BOX SCORE

Cape Elizabeth 53 Winslow 8

W- 0 0 0 8- 8
CE- 13 26 7 7- 53

First quarter
CE- McDuffie 26 run (Smith kick)
CE- Laughlin 25 pass from McDuffie (kick failed)

Second quarter
CE- Gorman 44 pass from McDuffie (rush failed)
CE- Gorman 14 pass from McDuffie (Smith kick)
CE- Laughlin 22 pass from McDuffie (Smith kick)
CE- Laughlin 72 pass from McDuffie (kick failed)

Third quarter
CE- Lee 15 run (Smith kick)

Fourth quarter
CE- McDuffie 3 run (Smith kick)
W- Bourget 4 run (Brockway pass from Newgard)

PORTLAND—After two decades of knocking at the championship door, Cape Elizabeth’s football team kicked it down with authority Saturday evening at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

One week after the program’s most inspirational and unforgettable victory, the Capers completed their coronation with an emphatic, start-to-finish victory over Winslow, in an effort in which all three aspects, offense, defense and special teams, were on display.

Cape Elizabeth took the ball to start the game and in just over two minutes, went on top when senior quarterback and sparkplug Caden McDuffie broke away for a 26-yard touchdown rush.

Then, after a nice defensive stand, McDuffie took over with his arm, finding junior star Nick Laughlin for a 25-yard score and a 13-0 advantage after one quarter.

The Capers then ended any lingering doubt with a four touchdown second period, all courtesy McDuffie’s arm.

First, McDuffie connected with senior Jack Gorman for a 44-yard score to make it 19-0. Then, after a long Laughlin punt return, McDuffie found Gorman again, this time from 14 yards out.

Late in the first half, McDuffie hit Laughlin for a 44-yard score, then, the dynamic tandem connected again from 72 yards out and at the half, Cape Elizabeth was in command, up, 39-0.

With a mercy rule running clock keeping the game moving, the Capers scored just once in the third quarter, as senior Caden Lee scored on a 15-yard run.

Then, in the fourth, McDuffie scored his team’s final TD, on a 3-yard run.

The Black Raiders managed to score a late touchdown against Cape Elizabeth’s second-team defense, but that only delayed the inevitable and the Capers closed out their 53-8 victory.

McDuffie threw for five touchdowns, ran for two more and Cape Elizabeth finished the season 10-1 while handing Winslow its third loss in 10 outings and best of all, the Capers ascended to the pinnacle for the first, but certainly not the last, time.

“This season’s been unreal for all of us,” said McDuffie. “Ever since I was five-years-old and I started playing this sport, I pictured myself being in a state championship game my senior year. We just prepared and executed everything our coaching staff told us to do.”

“What’s special about this group is these guys believe in the process,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green. “The guys bought into the process and knew what they had to do and they ground out a pretty physical win.”

Gold, at last

The Cape Elizabeth football program started in the old Developmental League at the start of the century. The Capers became a fully fledged varsity program in 2003, played in Class C that first year, moved up to Class B in 2004 and quickly became a top contender under the coaching of Aaron Filieo and his staff.

After losing to then-powerhouse Mountain Valley in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Western B Finals, Cape Elizabeth got over the hump and beat the Falcons to win the regional title in 2009, but the Capers’ quest for a first championship was dashed by Leavitt.

After returning to Class C in 2013, Cape Elizabeth got back to the state game in 2017, but lost to Maine Central Institute.

Green took over the team in 2019 and while the Capers lost to Freeport in the regional semifinals, the seeds were sown for an offensive juggernaut.

Cape Elizabeth never got to play a game in the COVID season of 2020, but the Capers were ready to go this fall, rolling over visiting Fryeburg Academy (40-8), dominating host Gardiner (52-7), then shutting out host Hampden Academy, 78-0, before downing visiting York, 35-14. After losing a close one at Leavitt, 39-27, Cape Elizabeth closed by dominating visiting Wells (69-0) and host Westbrook (58-16).

