Portland (10-0) vs. Thornton Academy (9-1), 11:06 a.m.

When Portland has the ball

PORTLAND: The Bulldogs like to run out of the I or split-back formations. The workhorse has been Joe Esposito, who finished second in Class A North with 1,057 rushing yards. He assumed the rushing load when George Chaison-Lapine was injured in the fifth game of the season. Chaison-Lapine has returned and should help Esposito with the running chores. He has rushed for 800 yards. Fullback Nick Archambault is another running threat for the Bulldogs. Quarterback Issiah Bachelder has improved as the season has progressed. He likes to throw to his backs. Jake Knop is a top receiver, along with Jake Hunnewell. Kicker John Williams is a weapon for the Bulldogs.

THORNTON ACADEMY: The Thornton defense is an aggressive, hard-hitting unit. Linebackers Owen Elliott and Michael Laverriere are key players in the middle, while defensive end Rome Pura is strong against the run and pressuring the quarterback. Greg Ruff has emerged as a key player at defensive back. Cam Cadorette is another player in the secondary who has improved during the season. Defensive tackle Elijah Ayotte is a strong run-stopper.

When Thornton has the ball

THORNTON ACADEMY: The Golden Trojans run out of the shotgun, with quarterback Austin McCrum and Ruff, a halfback. Ruff is one of the top runners in the state, combining breakaway speed and power. He has rushed for 1,374 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns. McCrum has passed for 1,803 yards and 20 TDs, and has rushed for 286 yards and three TDs. Laverriere, another running threat, is strong in short-yardage situations. Corey Hart and Ben Lambert are both big-play receivers. Hart has 32 catches for 721 yards and eight TDs; Lambert has 41 catches for 692 yards and eight TDs. Cadorette is also an excellent kicker.

PORTLAND: The Bulldogs arguably have the best defense in the state, but they will be tested in this one. They’re smart and get to the ball quickly. Esposito at linebacker is adept at making defensive changes. He led Class A North in tackles with 95. Archambault, a linebacker, is another hard-nosed defender who finished second on the team in tackles with 90. Defensive ends Hunnewell and Joe Fusco have the ability to control a game. Strong safety Dylan Bolduc is strong in pass coverage, with the ability to come up and make big hits. He is outstanding on special teams.


Marshwood (9-2) vs. Brunswick (9-1), 6:06 p.m.

When Brunswick has the ball

BRUNSWICK: The Dragons primarily use a wing-T formation but will run occasionally from the I-formation. Brunswick’s chief weapon is fullback Will Bessey, who has scored 20 touchdowns and has rushed for 1,522 yards. But Bessey pulled a hamstring in the regional final win over Brewer and likely won’t be at 100 percent. Running backs Jesse Devereaux, Ben Palazay and Hunter Garrett have filled in the gaps when Bessey has been slowed. Quarterback Thomas Hanson has thrown for 968 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has a pair of tall receivers in Jackson Gordon and Corbin Teel, both of whom are at least 6-foot-4.

MARSHWOOD: The Hawks are playing their best defense of the season, coming off a 48-22 win over Falmouth in the regional final. The Hawks have an aggressive style and get to the ball quickly. Linebacker Zach Mitchell is one of the top players in Class B and a four-year starter on defense. Nick Tice and Zach Doyon have been outstanding at linebacker, while the return of Ryan O’Neil has bolstered the secondary.

When Marshwood has the ball

MARSHWOOD: The Hawks are exclusively a wing-T team. Marshwood keeps defenses on their toes by running sweeps, counters and play-action passes. Doyon has rushed for 1,745 yards and has scored 28 touchdowns as the featured back. He has been complemented by fellow backs Kyle Glidden, Justin Stacy, Joe Taran and Holden Jackman, along with quarterback Cole McDaniel. McDaniel, who has played well in his first season as a starter, likes to throw to his backs, along with tight end/wide receiver Tice and wide receiver Jack Spear. The offensive line struggled early in the season, but its blocking has come on strong of late.

BRUNSWICK: The Brunswick defense comes into the game on a high note, having blanked Brewer 49-0 in the regional final. Brunswick is led by defensive end Jaznel Burns and linebackers Andrew Cilia and Devereaux. “We’re a year older, wiser and more mature. The juniors and seniors have set the example,” said Dragons Coach Dan Cooper.


Yarmouth (11-0) vs. Winslow (10-0), 2:36 p.m.

When Yarmouth has the ball

YARMOUTH: Yarmouth has a balanced running attack. Three players rushed for at least 550 yards during the season: Cody Cook (653 yards), Lucas Uhl (637) and Jack Snyder (552). However, Cook suffered a knee injury in the regional final against Wells and might not play Saturday. Remi LeBlanc will take his place if Cook can’t go. Quarterback John Thoma has thrown for 1,341 yards with a 58 percent completion rate. His favorite targets have been Noah Colby-George, Jack Venden, Noah Eckersley-Ray and Andrew Kinsman. Yarmouth will run out of various formations, but favor the wing-T and pistol. The Clippers have shown good balance, running for 2,200 yards and passing for 1,341.

WINSLOW: Winslow allowed only 27 points during the regular season. The Black Raiders returned eight starters on defense from last season. Linebacker Alex Clark is playing in his fourth state championship football game. He and linebacker Ken Rikard form a strong duo against the run. Luke Fredette is a three-year starter at defensive end, while Patrick Hopkins is the leading tackler.

When Winslow has the ball

WINSLOW: The Black Raiders will run out of multiple formations, but often use a one-back set. They prefer the run over the pass, although quarterback Jacob Trask can throw. Trask is a threat running the option. He has rushed for eight touchdowns and passed for 10, and has yet to throw an interception. Tailback Nate St. Amand is the leading rusher with 1,400 yards. He has scored 16 touchdowns. Rikard, a fullback, has gained 600 yards with 12 touchdowns. The Black Raiders were the highest scoring team in Class C North.

YARMOUTH: Linebacker Ricky Tillotson is the team’s leading tackler. Venden, also a linebacker, is the second-leading tackler. Defensive end Joey Fortin ranks third in tackles.

All three games at Fitzpatrick Stadium

— Tom Chard, staff writer