Cape Elizabeth was too fast, too big, and most of all too determined to get the school’s first football championship.

The Capers dominated the Class C championship game from start to finish Saturday night against Winslow and rolled to a 53-8 win behind a brilliant performance from senior quarterback Caden McDuffie, who threw five touchdown passes in the first half after rushing for the first score just 2:28 into the game.

Cape finished with a 10-1 record, setting up its championship by upsetting South No. 1 Leavitt, 25-22, when McDuffie scored on the game’s final play on a 3-yard, fourth-down run. Winslow, the North champion, finished 7-3, with all three of its losses against Class C South teams.

“Last week we played Leavitt, obviously a strong opponent, and we didn’t treat this week any differently,” McDuffie said. “We take it as we’re playing the best team in the state every week. We prepared all week. Very intense practices for a states week, and we came out and delivered exactly like we were supposed to, in my opinion.”

This was Cape’s 17th season of varsity football (not counting the 2020 7-on-7 season). The Capers quickly became a force under former coach Aaron Filieo and reached the state final in 2009 (Class B) and again in 2017 (Class C).

“They’ve been here twice and it’s been elusive and we’re just glad to finally bring it home,” said Coach Sean Green, who took over prior to the 2019 season after Filieo was hired by South Portland.

Cape clearly had more playmakers on the field, led by McDuffie and receivers Nick Laughlin (six catches, 169 yards, three TDs all in the first half) and Jack Gorman (two TD catches in first half).

“It’s great to be the first,” said Laughlin, whose older brother, Matt, was on the 2017 team. “I’m just proud of all the boys out here to bring it home. We’ve been talking about it all week, all year, for forever, basically.”

McDuffie was 9 of 11 passing for 245 yards and also rushed for 79 yards and two scores, the second from the 2 to give Cape a 53-0 lead with 9:15 to play, prompting Cape to go to its bench.

Cape led 39-0 at halftime, and the entire second half was played under running time. In the second half, Cape switched from its spread offense to a tight double-wing set that it uses in short-yardage situations and promptly scored on its first possession, getting a 15-yard TD run from Caden Lee.

Winslow, which runs the double-wing almost exclusively, had much more trouble against Cape’s defense, led by the likes of Colin Smith, Gabe Harrison and Aidan Quinn.

“I told our guys I was sick and tired of hearing about our offense all week,” Green joked. “We’re a phenomenal defensive team. We’re physical. We’re gritty.

Winslow co-head coach Pete Bolduc was impressed.

“Their speed, and they were extremely physical, a lot more physical than Cape had shown,” Bolduc said. “That’s a very, very good football team out there. 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.”

With six plays of 20 or more yards, Cape had a 313-109 advantage in yards in the first half despite running 14 fewer plays. The Capers pushed that advantage to 415-129 before inserting its second- and third-team players.

Laughlin scored on wide receiver screens from 26 and 72 yards in the first half. He and Gorman both ran under well-thrown 44-yard scoring passes. McDuffie also connected with Gorman for a 14-yard score, one play after a rare Cape mistake (a block-in-the-back penalty) had wiped out a McDuffie-t0-Gorman TD on the opposite side of the field.

“I think this is the statement we wanted to make,” Gorman said. “We knew exactly what we could do going in here. We knew what we were good at and what we needed to be careful of from them. We knew if we came in here and executed, this is what was going to happen.”

Winslow got on the board with 5:06 to play when Evan Bourget scored on a 4-yard run. Quarterback Jared Newgard completed the 2-point conversion pass to Tyler Brockway.


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