As the No. 2 seed in Class C South, the Capers had no trouble again with No. 8 Westbrook in the quarterfinals, rolling, 56-0, then eliminated No. 4 Fryeburg Academy, 33-6, in the semifinals.

Last Saturday, in Turner, in the program’s finest hour to that point, McDuffie’s 3-yard TD plunge on the game’s final play produced a 25-23 win over No. 1 Leavitt.

“I’ve been ready since I was five-years-old to get my name called for that play,” McDuffie said. “It was nerve-wracking, but I got it done.”

As for Winslow, it lost its opener to York and fell to 2-2 with a loss to Wells, but the Black Raiders didn’t lose from there and as the No. 2 seed in Class C North, beat No. 7 Old Town (30-6) in the quarterfinals, sixth-ranked MCI (64-6) in the semifinals and fifth-seeded Hermon (38-30) in the regional final.

While Cape Elizabeth was 0-2 in prior state games (see sidebar, below, for results and story links), Winslow was 8-7 with a 24-10 win over Yarmouth in the 2015 Class C contest its most recent.

Saturday, in the teams’ first-ever meeting, on a chilly 37-degree evening, in front of a raucous crowd, the Capers put on a two-hour show of pre-eminence to end their season in the most delicious style imaginable.

Cape Elizabeth won the opening coin toss and bucking the current trend, opted to receive the ball and quickly struck to go on top for good.

Laughlin set an immediate tone by returning the opening kickoff 33 yards to the Black Raiders’ 47. The Capers then needed just six plays and 2 minutes, 20 seconds to break the ice.

After McDuffie was held to two yards, then Laughlin ran for just three, McDuffie threw a quick out to Laughlin, who fought his way for 11 yards and a first down at the 31. McDuffie found Laughlin again for five yards, then senior Colin Campbell was held to no gain, but on third-and-5 from the 26, McDuffie took off up the middle, bounced outside, then out-raced the pursuit to the end zone and with 9:32 to go in the opening stanza, Cape Elizabeth had the lead.

“Coach Green is somebody who likes to get his point across,” said McDuffie. “He told us in the locker room that we were going to take the ball and punch it down their throats. That’s what we came out here and did. I saw a great kick-out block and the leverage was there. I put my hand on Colin Campbell’s back and let their safety make a choice. He chose to go inside, I bounced it outside, got a great block and I was able to score.”

Senior Colin Smith added the extra point for a 7-0 advantage.

Winslow looked to answer when it got the ball at its 31, but after senior Jack Dorval gained a yard and sophomore Matt Quirion ran for seven, Dorval was stuffed for no gain and on fourth-and-2, Quirion was stopped just shy of the marker and the Capers got the ball back on downs at the Black Raiders’ 41 with 6:59 to go in the first.

This time, Cape Elizabeth needed just three plays and 1:22 to add to its lead.

After Campbell ran for two yards on first down, McDuffie found Laughlin for 14 yards, then, on a quick slant, McDuffie hit Laughlin again and behind some good blocking, Laughlin raced in to complete the 25-yard scoring play with 5:57 on the first quarter clock. Smith missed the extra point wide right, but the Capers had a 13-0 advantage.

Winslow got the ball back at its 31 and began to drive, milking the remainder of the first period in the process.

Junior quarterback Jared Newgard got things started by hitting senior Evan Bourget for 14 yards. After Quirion was held to no gain by Cape Elizabeth junior Aidan Quinn, Lee dropped Quirion for a two-yard loss, but Newgard found Dorval for 12 yards and a first down at the Capers’ 43. After Quirion ran for a yard, junior Pedro Garcia gained three. Bourget picked up four, setting up fourth-and-just over a yard and Newgard moved the chains by barely gaining enough yardage. After an incomplete pass, Smith dropped Bourget for a two-yard loss, then Newgard ran for seven yards on a scramble on the final play of a first quarter, which saw the Capers hold an 88-50 yardage advantage.

