ORONO — Three years.

That’s how long Brunswick’s Class B football state championship was in the making.

After losing in the state championship game each of the previous two years, Brunswick was not going to be denied again. The Dragons completed an undefeated season by overpowering previously unbeaten Kennebunk 28-6 Friday night at Alfond Stadium.

It’s Brunswick’s first championship since 1963 – before the Maine Principals’ Association began playing championship games – and was forged by defeats the last two years against Marshwood. Forty-five minutes after the game, Brunswick’s players, coaches and fans were still mingling on the field, holding the Gold Ball and posing for photos.

“It means the world,” said Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper. “It’s been a three-year quest, really. They have busted their humps for three years. … This whole community, the town, the kids. … We’re so proud.”

Brunswick finished 11-0, as senior Ben Palizay scored two touchdowns, the first and last. He jump-started the Dragons by returning the opening kickoff 70 yards, setting up his 1-yard touchdown run just 1:13 into the game. Then he clinched the title with a 3-yard sweep around left end for a touchdown with 3:17 remaining.


“It’s a great feeling,” said Palizay. “Twenty-one seniors … probably never going to come through with a class like that again. It’s just a great feeling.”

Brunswick’s defensive line dominated, with a combination of size and speed that the Rams hadn’t seen before. Kennebunk had just 14 yards of offense in the first half, and while the Rams moved the ball better in the final two quarters, they could not break through.

Three times in the third quarter, Kennebunk drove inside the Brunswick 40, only to be stopped on downs each time as it failed to cut into its 22-6 halftime deficit.

“That’s a great defensive team,” said Kennebunk Coach Joe Rafferty, who has brought his team to four state championship games but has lost twice in the last four years. “We just didn’t get anything going offensively. They were all over us.”

Defensive ends Jaznel Burns and Jackson Gordon disrupted anything the Rams tried to do, with Gordon batting down passes and Burns rushing the quarterback. Burns had two sacks and a fumble recovery after knocking the ball out of the hands of quarterback Tripp Bush, and also forced an incompletion when he hit Bush as he was throwing.

“I think Tripp’s going to be sore for a little while,” said Rafferty.


Kennebunk’s defense played well, too, holding Brunswick’s potent offense in check for much of the game and forcing four turnovers.

But Brunswick’s special teams stepped up. Palizay had a 13-yard punt return from midfield to set up the Dragons’ second scoring drive, which ended when Hunter Garrett ran around right end for a 4-yard touchdown. Jensen threw the conversion pass to Gordon, and it was 16-0.

Kennebunk’s defense got the Rams back into the game, as Christian Putnam recovered a fumble at the Brunswick 17. Six plays later, Patrick Saunders powered in from the 1. But Burns sacked Bush from behind on the conversion attempt, so Brunswick still led 16-6.

Palizay again returned the kickoff up the middle through a huge hole. This time he went for 36 yards, setting up the Dragons at the Kennebunk 44. Jensen went in from the 1 on a quarterback sneak with 51 seconds left in the half to give Brunswick a 22-6 lead.

The Dragons had three turnovers in the third quarter, but their defense stood tall. After the last one, Burns came in from Tripp’s blind side and sacked him, forcing a fumble that he recovered.

“I was playing for my brothers tonight,” said Burns. “This means everything to us.”

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