Cape Elizabeth 46 Fryeburg Academy 8

FA-  0 8 0 0- 8
CE- 12 7 20 7- 46

First quarter
CE- Foley 2 run (kick blocked)
CE- Laughlin 28 run (pass failed)

Second quarter
FA- Saunders 3 run (Carter pass to Micklon)
CE- Foley 5 run (Hennessey kick)

Third quarter
CE- Laughlin 1 run (rush failed)
CE- Clark recovered fumble in end zone (Hennessey kick)
CE- Laughlin 60 run (Hennessey kick)


Fourth quarter
CE- Foley 1 run (Hennessey kick)

CAPE ELIZABETH—You have to overcome a lot of adversity to become a champion, but nothing could have prepared Cape Elizabeth’s football team for the daunting challenge of illness decimating its roster just days before the start of the playoffs.

But like everything hurdle its cleared over the past year-plus, the third-ranked Capers were able to persevere with a diminished roster when they hosted No. 6 Fryeburg Academy in a Class C South quarterfinal Monday night at Hannaford Field.

Cape Elizabeth, which didn’t have enough healthy players to hold a normal practice last week, was able, thanks to the support and understanding of the Raiders, to get a 72-hour reprieve for kickoff, then went out and rode its two biggest weapons to its fifth consecutive postseason triumph.

After junior Ceroi Mello intercepted a Fryeburg Academy pass on the game’s third play, the Capers went ahead to stay on a 2-yard touchdown run from junior quarterback Mike Foley. Senior standout Nick Laughlin then added a 28-yard TD scamper to make it 12-0 after one quarter.

The Raiders then got back in the game in the second period, as junior Gunnar Saunders scored on a 3-yard run and a two-point conversion pass cut the deficit to four, but just before the half, Cape Elizabeth answered, taking a 19-8 lead on a 5-yard Foley run.


The Capers then put it away in the third quarter, as Laughlin scored from a yard out, sophomore Tucker Clark fell on Foley’s fumble in the end zone for another score, then Laughlin broke away for a 60-yard touchdown, making the score 39-8.

A 1-yard run from Foley in the fourth period finished it off and Cape Elizabeth prevailed, 46-8.

The Capers got 100 yard rushing efforts and three touchdowns apiece from both Foley and Laughlin, improved to 7-2, ended Fryeburg Academy’s season at 4-5 and advanced to take on No. 2 Wells (6-2) in the semifinals Friday night, at a time to be announced, in Wells.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green. “We just have a strong culture in our program. It starts with our senior leaders. The message was clear that it’s about next-man-up. The guys out here got after it. Some guys were dragging tonight, so I’m glad to get through this one.”

Unexpected obstacles

Cape Elizabeth has demonstrated it can rise to the challenge on the field, regardless of the foe, but the Capers were nearly dealt a knockout blow last week when illness reduced the roster to just a handful of healthy bodies, leaving too few players to practice on multiple days and by the time the regularly scheduled kickoff Friday rolled around, Cape Elizabeth just didn’t have enough able players to field a team.


“We had multiple days last week we were under 16 kids at practice,” Green said. “We’re a small roster to begin with. It was pretty tough. We had one ‘full’ practice and it was yesterday when we had 21 kids. Shout out to the Fryeburg administration and coaches. They’re class acts. They understand it’s a game about kids, not always about winning. I appreciate them doing what they did with what we had to deal with this past week. We had a crazy situation Thursday when the school board decided not to have school Friday. Thursday night, I contacted Dave  (Fryeburg Academy coach David Turner) and (Cape Elizabeth athletic director) Jeff (Thoreck) contacted their athletic director (John Gordon) and they were very understanding.”

The situation got a  little better over the weekend and by Monday, the Capers were able to take the field, but they were without senior captains James Rickman and Owen Tighe.

The defending champions enjoyed another terrific regular season, one marred only by a 28-21 loss at Wells and a 21-20 setback at Leavitt. Cape Elizabeth won its six other games by an average margin of 41-11 and wound up third in Class C South.

