fun.”

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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