On the first play of the second period, on fourth-and-5, Quirion only gained a yard and Cape Elizabeth got the ball back at its 28 five seconds into the frame. This time, the Capers needed five plays and 2:14 to strike again.

Laughlin ran for seven yards on first down, then McDuffie threw incomplete, but McDuffie kept the ball and ran for 21 yards to the Black Raiders’ 44. After a five-yard pickup by Campbell, a false start backed Cape Elizabeth up five yards, but the Capers picked those five yards, and 39 more, on the next snap, when McDuffie lofted a pass over the secondary, right into the hands of a streaking Laughlin, who raced in to complete the 44-yard touchdown.

“We wouldn’t be here without our line and our skill players,” McDuffie said. “My stats wouldn’t look as good as they do if I didn’t have Nick Laughlin and my other receivers.”

McDuffie’s two-point conversion rush attempt was stopped, but with 9:41 to go before halftime, the lead was 19-0.

Winslow couldn’t answer, as it went three-and-out, as Quirion ran for three yards, then for one, before Newgard threw incomplete.

The Black Raiders then made the mistake of punting to Laughlin, who fielded the ball at Cape Elizabeth’s 40 and brought it all the way back to the Winslow 13.

“That was nice,” Laughlin sad. “I hadn’t had that opportunity all season.”

After a Campbell one-yard run and an incomplete pass, McDuffie appeared to hit Gorman for a 12-yard score, but an illegal block in the back penalty moved the ball back to the 14, which was only a momentary impediment, as McDuffie rolled right, spotted Gorman running free and Gorman made a nice lunging catch before completing the 14-yard touchdown reception.

“I have great chemistry with my receivers,’ McDuffie said. “We hang out, we’re good friends and a lot of us play other sports together. That chemistry helps. I know if I throw the ball out there, they’ll catch it.”

“It starts with the offensive line,” said Green. “They provide great protection on those passes. Caden was in rhythm, made his read and he delivered the ball on time. Great routes obviously by our receivers help too.”

Smith added the PAT and with 7:02 on the clock, the lead was up to 26-0.

Again, the Black Raiders couldn’t respond, as Quirion ran for one yard, Bourget picked up two and Newgard’s scramble only produced five, forcing a punt.

This time, Laughlin returned the punt 15 yards and a personal foul penalty was tacked on, setting the Capers up at the Winslow 44 and on the first play, McDuffie dropped back, lofted a bomb down the middle and Laughlin ran it down before crossing the goal line for the score.

“We have threats all over the field and our defense can get the offense the ball back quickly,” said Laughlin.

“Nick’s phenomenal,” Green said. “I’ve said all year, I think Nick Laughlin is one of the best, if not the best skill player in the state. He’s only a junior. We’re excited to have him back. He’s a tremendous football player, but a better person and a great teammate.”

Smith added the extra point and with 4:23 remaining, Cape Elizabeth had a 33-0 advantage.

The Black Raiders tried again from their 35 and appeared poised to go three-and-out once more when Newgard threw incomplete, Quinn held Quirion to no gain and Garcia only gained three yards, but on fourth-and-7, with Winslow in punt formation, Bourget took the snap on a fake and bulled forward seven yards to move the chains. After an incomplete pass, Garcia broke free for 19 yards and a first down at the Capers’ 36, but Smith held Bourget to no gain, Garcia ran for seven yards, then was held to no gain and after a false start penalty set up fourth-and-8, Newgard connected with Bourget, but only for six yards, and Cape Elizabeth got the ball back at its 28 with 1:09 to go before halftime.

That proved to be more than enough time, as McDuffie threw a quick out to Laughlin on the right and Laughlin did the rest, again riding stellar blocking to find a hole before out-racing the pursuit to complete the 72-yard touchdown reception with 56.9 seconds on the clock.