Fryeburg Academy opened with wins over Poland and Lisbon, lost to Cheverus and York, then beat Freeport, lost to Wells, squeaked past Westbrook in overtime, then closed with a 44-6 loss to Leavitt to wind up the No. 6 seed.

The Capers and Raiders didn’t meet this fall.

Cape Elizabeth won both prior playoff encounters, 14-0 in the 2017 Class C South semifinals and 33-6 in last year’s semifinal round.


Monday, on a very pleasant Halloween Night (56 degrees, slightly breezy and clear at kickoff), the Capers scored every time they touched the ball and gradually pulled away to advance.

Cape Elizabeth senior Nick Laughlin makes a reception early in the Capers’ 46-8 win over Fryeburg Academy in Monday’s Class C South quarterfinal. Hoffer photos.

Cape Elizabeth won the opening coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half and its defense made an immediate splash.

The Raiders started at their 20 after a touchback and after senior Haden Fox ran for three yards and junior Jordan Dutton gained three more, junior quarterback Cohen Carter tried to throw down the right side, but he was intercepted by Mello, who returned the ball to the Fryeburg Academy 21 to set the table.

After the drive began inauspiciously with a false start penalty, Foley kept the ball for four yards, then hit junior Tom Hennessey with a quick flare pass for six more. On third-and-5, Laughlin touched the ball for the first time and broke a tackle en route to a seven-yard pickup, setting up first-and-goal from the 9. Laughlin then gained seven more yards to set the stage for Foley to score from the 2, bulling up the gut with 8:08 left in the opening stanza. Hennessey’s extra point was blocked, but Cape Elizabeth had the lead for good, 6-0.

The Raiders had a chance to answer, starting from their 27, and after a false start penalty of their own, moved the chains when Carter hit Saunders for 11 yards, then Saunders ran for seven more to the 40. That’s as good as it would get for the visitors, however, as Saunders ran for two yards, caught a pass for a loss of a yard, then an incomplete pass forced a punt.

After a short punt, the Capers got the ball at their 35 and in a drive that needed six plays and 2 minutes, 15 seconds, Cape Elizabeth doubled its lead.


Mello got things started with runs of eight- and seven-yards, putting the ball at midfield. After Laughlin ran for nine yards, he picked up two more for a first down at the Fryeburg Academy 39. Foley kept the ball for 11 yards, then Laughlin did the rest, breaking free for a 28-yard touchdown. Laughlin was stripped of the ball at the end of the run, but it was ruled he’d crossed the plane of the goal line first. A two-point conversion pass failed, but the Capers were up, 12-0.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 30 with 2:46 on the clock and in a drive that used 13 plays and consumed 8:48, drove for their lone score to make things interesting.

Saunders got things started with a four-yard run, then senior Owen Galligan swept right and found running room en route to a 24-yard carry to the Cape Elizabeth 42. After Saunders ran for three yards, a false start backed Fryeburg Academy up five yards. On the final play of the first quarter (which saw the Capers out-gain the Raiders, 86 yards to 51), Saunders threw a seven-yard pass to Galligan.

The second period began with a four-yard run by Saunders, setting up fourth-and-1 at the 33. Fox then moved the chains with a nice second effort, 10-yard run. After Fox gained two more yards, the visitors were again flagged for a false start, but after scooping up a bad snap, Saunders ran for nine yards and on third-and-4, senior Caleb Micklon gained seven to set up first-and-goal from the 10. Fox only gained one yard on first down and Saunders was held to two on second down. After a timeout, Micklon ran for four yards, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 3. After another timeout, Saunders capped the marathon drive with a 3-yard TD run to the right. Micklon then caught the two-point conversion pass from Carter and Fryeburg Academy was back in the game, trailing, 12-8.

A nice kickoff return from Laughlin allowed Cape Elizabeth to start at its 33 with 5:50 on the clock. The Capers needed a big drive and got one, marching 67 yards in 11 plays and 5:11.

