If you’re a member of one of the teams still alive, this is what you hoped for when practice began in August.

It’s regional final time in high school football – with berths in the state championship games at stake.

Based on the regular season, several regional finals have the potential to be decided late in the fourth quarter or even overtime. Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s games:

CLASS A NORTH

No. 2 Windham (7-2) at No. 1 Portland (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday

Portland edged Windham 10-3 on Sept. 18. Dylan Bolduc’s 97-yard interception return with less than a second remaining in the first half gave the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead. The Bulldogs added a 41-yard John Williams field goal in the third quarter.

Windham outgained Portland 234 yards to 115. In last week’s semifinals, Windham looked impressive in shutting out Cheverus, 28-0. As expected, Portland overwhelmed Bangor, 56-7.

The rematch could turn into another defensive battle or offenses could prevail. Anything could happen when these teams play.

“I think we’re one of the most physical teams in the state,” said Portland two-way tackle Charlie Kovarik. “Windham is just as physical.”

Windham is in the regional final for a second straight year, which is noteworthy considering the Eagles’ rash of injuries this fall.

Windham lost Dylan Koza, a running back/defensive back, for the season with a knee injury in the first game. Eric Webb, a wide receiver/defensive back, was lost at the end of the Portland game. The Eagles have had other injuries but some of those players have returned.

Portland is led by Joe Esposito, the Class A North’s Player of the Year. Esposito and George Chaison-Lapine form a strong running combination. Kyle Houser and Griffin Jacobson have been Windham’s top runners.

“It should be a good physical matchup,” said Windham Coach Matt Perkins.

CLASS A SOUTH

No. 3 Bonny Eagle (7-3) at No. 1 Thornton Academy (8-1), 1 p.m. Saturday

The Golden Trojans jumped to a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter en route to a 45-21 win over Bonny Eagle on Oct. 24.

This is the third straight year the Golden Trojans and Scots have met for the regional title. Two years ago Bonny Eagle won; last year it was Thornton. Both went on to win state championships the following week.

Thornton has a diversified offense with the passing of quarterback Austin McCrum, and the running of Greg Ruff and Michael Laverriere. McCrum’s favorite receivers are Ben Lambert and Corey Hart.

Bonny Eagle started slowly, dropping its first two games by a combined five points. The Scots then rebounded with five straight wins, including a 33-13 victory over Windham.

Bonny Eagle has several offensive threats with quarterback Zack Brannon, and receivers Cam Theberge, Ben Autry and Eben Cram standing out. Running backs Nick Clark and Nick Thorne are capable of breaking a long one at any time. Defensively, both teams are known for aggressive styles.

CLASS B NORTH

No. 3 Brewer (9-1) at No. 1 Brunswick (8-1), 7 p.m. Friday

On Oct. 9, the Witches beat Brunswick 34-27 in Brewer to hand the Dragons their only loss. Quarterback Logan Rogerson and a dominant line led the Witches to victory. Brunswick running star Will Bessey, who was ill that evening, was knocked out of the game on the first play of the second half.

Brewer has suspended two starting linemen for this game for being in violation of the school’s code of conduct.

Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper said his team hasn’t changed much since their first meeting, other than the Dragons are getting more contributions from others on the roster. Jesse Devereaux, a running back/linebacker; Jackson Gordon, a wide receiver/defensive end; Corban Teel, a tight end/defensive end and Ben Palazay, a running back/defensive back have made key contributions.

“We have to be better blocking up front,” said Cooper. “The kids have been preparing for this. We’re ready to go.”

Brunswick is playing in its third straight regional final. The Dragons lost to Cony two years ago and beat Lawrence last season.

CLASS B SOUTH

No. 3 Marshwood (8-2) at No. 1 Falmouth (9-1), 12:30 p.m. Saturday

Falmouth beat Marshwood 22-20 in overtime on Oct. 16. With their offense sputtering during the game, the Yachtsmen moved running back Connor Aube to quarterback in the Wildcat formation in the second half. He scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game with 1:22 left in regulation, then scored in overtime. Falmouth faked the extra-point kick and ran it in for another 2-point conversion.

Marshwood scored in overtime but its 2-point conversion was stopped. Aube is one of the top running backs in the state and someone Marshwood will have to contain if it hopes to play in a second straight state final. Conversely, Falmouth will have to contain Zach Doyon of the Hawks.

“They’re two of the best backs in the league,” said Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko.

“I don’t think you could get two more evenly matched teams. Both defenses played well last time. It should be another exciting game.”

CLASS C SOUTH

No. 3 Wells (8-2) at No. 1 Yarmouth (10-0), 12:30 p.m. Saturday

This is another game that could come down to the last few seconds if their regular-season game is an indicator. On Oct. 2, Yarmouth held off Wells, 16-15. A Wells fumble with just over six minutes remaining provided the impetus for Yarmouth’s winning drive. But it didn’t come easy for the Clippers, who needed four plays from the 2-yard line to score the tying touchdown. Andrew Beatty’s point after was the difference. Yarmouth has a lot of talent on offense with quarterback John Thoma, and running backs Jack Snyder and Cody Cook.

“Yarmouth is a very explosive team,” said Wells Coach Tim Roche.

Wells’ top runners are Reid Chase, Evan Whitten, Riley Dempsey and Nick Hanson. Wells doesn’t throw much, but when it does wide receiver Jordan Cluff is a top target.

“I didn’t know what to expect when the season began but I knew we had some good athletes,” Roche said. “We’ve come a long way. At this point of the season we’re no longer a young team.”

In other regional finals, No. 2 Winslow (9-0) plays at No. 1 Old Town (9-0) Friday at 7 p.m. in Class C North; No. 3 Lisbon (7-2) plays at No. 1 Oak Hill (9-0) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Class D South; and No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy (7-2) plays at No. 1 Maine Central Insitute (9-0) Friday at 7 p.m. in Class D North.

JOE ESPOSITO tied a Portland High record by scoring six touchdowns last week in a semifinal playoff game against Bangor. Esposito tied a record more than a century old. William Murphy and James McBrady each scored six touchdowns in a game – Murphy in 1908 and McBrady in 1909.

Back when Murphy and McBrady were crossing the goal line, touchdowns were worth only five points, said Portland High historian Peter Gribbin. “Around the 1912 and 1913 seasons, they became six points.”

Earlier this season, Esposito scored five touchdowns against Lewiston.

The last time Portland had a 9-0 record was during the 2005 season, when the Bulldogs eventually lost to Bonny Eagle in the semifinals. In 2002, the season the Bulldogs won the state title, they finished with a 12-0 record, going 8-0 in the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs.

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.