“That long one by Nick, credit to Colin Smith,” said McDuffie. “He threw a great block there.”

Smith missed the PAT wide left, but the Capers were up, 39-0, and took that lead to the break.

In the first half, Cape Elizabeth produced 289 yards of offense, while McDuffie was otherworldly, going 8-of-10 for 239 yards and five touchdowns. Laughlin had six receptions for 171 yards and three TDs of his own.

“We try to be dynamic on offense,” Green said. “If we need to run the ball, we’ll run the ball. If we need to throw the ball, we’ll throw the ball. Our guys do a good job and it all starts with the offensive line. We have two tackles in Gabe Harrison and Colin Smith, who are senior captains, but we have three sophomores starting on the line, including our backup quarterback. It’s exciting to see the offense click.”

With the clock running throughout, the Capers then added two more scores in the second half and put the finishing touches on their victory.

The Black Raiders got the ball to start the third quarter and began at their 27, but after Quirion ran for four yards and Garcia gained one, Bourget was held to three, forcing a punt, which again Laughlin returned for big yardage, this time, 30 yards.

Cape Elizabeth started its first second half possession at Winslow’s 31 with 8:10 on the third quarter clock and in three plays and 1:18, scored again.

After Laughlin ran for 10 yards, sophomore Ceroi Mello got the call and ran for six, setting up Lee, who did the rest, scoring on a 15-yard burst up the middle with 6:52 remaining. Smith added the extra point for a 46-0 lead.

The Black Raiders got the ball back at their 19 and after junior Gavin Chambers ran for six yards and Newgard threw incomplete, Newgard kept the ball for eight yards and a first down at the 33. Newgard ran for three more yards, then hit Bourget for five before Quinn dropped Bourget for a two-yard loss, forcing a punt.

Late in the period, the Capers started at their 29 and an eight-yard run by McDuffie and a 14-yard burst from Laughlin sent the game to the final stanza.

After Lee ran for seven yards and McDuffie did the same, Laughlin picked up five yards and Mello ran for 15 and a first down at the Winslow 15. McDuffie then broke multiple tackles and fought his way to the 3 and on the next snap, McDuffie kept the ball and bulled in for the touchdown with 9:15 remaining. Smith added one final PAT for a 53-0 advantage.

Green then sent in his second team defense and the Black Raiders were finally able to drive 65 yards on seven plays in 4:09 for their lone score.

Starting at its 35 with 9:15 to go, Winslow got things started when Newgard found Dorval for a 10-yard pass. After Dorval ran for nine yards, Chambers got the call and rumbled for 13 and a first down at the Capers’ 33. After Dorval picked up 13 yards, Chambers gained 11, setting up first-and-goal from the 9. Bourget ran for five yards, then, with 5:06 left, Bourget scored on a 4-yard rush. Newgard found senior Tyler Brockway for the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 53-8.

Cape Elizabeth took over for the final time at its 28 and with sophomore Michael Foley, the quarterback of the future, under center, was able to run out the remainder of the 4:51 on the clock.

After freshman Tucker Clark gained 11 yards, Foley broke free for 20 more to the Black Raiders’ 41. Freshman Brady Inman ran for three yards, then freshman Logan McVeigh got his turn and picked up 22 more. After an illegal procedure penalty, the Capers ran one final play, a quick swing pass from Inman to McVeigh for no gain.

Then, at 8:15 p.m., the final horn sounded and Cape Elizabeth was able to celebrate its 53-8 victory.

“I’m speechless,” Laughlin said. “Bringing the first championship home to the town with all our fans here is crazy. Everyone just had to bring it tonight.”

“One thing about this team, we don’t treat anybody differently,” McDuffie said. “We were 0-0 and we just wanted to leave the week 1-0. This coaching staff gets us so well prepared with scouting, in the film room. They want us to succeed and we just had to follow their plan.”

