It was easy to be buried in the avalanche of points put up by the three winning South teams during the football state championship games Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium: 57 by Scarborough in the Class A final, 48 by Wells in Class D and, finally, 63 by Marshwood in Class B.

What also should be remembered is how well the three champions played defensively. Scarborough and Wells shut out Windham and Foxcroft Academy, respectively. Marshwood held Skowhegan – a team that scored 48 points or more five times – to 20 points, and the first six came on a brilliant 99-yard kickoff return by Jon Bell.

Scarborough senior Anthony Griffin understands why his team’s offense gets the lion’s share of attention. As a starting offensive tackle, he helps set up the game breakers.

“Going into every game, it was kind of like, ‘Offense, offense, offense,’ because we have a slinger like Zoltan (Panyi) at quarterback and we have all our athletic receivers, but our defense definitely stepped up (Saturday),” Griffin said.

Griffin helped set the tone with key stops on Windham’s first two possessions. On third-and-4, the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Griffin swallowed up Windham’s power back, Treva Valliere, for no gain to force a punt. On the next series, Griffin blew past Windham’s left tackle and threw quarterback Tanner Bernier for a 3-yard loss on a designed run.

From that point, Windham went more to its passing game. Scarborough’s Sean Shackford and Cody Dudley had sacks. Jaquan Seme blanketed Windham’s Hunter Coffin and made an outstanding pass breakup at the goal line.

Over its last six games, Scarborough allowed a total of 43 points and recorded two shutouts. In three other games, the Red Storm had huge leads before allowing a point. Defending champion Bonny Eagle, 7-0 at the time, was the only team to score meaningful points against the Red Storm during that stretch.

“I heard people saying this week that Scarborough is an offensive juggernaut and the defense does enough to get by,” said Red Storm Coach Lance Johnson. “I mean our (starters) pitched a shutout in the Southern Maine championship and held Thornton to 90 yards. They pitched another shutout (Saturday), and they held Bonny Eagle to 14 points when they were averaging 53 points a game. So our defense has been outstanding.”

For Marshwood, the key was stopping Skowhegan’s screens and quick throws to the flat by being sharp with assignments and tackling in space.

Skowhegan did hit two big-gainers, both over the middle: a 43-yard gain on a seam route up the left hash to Colby Miller and a 94-yard score on a slant to Cam Barnes. Barnes also caught a 9-yard touchdown pass after Miller’s big gain.

Those three plays accounted for 146 yards and two touchdowns. But Marshwood dominated the other 35 times junior quarterback Marcus Christopher dropped back.

Those 35 other plays resulted in 23 yards for Skowhegan and six points for Marshwood. The breakdown went like this: 13 completions for 41 yards, two scrambles for 10 yards, five sacks for minus-28 yards, 14 incompletions, and Joe Taran’s interception return for a touchdown.

In the Class D game, Wells pulled down four interceptions and broke up half a dozen Foxcroft Academy passes. Foxcroft quarterback Nick Clawson was 6 of 22 for 54 yards.

“I thought our pass defense – which everyone says is terrible – I thought our pass defense was pretty good,” said Wells Coach Tim Roche. “We just came here on the big stage and played well.”

IF YOU’RE looking for a possible turning point in the Class C state championship game Friday night at Alfond Stadium in Orono, the final minute of the first half is a good place to start.

Cape Elizabeth pulled within 14-13 with 1:28 remaining in the second quarter when Andrew Hartel hit Matt Conley for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Capers went for a 2-point conversion, but the pass was incomplete.

Maine Central Institute then took control by driving 60 yards to score on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Friend to Andrew Whitaker. The big play on the drive was a 36-yard pass from Friend to Pedro Matos down the right slot – a pass that seemed to hang in the air for 20 seconds.

The scoring play was somewhat unconventional.

On fourth down from the 6, the Huskies sent Devon Varney out to try a 23-yard field goal. Cape Elizabeth called a timeout.

When the teams came back, MCI had its offense on the field and put seven players near the left sideline, with four remaining in the middle of the field. Cape called another time out.

The teams came back and, when MCI’s players once again went in motion to the left, the Capers were penalized for being offside, moving the ball to the 3.

The teams lined up again: MCI with seven players to the left and four in the middle, including three on the line and Friend at quarterback. He took the snap, surveyed the end zone and found Whitaker alone for a touchdown with 25 seconds left in the half. Varney’s kick made it 21-13.

Whitaker lined up to the right of the center. Upon the snap, he hesitated for a minute, then looped out to the right.

“We set up for that in a previous week, so I thought our guys adjusted well, I thought we had guys in the right spot,” said Cape Coach Aaron Filieo. “But I think we had two guys covering the same guy and one guy got loose.

“I thought we would come out of that in a good situation, but obviously we didn’t cover that guy. That was a tough one.”

MCI Coach Tom Bertrand credited his assistant, Woody Moore, with the call. He told reporters that Moore was the one who wanted to go for it. The Huskies had practiced the play once all week.

Friend couldn’t believe the call was made. He said all he thought about was “what could go wrong with that play.”

Instead, it worked to perfection, and the Huskies had regained the momentum.

“We knew it was going to be a big turn for a score, and just put the other team down,” said Whitaker.

FOR A WELLS TEAM known for its running backs, the focus doesn’t usually land on the quarterback.

But Michael Wrigley almost doubled his rushing touchdowns for the season Saturday, scoring three against Foxcroft Academy to bring his total to seven.

“We traditionally have kind of held off doing that during the season because we don’t want to get our quarterback hurt,” Roche said.

“Then we turn him loose later in the season to get him going. We did the same thing in 2011.”

In the 2011 Class B championship game, Wells quarterback Paul McDonough rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the Warriors past Leavitt, 21-13.

BEFORE KYLE GLIDDEN racked up 210 all-purpose yards and threw a touchdown pass Saturday, the Marshwood senior running back asked his father for some championship game advice. Kris Glidden started on defense and backed up Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Steve Knight on Marshwood’s 1989 Class A championship team, which also beat Skowhegan in the state final.

“It was his senior year. He got to go out the same way against the same team,” Kyle Glidden said. “He told me to leave everything out on the field, not let anyone take anything away from you, and to do your thing. I think I did that tonight.”

Glidden’s mother also knows athletic success. Stacy (Fimple) Glidden played three sports at Traip Academy and was a first-team All-American while playing field hockey at the University of New Hampshire in 1994.

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