It is a fact that 43 of Maine’s 50 11-man football teams will qualify for the playoffs.

What’s far from certain is which teams will win the eight regional titles in 2023 as Maine returns to a North-South format in each class for the first time since 2018.

Only defending Class C champion Leavitt and two-time Class D champion Foxcroft Academy can be classified as prohibitive favorites. The other six regions appear to have more parity, or at least uncertainty, than any time in the past decade.

“It feels wide open this year, to be honest with you,” said Mark Soehren, coach of defending Class A champion Oxford Hills. “Last year, everyone thought it would be us and (Thornton Academy) in the final, and it turned out that way. This year, it’s hard to say.”

Ryan Snell, coach of defending Class C North champ Medomak Valley says his region is “Up for grabs, in my opinion.”

Class A teams will play nine-game schedules, with the top four teams in each region advancing to the playoffs. In all other regions, teams will play eight regular-season games, with the top six advancing (or in the case of C South, all five teams).



Oxford Hills quarterback Brady Truman, right, celebrates with teammates after throwing a fourth-quarter touchdown pass at Thornton Academy last September. Truman, who entered the game after an injury to Eli Soehren, will be the Vikings’ starting quarterback this season. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Oxford Hills graduated three Varsity Maine All-State selections, including quarterback Eli Soehren. A fourth, standout wide receiver Teigan Pelletier, has transferred to St. Paul’s in Concord, New Hampshire. But the Vikings will still be tough after going 11-0 and winning their first state title.

Quarterback Brady Truman was thrown into the fire against Thornton Academy in the regular season when Soehren was injured, and he engineered a win, then led the Vikings to wins against Sanford and Portland. Truman will be the starting quarterback this fall.

“Going in against TA without any reps, he grew up real fast there,” Mark Soehren said.

Jake Carson, a strong two-way player, will assume the lead back role, while 6-foot-4 sophomore Braydon Murch gives Truman a top target. Holden Shaw, a returning Varsity Maine All-State selection, and Alex Bartlett are experienced senior linemen.

Portland and Windham, both moving back to Class A after three seasons in Class B, will be top challengers.


The Bulldogs (8-4 in 2022) return seven starters on both sides from a team that reached the Class B final, including guards Isaak Alkafaji (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and Colin Kelly (6-0, 260), and junior tackle/defensive end Anthony Tavares (6-1, 300). Louis Thurston, a junior who saw time a year ago, will start at quarterback, with three-year starter Reegan Buck, senior receiver Hunter Temple, junior running back Aidan McGowan and junior tight end Brody Viola top options. Sean Green takes over for Jason McLeod as Portland’s head coach.

Windham went 5-4 in Class B North despite a rash of injuries. The Eagles have a tough schedule, with Thornton, Bonny Eagle and Scarborough as its North-South crossovers. Senior receiver/defensive back Ezra Foster and senior inside linebacker Tobias Perkins lead Windham. Perkins will play every skill position on offense and is a top tackler. Running back/defensive back Marcus Tillery and tough 250-pound linemen Joe Somma are returning two-way starters.

Lewiston (5-4) made big strides in Coach Jason Versey’s first season, posting its first winning record since 2011, and appears to have the inside track over Edward Little (2-7) and Bangor (1-8) for the fourth playoff spot. The Blue Devils have quality linemen and versatile players like tight end/defensive end Joe Dube and Jeffrey Randall, who can play quarterback, running back and linebacker.

Edward Little also showed improvement under Coach Rick Kramer, who believes the Red Eddies have better depth overall and more athletic ability on defense. Look for Gavin Therriault to go from top reserve to a key player as a receiver and returner with speed and good hands.


Sanford’s Jordan Bissonnette had over 1,600 all-purpose yards as a junior. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Thornton’s 117-player roster makes the Golden Trojans the favorite – again. But expect Bonny Eagle to return to top contender status, and Sanford has a slew of returning players, led by powerful senior running back Jordan Bissonnette.


Thornton (9-3 in 2022) returns five starters on each side of the ball and has veteran offensive linemen in Dominic Champagne, Liam Hieger and Henry Mahoney. Coach Kevin Kezal believes his dual-threat quarterback, Wyatt Benoit, will have many options for ball distribution, including returning senior wide receivers Brady Kezal and Zander Cantara, back Luke Reaser, receiver Jack Paradis and tight end Evan Hill. Linebacker Harry Bunce (96 tackles) leads a defense that returns linebacker Sam Nelson and defensive backs Danny Menard, Ryan Camire and Kezal.

Bonny Eagle (6-5) got an offseason boost with the return of quarterback Terrell Edwards. The starter as a sophomore, Edwards did not play football last season. He gives the Scots a true dual threat out of the spread formation. Edwards’ top target will be rangy junior CJ Cooper, with Emmett St. Pierre, Brandt Abbott, Connor Johnson and Owen Sperrey also able to stretch the field. Tight end/linebacker Connor McAvoy will head a defense that returns four starters in the secondary in Trevor Nevells, Sperrey, Abbott and Kyle Blaney.

Sanford (6-5) is perennially a solid Class A team but has not seriously challenged the top clubs in years. That might change this fall, as Coach Mike Fallon has seven starters back on both sides, including top linemen Tucker Walker (6-3, 300 pounds), Jared Riley (6-4, 240), and PJ White (6-3, 325). The offense revolves around versatile, powerful and athletic 6-1, 230-pound Bissonnette who had over 1,600 all-purpose yards as a junior. Split end/safety Makai Bougie and running back/linebacker Cam Suhy are also key returners.

