Throughout the 2017 high school football season, there has been a constant refrain: The South is stronger than the North.

It’s been supported by results and the eyeball test. In the first year of regional crossover games in all four classes, the South has won 34 of the 41 intraclass games. Nowhere was the disparity more acute than in Class B, where the South was 12-0 and won by an average of 21.8 points.

Which brings us to this weekend’s state championship games. The class A, B and C finalists have already met and – you guessed it – the South won all three, each by at least 20 points.

In Class A, Scarborough beat Windham 66-7 in Week 6. In Class B, Marshwood won at Skowhegan in the season opener, 55-12. In Class C, Cape Elizabeth beat MCI 35-15 in Week 4.

In Class D, South champ Wells hasn’t faced Foxcroft Academy, but the Warriors are riding a 15-game winning streak that includes two wins over Madison/Carrabec, which defeated Foxcroft 49-28.

So how can significant underdogs rewrite the script when it matters most? Let’s look at each game:

Class B: Skowhegan (7-3) vs. Marshwood (11-0)

When the teams met in the season opener, Skowhegan junior Marcus Christopher threw three interceptions in his first varsity start. Since then, Christopher has thrown 37 touchdown passes and one interception in nine games. Overall, Christopher has completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,901 yards. More importantly, Skowhegan’s defense – which allowed 55 or more points in four of its first seven games – has improved, shutting out Lawrence in the regional final.

Skowhegan Coach Ryan Libby knows about the North’s crossover futility. He acknowledged his team is “absolutely” the underdog.

“The bottom line is this is the only game that matters between the North and the South,” Libby said.

Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko said he’s optimistic that quarterback Tommy Springer will be available. Springer appeared woozy after taking big hits on consecutive plays in the third quarter of a 31-28 victory against Falmouth in the regional final and was removed from the game. His replacement, sophomore Connor Caverly, did not throw a pass. Springer has been cleared to return to noncontact practice on Tuesday.

Eric Quirk lifts Jeremy Sendrowski after Scarborough earned a spot in the Class A state final with a 49-7 win Friday over Thornton Academy. Staff photo by Ariana van den Akker

Class A: Windham (7-4) vs. Scarborough (9-1)

Windham was missing six starters on both sides of the ball when these teams met in the regular season. Scarborough has playmakers all over the field. The combination was a disaster for the Eagles, as Scarborough scored 52 points in the first half.

The last two weeks, Windham’s defense has been impressive, led by strong safety Tanner Bernier and an active, aggressive line. The Eagles gave up one big play in a 21-12 win at Edward Little, then routed Portland 42-6, holding the Bulldogs to one first down in the first half.

This still looks like a mismatch, however. Since a fourth-quarter letdown in a Week 3 loss to Thornton Academy, Scarborough has been held under 48 points once – when it beat defending champion Bonny Eagle, 35-14.

Cape Elizabeth celebrates beating Gardiner 35-13 on Friday to win the Class C South title. The Capers will face MCI, which is making its fourth straight trip to the state final. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Class C: MCI (7-4) vs. Cape Elizabeth (9-2)

There are legitimate reasons to believe the Huskies, the sixth seed in the North, can play with Cape Elizabeth. MCI, which won the Class D championship last year, led their regular-season matchup at halftime, 7-6.

MCI freshman quarterback Ryan Friend has seven more games of experience and led Class C North in passing. The Huskies beat the top three seeds on the road in the playoffs and avenged regular-season losses to No. 2 Winslow and No. 1 Mt. Desert Island.

This is MCI’s fourth straight trip to a state final. Cape has never won a state title.

“Our expectation was to get to the state game again and win the Gold Ball,” said MCI Coach Tom Bertrand. “Yeah, it’s an advantage for us. We’ve been there. We’ve won, we’ve lost, and our seniors and juniors really know what it takes.”

Class D: Foxcroft Academy (8-2) vs. Wells (11-0)

Foxcroft Coach Dan White isn’t offended that his team is considered the underdog.

“I think that’s a fair perception,” White said. “For a couple of reasons, most obviously that Wells is the defending Class C state champions and they dropped to D and they’re undefeated. Really, they’ve been challenged in only a couple games. They’re tough.”

Foxcroft, which was in Class C the previous four seasons, was the preseason favorite in the North and has yet to allow a point in the playoffs.

Ponies senior quarterback Nick Clawson, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound “thumper,” as White put it, has rushed for more than 1,100 yards and passed for more than 1,300.

Foxcroft also has a good kicker. Levi Steadman has missed only two extra points and is 3 for 4 on field-goal attempts.

BOOTHBAY WON the first Class E championship Friday, defeating visiting Maranacook 20-14 to complete a 10-0 season.

Class E is not an official Maine Principals’ Association championship division but did hold a four-team playoff.

Cameron Crocker scored Boothbay’s first two touchdowns on running plays. With the score tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter, Jay Hasch connected with Hunter Crocker for a 35-yard touchdown.

Boothbay Coach Ed Crocker said Class E created a competitive environment for teams that have struggled to maintain a varsity program. Boothbay had 15 players dressed for the championship game.

“I think that Class E is actually going to be expanding, not getting smaller or going away,” Crocker said. “There are several teams that I can think of that really struggled that would benefit from a Class E schedule.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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