“This means everything,” Green added. “It’s unbelievable. We talked in February, 2019 for the first time as a team when my staff and I took over here. We talked about this moment here, delivering a Gold Ball to Cape Elizabeth. Unfortunately, COVID took our season last year. We thought we’d be a strong team. This year, not a lot of people believed in us, especially last week, but we believed all along and that’s all that matters. We turned the page from Leavitt. That was a great win against a great program, but this week, we had to deal with a storied program like Winslow. We knew this group was special and they delivered.

“This community is special. The first time I ever came to Cape Elizabeth was for my interview. These people have welcomed me with open arms. These kids, the parents, Booster Club, administration, nobody deserves it more than them. They’d been here twice, (the title) was elusive and we finally brought it home.”

The Capers finished with 442 yards of offense and didn’t turn the ball over.

McDuffie didn’t attempt a pass in the second half, but still wound up throwing for 239 yards and five scores on 8-of-10 passing. He ran seven times for 79 yards and two more TDs.

Laughlin had six receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half. He also ran four times for 36 yards.

Lee ran twice for 22 yards with a TD.

Gorman had two receptions, both for scores, good for 58 yards.

Winslow tallied 199 yards, but had little success against the Capers defense.

“This is one of the best defenses I’ve seen,” said McDuffie. “We have depth, we’re fast and we love to hit people. We’re dominant on offense because of our defense. They set us up for success offensively all year long and I can’t thank them enough.”

“I told the guys that I was sick and tired of hearing about our offense all week,” Green said. “We’re a phenomenal defensive team. We’re physical, we’re gritty. This was a good, well-rounded, complimentary win in all three phases.”

Bourget had 16 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown. Quirion ran 12 times for 25 yards and Newgard wound up 5-of-10 passing for 47 yards.

“That’s a very, very good football team out there,” Winslow co-coach Pete Bolduc said, of the Capers. “The best football team we’ve seen all year. Our kids, they played with heart and tried their best, but (Cape is) a very good football team.”

On to the next

Cape Elizabeth’s seniors propelled the program to a new, never-before-experienced level.

“Aaron Filieo laid the foundation for a tremendous program,” Green said. “He’s been a great friend. He sent me a great message last night. He did great with those kids and I’m glad I inherited them. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the seniors.”

While the 2022 Capers will have a different look, they’re poised to return to the pinnacle and now that they’ve experienced a championship, don’t bet against them.

“I think we just have to keep our culture going forward,” McDuffie said. “I think these kids coming up behind us are excited to play and I think they can keep it going.”

“I think this shows that we made a statement that this is a new era of Cape football and we want to come back and do this again,” Laughlin said.

“We’ve got our first one and we’re sure excited about it, but we’re building something special and I wanted to make sure every one of the underclassmen got experience on this field tonight and knew what it’s like to play in a state championship game,” Green added.

“We want to be right back here in this spot again next year.”

Press Herald staff writer Steve Craig contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Previous state game results

Cape Elizabeth

2017
Class C
MCI 30 Cape Elizabeth 13

2009
Class B
Leavitt 35 Cape Elizabeth 21

Winslow

2015
Class C
Winslow 24 Yarmouth 10

2014 Class C
Winslow 62 Leavitt 14

2013 Class C
Leavitt 47 Winslow 18

2012 Class C
Foxcroft Academy 22 Winslow 20

2006 Class B
Mountain Valley 24 Winslow 16

2004 Class B
Mountain Valley 21 Winslow 7

2001 Class B
Winslow 24 York 17

2000 Class B
Winslow 29 York 7

1993 Class B
Winslow 55 Wells 0

1992 Class B
Winslow 14 Wells 6

1986 Class B
Winslow 29 Lawrence 6

1984 Class B
Lawrence 21 Winslow 7

1982 Class B
Winslow 18 Mt. Blue 0

1981 Class B
Gardiner 12 Winslow 7

1979 Class B
Gardiner 14 Winslow 6

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