Mt. Ararat’s Shea Farrell has rushed for 1,751 yards and 30 touchdowns this season, has returned seven kicks for touchdowns (three kickoffs, four punts), and has only played past halftime in four games. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Regional championships are on the line this weekend in eight-man football, and the highlight in southern Maine is No. 2 Yarmouth (8-1) at No. 1 Mt. Ararat/Hyde (8-1) in the South Large School final, at 6 p.m. Friday in Topsham.

The host Eagles have won eight straight games, including beating Yarmouth 38-14 at home in the regular-season finale. Mt. Ararat had control for most of the game but didn’t secure the win until Shea Farrell scored his third and fourth rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

“I’m expecting a close game, and hopefully we can get it into the fourth quarter and things go our way,” said Mt. Ararat Coach Frank True.

In their first meeting, Mt. Ararat won the field-position battle and was able to make a couple of pivotal fourth-down stops, True said.

Farrell and Yarmouth’s Mike McGonagle are two of the state’s premier running backs.

Farrell has rushed for 1,751 yards and 30 touchdowns, has returned seven kicks for touchdowns (three kickoffs, four punts), and has only played past halftime in four games.


McGonagle has rushed for 2,159 yards and 19 touchdowns on 266 carries and is coming off a 215-yard effort in the Clippers’ 46-0 thrashing of Spruce Mountain in the semifinals.

Mt. Ararat will be without fullback and starting linebacker Dash Farrell, who injured his hip against Yarmouth and is out for the season. Dash Farrell, who rushed for 500 yards, has been the key lead blocker for his older brother, supporting top linemen Max Spring (the lone player from co-op partner Hyde School) and freshman Adrian Reyes.

Meanwhile, Yarmouth has 270-pound fullback Spencer LaBrecque (613 yards, 17 touchdowns) to assist McGonagle. Quarterback Sam Bradford is coming off a game in which he threw for two touchdowns and rushed for a pair of TDs.

In the Large North final, No. 3 Waterville (5-3) travels to No. 1 Mt. Desert Island (6-2). Waterville beat MDI, 26-20, in Week 3.

IN THE EIGHT-MAN Small School division, Old Orchard Beach has been on a tear. The Seagulls (7-2) have won five straight games, and last week went to Rumford and shocked No. 1 and previously unbeaten Mountain Valley, 28-16.

No. 4 Old Orchard gets a shot at avenging its only other loss when it travels to Dixfield to take on No. 3 Dirigo (7-2). The Cougars advanced with a 26-20 win at No. 2 Maranacook.


In the regular season, Mountain Valley beat OOB, 48-20, and the Seagulls were an unremarkable 2-2. Old Orchard has not allowed more than 20 points in a game since. Entering last weekend, Mountain Valley had averaged 49.4 points per game.

“That’s probably been our biggest turnaround from last year to this year, and even from halfway through this year,” said Old Orchard Coach Dean Plante. “We changed a few things we were doing and shifted some personnel, and the kids responded and are doing very well defensively. The last five weeks, it’s been stellar.”

Sophomore linebacker Brayden Mansur leads a young team (four seniors) in tackles for a second season. Inserting Shiloh Thao into the starting safety position has paid dividends. Linebacker Reid MacNair, defensive back Riley Provencher and lineman Ian Blake are other top performers.

The defense will be challenged by Dirigo dual-threat quarterback Charlie Houghton and speedster Trenton Hutchinson. Houghton rushed for 108 yards and two scores and threw for 108 yards and a touchdown when Dirigo beat OOB early in the season.

The Seagulls have a dangerous passing game. Sophomore quarterback Brady Plante (Dean’s son) has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,425 yards and 20 touchdowns. Provencher (31 catches, 628 yards, eight TDs), another sophomore, and Brady Croteau (21 catches 428 yards, eight TDs) are top targets.

Offensive coordinator Jon Gallant, a former head coach at Deering (2011-12) and Massabesic (2013-14), also has used the run game. Elijah Vasquez (519 rushing yards, nine touchdowns), MacNair, and freshman Wes Gallant (Jon’s son) are top ball carriers.


“He’s done a good job of taking the talent we have, the skill sets, and creating balance,” Dean Plante said. “We have two receivers with eight touchdowns each and another one with three or four. Five kids with multiple TDs on the ground. We take what they give us, and last week it was Reid MacNair on the ground. He had 118 (yards).”

The Small School North final is No. 5 Orono (6-3) at No. 2 Stearns/Schenck (7-1). Orono rolled over the No. 1 seed, defending state champion Dexter, 61-22 in the semifinals.

JOE RAFFERTY coached his 400th game at Kennebunk last Friday, a 33-6 Class B South quarterfinal win against Biddeford. In 44 seasons, Rafferty has a 217-183 record. Since a return to Class B in 2013, Rafferty’s teams are 69-24.

John Wolfgram, Maine’s all-time leader in wins (309-92-1) and now an assistant at Cheverus, is the only other Maine football head coach to reach the 400-game milestone. If the No. 4 Rams can upset No. 1 Portland on Friday night – the Bulldogs won the season opener, 21-14 – Rafferty would tie Wolfgram’s mark of 402 games in the regional final.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.