Three of the four quarterbacks involved in the Class A and B state championship games Saturday never have played in a state final. Luc Blanchette of Marshwood played in one, but not as a quarterback.

In that sense, no one has an advantage.

Two of them, however, have the edge in games played at quarterback over the last two seasons.

Will that make a difference in the biggest game of the season? Does a team with a more experienced quarterback have the edge?

Desmond Leslie of Windham will oppose Austin McCrum of Thornton Academy in the Class A state final; Blanchette will be matched against Tom Hanson of Brunswick in the Class B game.

While that sounds like one-on-one matchups, it’s not. They have teammates whose jobs are to make it easier for them. Still, a strong performance by any of them could go a long way in determining the outcomes.

Cony Coach Robbie Vachon knows what it means to have an experienced quarterback. A year ago, Ben Lucas, the Fitzpatrick Trophy winner, led the Rams to the Class B state title.

“I think it would depend on what style of offense a team runs,” said Vachon. “In the Class B game, both Brunswick and Marshwood are heavy rushing teams so they don’t have to rely on their quarterbacks as much. Unless you’re a spread team where the quarterback is essential, running teams need more experience in the line and backfield.”

Leslie was a varsity rookie when the season began. No one is calling him a rookie now. Hanson, another newcomer, performed as asked, and then some.

McCrum and Blanchette have been two-year starters. McCrum has two Western Maine finals under his belt. Blanchette has been involved in several big games over the last two seasons. As a sophomore he played on defense in the state championship game against Mt. Blue.

Blanchette was named Marshwood’s starter last season and has shown steady progress.

“Luc has worked hard and gotten stronger,” said Coach Alex Rotsko. “Luc was a very good runner when he became our quarterback and has developed into a good passer.”

Leslie, a sophomore, has come a long way in a short time. He led a fourth-quarter comeback against Cheverus in the Eastern Maine title game that would have made Tom Brady proud.

Leslie drove the Eagles 80 yards in 10 plays in the fourth quarter, scored, then rushed for the 2-point conversion to make it a three-point game.

Just over seven minutes later the game was in overtime, and ended when Windham blocked a point-after attempt to win 21-20.

Coach Matt Perkins said Leslie handled crunch time against Cheverus “like a veteran.”

A year ago Leslie was quarterbacking the freshman and junior varsity teams.

“He’s gotten so much experience,” said Perkins. “He’s played in eight regular-season games, two playoffs and two exhibitions.”

Leslie feels well-prepared for the state final.

“I’ve faced a lot of tough teams this season,” he said. “Our team has gotten better and I feel I’ve improved. I’ve dealt with the hype all season.”

Perkins said Leslie is “pretty low key,” which allows him to handle big-game pressure.

Perkins said a lack of playing time might have been a bigger deal years ago for first-year quarterbacks, but with passing leagues, like the seven-on-seven league teams have during the summer, and the various quarterback camps, “quarterbacks get a lot more repetitions,” he said.

Hanson wasn’t Brunswick’s starter in preseason but was given the job when senior Pearson Cost couldn’t get a doctor’s clearance to play after breaking his wrist during the summer. After a slow start, Hanson, the son of basketball coach Todd Hanson, has proven to be a very capable starter.

“I’ve seen quarterbacks win state titles,” said Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper, citing the performance of Jason O’Tash of Massabesic in the 2000 Class A final against Bangor.

“It certainly makes a diffference when you have a gamer. Thomas will do fine. After 10 games he has a wealth of experience. He’s also played in big games as a starting guard in basketball. You can tell he’s a coach’s son. I don’t think he’ll be nervous at all.”

With the Dragons having one of the best running games in the state, Hanson’s main job is to hand off to Will Bessey and Alex Bandouveres.

As the season has gone along and Hanson has become more comfortable, he’s improved as a runner and passer. He threw a touchdown pass to Corban Teel in the Eastern Maine final against Lawrence.

McCrum has the size, at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, that coaches and college recruiters love. He also has a strong and accurate arm.

McCrum is coming off a very strong passing performance against Bonny Eagle in the Western Maine final.

“I think the more experience you have in a quarterback, the better,” said Thornton Coach Kevin Kezal. “They have a better overall understanding of the offense. They’re more experienced in reading defensive coverages.”

While a state championship game certainly carries its share of excitement, once the nerves subside it becomes just like all the other games. Players have to block, tackle, run and catch.

The quarterbacks will be the center of attention. By now the four are accustomed to it.

“Their guy is very good,” said Perkins of McCrum. “But I like our guy. I wouldn’t trade him for anything.”