After a false start penalty moved the ball back five yards, Foley kept it for nine yards, Mello picked up four, then Laughlin gained three on third-and-2. After Mello ran for three yards, then he gained five, Foley moved the chains to the Raiders’ 44 with a four-yard rush. Laughlin was dropped for a one-yard loss by Fox, but Foley threw to Laughlin for 10, then Foley ran for six more for a first down at the 29. Foley then connected with senior Luke Mello through the air, good for 24 yards, setting up first-and-goal at the 5. Foley did the rest, scoring from the 5 with 39.8 seconds remaining.


Cape Elizabeth junior quarterback Mike Foley (4) celebrates with senior Nick Laughlin after scoring a touchdown.

Hennessey added the extra point to make it 19-8.

Fryeburg Academy had one more possession, starting at its 39, and looked to answer, as Carter connected with senior Colton McCarthy for 14 yards, then for 10 and once more for nine to the Cape Elizabeth 28, but after Turner used his final timeout, any scoring hopes were dashed when Carter was sacked by junior Brendan Guthrie, which bled the rest of the first half clock.

The Capers had a 153-118 edge in yardage and would open things up even further in the third quarter.

Cape Elizabeth got the ball at its 30 to begin the second half and needed just seven plays and 3:15 to extend its lead.

After Foley kept the ball for a yard and Ceroi Mello gained three, Foley dropped back and threw a deep ball that a closely defended Laughlin hauled in for a 30-yard gain to the Fryeburg Academy 30. Mello ran for three yards, then Laughlin caught a pass for no gain, but on third-and-7, Foley bounced off a tackler, then broke free. He was finally hauled down at the 2 and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was tacked on, setting up first-and-goal from the 1. Laughlin then scored easily with 8:42 on the clock. Foley tried to run in the two-point play, but was stopped short. Regardless, the lead was up to 25-8.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 31, but weren’t able to answer. They did pick up one first down, as Fox ran for six yards and Carter kept the ball for nine, but after an incomplete pass, Micklon was held to no gain, then sophomore Tyler Grenata sacked Carter to force a punt.


After just a 16-yard boot, Cape Elizabeth took over at its 40 and in six plays and 2:59 drove for another score.

Laughlin ran for seven yards on first down, then Mello gained 17 more to the Fryeburg Academy 36. After Laughlin took a touch pass for seven yards, Foley kept the ball on a sneak and gained five more to the 24. Laughlin then broke multiple tackles and pushed the pile all the way to the 4. Foley kept the ball on the next snap and appeared poised to run in for another score, but he fumbled just before crossing the line and Clark was there to fall on the ball in the end zone for the touchdown. Hennessey added the PAT to make it 32-8.

The Raiders started their next drive at their 40 and went nowhere, as Carter twice threw incomplete and after Galligan caught a pass for a yard, Carter’s deep pass was broken up by Hennessey, giving the Capers the ball on downs at their 40.

This time, just one play was necessary to find paydirt, as Laughlin took a handoff, bounced left and found running room before leaving the pursuit in his wake en route to a 60-yard score with 1:15 on the clock. Hennessey added another extra point for a 39-8 advantage.

Fryeburg Academy’s final possession of the third period saw it begin at its 35. Micklon ran for two yards, then Carter twice threw incomplete and the Raiders punted the ball back.

With 10 seconds to go in the frame, after a Fryeburg Academy personal foul penalty on the return, Cape Elizabeth started at the Raiders’ 48. The Capers would need 14 plays and 5:51 to march for the game’s final points.


Mello ran for a yard, then Laughlin gained two before Laughlin took off for 16 more to the 29. After Foley ran for five yards and Laughlin gained four, Foley moved the chains by picking up two. Mello ran for a yard, then Laughlin gained nine to set up first-and-goal from the 8. After Foley kept the ball for two yards, Laughlin ran for three, then Foley gained two, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 1. Foley then punctuated the drive with a 1-yard run with 6:19 left and Hennessey’s PAT made the score 46-8.

With a mercy rule running clock induced, both teams turned to their subs and Fryeburg Academy kept the ball the rest of the game.

