BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL varsity quarterback Christian Jensen (center with ball) has many options when it comes to handing the ball off in the backfield. Ben Palizay, top left, Jesse Devereaux, center, and Hunter Garrett will all be in action tonight as the Dragons host Brewer at 7 p.m. in a battle of 5-0 teams.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL varsity quarterback Christian Jensen (center with ball) has many options when it comes to handing the ball off in the backfield. Ben Palizay, top left, Jesse Devereaux, center, and Hunter Garrett will all be in action tonight as the Dragons host Brewer at 7 p.m. in a battle of 5-0 teams.

BRUNSWICK

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL football players, moving from left to right, Hunter Garrett, Ben Palizay, Christian Jensen and Jesse Devereaux will lead the Dragons offense tonight against Brewer. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. at Brunswick High School.

BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL football players, moving from left to right, Hunter Garrett, Ben Palizay, Christian Jensen and Jesse Devereaux will lead the Dragons offense tonight against Brewer. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. at Brunswick High School.

It’s not quite Halloween, but the Brunswick High School football team is cursed.

Despite recent success, including two straight trips to the Class B North State Championship game in Portland, the Dragons can’t seem to get through this week.

The past three seasons, coach Dan Cooper’s squad has lost on Week 6. All three times, they’ve been undefeated and all three times the season has been a winning success — there’s just something about this week.

This campaign, the Week 6 opponent is a familiar one. After handing Brunswick its only regular season loss last fall and then getting blown out by the Dragons in the playoffs, Brewer comes back to Brunswick with revenge in mind.

Both teams enter this contest with 5-0 records, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. tonight.

The good news for Cooper? He’s got more offensive weapons than ever to combat the Witches and the curse.

Dual threat

Not since Ezra Drehobl in 2010 has Cooper had a versatile quarterback like Christian Jensen. The senior, who is currently ranked the No. 1 quarterback in Maine according to MaxPreps.com, hadn’t even played quarterback in high school before he took over the reigns this season. He’s a run-first quarterback, but with every game this season, the passing has gotten better.

“When I came into this year, my arm was pretty weak,” Jensen said. “It was a big transition for me, but the more and more I’ve been passing the ball, it’s just been getting stronger — it’s coming along pretty well.”

“His arm’s getting stronger,” Cooper said. “He’s passing it on time, hitting them in stride and he’s really been a weapon.”

In the home-opener against Lawrence on Sept. 12, Jensen threw just five passes — four of them were completions and two went for touchdowns. In fact, half of his completions this season are touchdowns.

It’s a run-first offense, but when Cooper dials up a pass play, the Dragons don’t skip a beat.

“I definitely like to use my legs a lot,” Jensen said. “It’s one of my better attributes. But, I’m definitely not shy about throwing the ball, especially with great targets like Jackson Gordon and Corban Teel, who are over 6- feet tall. They make it really easy for me.”

Teel and Gordon have led the way in the receiving game, combining for 233 yards and six touchdowns in the air. Things get particularly dangerous in the red zone, where the height of the two wide-outs seems to always comes into play.

If nothing’s there, Jensen might take off or toss a check-down to Ben Palizay out of the backfield.

“I think having (Christian) Jensen being able to run it out of the backfield is another dimension,” senior running back Jesse Devereaux said.

Devereaux came to life in the playoffs last season following an injury to star running back Will Bessey, and he said this is the most explosive team he’s been on. It was a very productive offense under pocket-passer Thomas Hanson in 2015, but Jensen is simply a pain for defenses.

“I’ve got four skilled guys and two great receivers,” Cooper said. “We just want to spread the ball around and pretty much take what they’re giving us. When you’ve got a guy like Christian (Jensen), I don’t think they can take it all away.”

Handing it off

As all of Brunswick’s opponents this season can attest to, Jensen is just the beginning of the rushing attack.

