PORTLAND — It has been a ritual for the Cheverus High football team since halftime of the opener. Lineman Mike Dedian stands before his teammates and gives a motivational speech.

If his remarks could be summarized, they would go something like this: The Stags get no respect and few thought they would have a chance to repeat.

Whatever Dedian is preaching has sunk in. Cheverus (11-0) will play Lawrence (11-0) for the Class A state title at 11:06 a.m. Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

Winner of 23 straight, Cheverus hopes to bring a second straight Gold Ball to its Ocean Avenue campus in Portland.

In the opener against South Portland, the Stags led 17-14 at halftime. That wasn’t enough for Dedian, a guard/defensive tackle and one of the four co-captains.

“I thought we were flat in the first half,” said Dedian, who told his teammates as much and a few more things.

His teammates responded with 42 second-half points.

Now Dedian takes center stage before each game, then again at halftime if he feels the Stags aren’t playing to their potential.

“Mike’s speeches are great,” said two-way tackle Christian Deschenes, also a co-captain. “The rest of the captains might say a word or two but we leave it up to him.”

Dedian doesn’t need much to set him off.

Before the regional final against Thornton Academy, he saw a camera filming by the Golden Trojans’ bench. More interested in them than us, Dedian thought. By halftime he had plenty of fodder. Thornton led Cheverus, 3-0.

Deschenes remembers being irked before a regular-season game against Scarborough.
“Scarborough brings its flag onto the field and plants it. That’s all we needed,” he said.

Dedian backs up his words with strong play. The same with Deschenes. They play side-by-side on the left side of the line as guard and tackle, respectively, and form a talented blocking duo.

On defense they play tackle. Deschenes, a 6-foot-3, 264- pounder, played tight end and defensive end last season. When All-Stater Zach Dulac graduated, Deschenes stepped in at left tackle. The Stags haven’t missed a beat in line play with the pair, and a complementary right side that has Dan Peabody-Harrington at guard and Charlie Ranville at tackle. In the middle of the line, at center, was Tom Sullivan before he was injured. Now it’s Pat Ball.

Of his move to the right in the offensive line, Deschenes said: “It’s a lot easier blocking defensive ends than defensive tackles. Ends are more malleable. Defensive tackles are big and thick.”

While Cheverus was listed as the top team to watch among five in Class A in the Press Herald football preview, it wasn’t a prohibitive favorite, at least not at the start.

Teams like Bonny Eagle, Scarborough, Windham and Thornton Academy also were listed in the top five, and Cheverus had holes to fill because of graduation.

From the first day of preseason, Coach John Wolfgram sent a clear message about focusing on this season and not reveling in last year’s success.

“The last two years have been crazy, but I don’t want to say too much more because we still have one game left,” said Deschenes.

“Coach doesn’t like us talking about last year.”

Asked to assess this season, Dedian said: “Guys have stepped in and done a great job – Cam Olson at quarterback, Brent Green at fullback and Donald Goodrich at halfback in place of the injured Spencer Cooke, and others.”

“I feel we’ve used our weapons very well.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

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Twitter: TomChardPPH