Starting at their 42, the Raiders began to march, as sophomore Michael Malia twice ran for four yards and after sophomore Haruki Takagi threw incomplete, Malia moved the chains with a five-yard rush. Sophomore Jagger Helwig then rushed for 12 yards, then 17 more to the Capers’ 16, but a bad snap resulted in a seven-yard loss and after an incomplete pass, a one-yard run by Malia and one more incomplete pass drained the clock and Cape Elizabeth had prevailed, 46-8.

“We kept a positive attitude,” Foley said. “We play power, we play counter and it was working. We had a few throws too.”

“We’ve been battling every day with as many kids as we could get on the field,” Laughlin said. “We might have had 25 today, but I’m proud of the guys for coming out here without two senior captains. We did it for them. We focused more on not turning the ball and finishing drives. We didn’t want to let them in the game.”

“The message tonight was to just play our brand of football, let’s play violent, let’s play fast, let’s play physical and block up front,” Green added. “We always say ball security is job security. We ran to the football on defense. We focused on the basics. No razzle dazzle tonight. (Junior) JJ Schultzel came in today and started for Owen Tighe, a senior captain. We didn’t know Owen wouldn’t be able to play until five minutes before we met today. JJ came in. He’s undersized, but he’s smart, he’s got a big heart and goes out there and plays with great technique.


“We could tell with yesterday’s practice that it was very sluggish when we started. The back end of the practice was good. We thought that might happen again and luckily, it did. A program like Fryeburg, they’re extremely well-coached, they play a physical brand of football, so I didn’t feel safe. I never feel safe in a playoff game. We just had to keep our foot on the pedal.”

Cape Elizabeth coach Sean Green speaks to his team following the victory.

The Capers scored on all seven drives and gained 411 yards.

Laughlin ran 16 times for 177 yards and scored three touchdowns. He caught four passes for 53 yards.

Foley also excelled, running for 102 yards and three TDs on 17 attempts. He also completed all six of his pass attempts for 83 yards.

“Those guys are tremendous football players,” Green said. “They definitely made plays for us when it mattered most.”

Ceroi Mello ran 10 times for 52 yards.


Luke Mello had one catch for 24 yards.

Hennessey contributed one reception for 6 yards.

Cape Elizabeth didn’t turn the ball over and overcame four penalties for 30 yards.

Fryeburg Academy gained 189 yards, turned the ball over once and was penalized six times for 36 yards.

Carter completed 7-of-15 passes for 58 yards with an interception.

Saunders gained 34 yards and had a touchdown on eight carries and he caught two passes for 10 yards.


Galligan caught three balls for 22 yards.

McCarthy had three receptions for 33 yards.

Fox ran five times for 22 yards.

Quick turnaround

Cape Elizabeth dropped a tough decision at Wells Sept. 9, way back in week two. The Capers are just 1-4 all-time versus the Warriors in the playoffs, with a 27-14 setback in the 2016 Class C South Final the most recent.

Cape Elizabeth tried to get Wells to agree to play Saturday, but the Warriors are keeping the game Friday, meaning the Capers have three days to recover, get healthier and plan for a fired-up opponent, which oh by the way, had a bye in the quarterfinal round, but at this point, don’t bet against the defending champions and their will to win.

“I think we can learn a lot from the first time we played (Wells),” Foley said. “We’ll go down there and play our game.”

“Coach just told us we’re going to come out and focus on technique,” Laughlin said. “They run the double wing. It’s good we played Cheverus last week, so we had a little look to get ready for that. We’re always going for our end goal and we believe.”

“We just like to play football,” Green added. “We’ll turn around and get ready on Friday. Wells is a great program. They’re a great team. They’re well-coached. They have a great tradition. We have a great rivalry with them. Our loss to them in the regular season stings and we remember it. We’ll do our job and practice and focus on us. The fact they won’t move the game from Friday to Saturday is absolutely ridiculous, but we’ll have motivation. We’ll be ready.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @foresports

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