Devereaux leads a three stable backfield that has amassed almost 1,500 yards rushing and scored 20 touchdowns. On top of that, Jensen has rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

Cooper’s offensive schemes often disguise the ball carrier, but most of the time, it doesn’t matter who it is.

“It’s awesome,” Jensen said of all the weapons. “The teams on defense are always on their heels because they never know who’s going to get the ball. With our fakes, you can never tell who’s going to get the ball. It’s really awesome to have three different weapons in the backfield that can bust one out for a long touchdown.”

Hunter Garrett, who is leading the team with 701 yards and eight touchdowns, said the reason the system works is everyone is on the same page — in an offense with so many moving parts (11 different players touched the ball on offense in the Lawrence game) and a number of players that expect the ball, attitude is everything.

“There’s not really much of a pattern,” Garrett said of the play-calling. “If someone plays good or has a good play, coach will share the load. The players are really good about sharing the load in the huddle and trying to decide who’s going to get the ball.”

“You just can’t get selfish and worry about stats,” Palizay said. “It’s more of a team effort. If one of us has a good play and keeps getting the ball, just keep rewarding him. Total team effort.”

As it turns out, the stats are pretty good.

Devereaux has notched five touchdowns on 458 yards, while Palizay has scored seven times and rushed for 324. All three backs are also a threat in the passing game, with Palizay catching a pair of touchdowns on 48 yards receiving. In the 58-14 blowout of Cony on Sept. 19, Devereaux even loaded up and threw a 58-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.

Talk about options.

“Hunter’s (Garrett) got speed of out the back that’s unmatched, Ben’s (Palizay) got speed that’s unmatched. I’m kind of slow, but I’m fine in the holes,” Devereaux joked. “We’ve just got four guys who all can run the ball successfully and that’s something we haven’t had.”

The Witches

The last time Brewer was on Brunswick’s home field, it was an ugly game in more ways than one. The scoreboard eventually read 49-0 in favor of the Dragons, but it was also a very physical game, with Bessey going down with an injury. Bessey ran just one time in the state final loss to Marshwood.

This time, as Brunswick sits atop the Class B North standings, Cooper and his players don’t expect tonight to be any different.

“It’s going to be a war,” Cooper said. “This is the for the number 1 seed in the conference — home field throughout the playoffs. They’re a big, physical team. A couple of those kids are extra motivated because they didn’t get to play in that championship game last year. They’re a good football team. It’s going to be a very competitive game.”

“It’s definitely going to get chippy,” Palizay said. “It’s going to be a tough-fought battle between the two teams. We don’t like each other.”

After a relatively untested start to the season, noise started to pick up on Sept. 23 when Brunswick squared off with also-undefeated Messalonskee in Oakland — the Dragons cruised to a 42-0 win. Then it was on to Skowhegan, where Jensen and company put up 65 points and handed the Indians their second straight loss after falling to the Witches the week before.

Brewer might just be the first true test for Brunswick this season, but even with an undefeated season on the line and even with the “Week 6 curse” looming, the preparation isn’t any different.

“We can never really get over that hump,” Jensen said. “This year, we’ve been really stressing that we’ve got to keep our heads into it and not panic if things don’t go our way.”

“We go into every game with the same mentality,” Devereaux said. “And that’s why we’re going to come out and smash your mouth. We’re going to not let you touch us. We’ve all been there. All of us have played in big games, so nothing’s changing.”

In the grand scheme of things, tonight’s game only means so much — Brunswick will go to the playoffs and it will get another chance at a state championship regardless of the result.

For Cooper and his upperclassmen, though, it means much more. They crave an undefeated season, and the curse is getting old.

They also want the easiest road back to Portland.

“These kids, they’re chasing history,” Cooper said. “We’ve lost in week 6 three years in a row and they’ve been on two of those teams. It seems like there’s a week 6 curse around Brunswick. We’re looking to end that, but more importantly we’re looking to get that number 1 seed for the playoffs.”


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