Scarborough (5-5) also figures to contend for a playoff spot against two teams returning to Class A – South Portland and Noble.

Scarborough and South Portland (7-4) both have experience on the offensive line, but limited experience at the skill positions.

Scarborough linemen Sam Guite, Daryl Hopper, Cole Tomuschak and Nate Murray will need to be consistently stout to help senior first-year starting quarterback Nate Glidden get comfortable. Running back Monty Russell is looking for a breakout senior season. Kicker Caleb Wendell is an X-factor, with good range on field goals and the ability to put the ball in the end zone on kickoffs.


South Portland’s leadership is definitely in the trenches. Senior captains Alex Dobson and Parker Sipos play side-by-side on both sides of the ball, and the other senior captains are offensive lineman/linebacker Henry Risch and running back/linebacker Matthew Frey. Junior Easton Healy will replace Varsity Maine All-State selection Jaelen Jackson at quarterback, with Matt Berry a top receiver.

Noble was 1-7 in Class B South a year ago while starting seven sophomores and a freshman. Now the Knights, with an 80-player roster, return the entire offensive line and a bunch of experienced juniors in skill position spots. Jamier Rose will move from running back to quarterback, while former quarterback Tommy Gagnon switches to running back along with Varsity Maine All-State wrestler Kaden Dustin. Coach Keenon Blindow said Noble’s calling card will be its defense. “They love to tackle,” Blindow said.


Michael Hamlin, a junior, returns as the quarterback for Lawrence this fall. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Defending state champ Skowhegan graduated lots of talent and has a new head coach in Brad Cyr. Falmouth has top-tier talent but only 31 players. Cony will be competitive per usual but will rely on several sophomore starters.

The favorite’s yoke falls on Lawrence (4-6 overall in 2022), which has 64 players, a returning starter at quarterback in junior Michael Hamlin, running back depth, and added athletic seniors Brandon Watson and Dane Zawistowski, who will join Gavin Lunt to provide pass targets.

Standout players like All-State two-way tackle Will Gale (6-4, 290) and junior running back Indi Backman (more than 1,000 yards rushing last year), and a huge offensive line will make Falmouth a tough opponent if the Navigators can avoid injuries. With only two seniors and four juniors, though, there’s limited experience.


“We’ll be starting eight sophomores on both sides of the ball,” said Coach John Fitzsimmons, “but the first 11 we put on the field, we can play with anybody.”

Cony (7-3) will also be counting on sophomores, in particular quarterback Parker Morin and running back Anderson St. Onge. Senior Parker Sergent, who came out for football last year for the first time and then suffered a broken collarbone early in the season, offers top-end speed and quickness. Rocco Napolitano leads the Rams’ defense.

Gardiner (4-5) went to an air-raid style offense last year, and tight end Zach Kristan set a school record with 37 catches despite often being double-teamed. Having 6-4, 210-pound Brady Davidson join the team gives junior quarterback Chase Burgess another sure-handed option. Three-year starting linebacker and two-year captain Evan Michaud is the “heart of our defense,” said Coach Pat Munzing.

Blair Doucette, a 1996 Messalonskee grad, takes over as coach at his alma mater. The Eagles have gone just 5-27 over the past four seasons, but Doucette says with 13 seniors, his team should be in a “win-now mode.” Senior tackle/linebacker Mitch Marquis sets the tone with his every-play intensity. Receivers Garrett Card and Brady Brunell and backs Garrett Bell and Sam Dube are also key seniors. Sophomore quarterback Tatum Doucette was pressed into varsity action last year and responded with eight touchdown passes in a little over two games, including a four-TD effort in an upset of Lawrence.

Skowhegan (10-2) has one returning starter, Cyr said, in senior tight end/defensive end Ekhayo Fairely. Jason Aubin, a sophomore, takes over at quarterback, a new position for him.



New Kennebunk Coach Keith Noel talks to players while they run through drills during a practice on Thursday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Traditional power Kennebunk has a new coach for the first time since 1979. Marshwood, state champion five of the previous six seasons, went 2-6 and didn’t make the playoffs in 2022.

“Everyone I’ve talked to, it’s open for anybody,” said Keith Noel, a Kennebunk graduate and former assistant coach who replaces Joe Rafferty as the Rams’ head coach.

“I would agree with that for sure,” said Marshwood Coach Alex Rotsko, who said he’s “trying to forget about last year. Pretend it didn’t happen.”

Massabesic is looking to be the team to fill that void. A year ago, the Mustangs won the regular season with a 6-2 record (7-3 overall) before losing to South Portland in a regional semifinal. Junior quarterback/safety Cam Bradbury is a smart player with explosive-play potential. Matt Letellier was an all-conference offensive lineman, and Bryden Marcotte, a top running back, earned that honor as a linebacker.

Noel has one of the top receivers in the state in junior Max Andrews. Former tailback Gray Compton takes over as the quarterback. Kennebunk (6-4 in 2022) has a bevy of backs, including senior Jonah Barstow and junior Elon “Moose” Keys.

Marshwood was decimated by injuries a year ago, but many of those players are back, including junior linebacker/running back Ryan Essex and quarterbacks Brady Isabel and Tyler Hussey. Riley Parnham leads an experienced defensive line that Rotsko expects to be a team strength.


Biddeford (4-5) and Gorham (2-7) should return to the postseason. Biddeford boasts a strong all-around player in Jaydon Agosto and expects to be tough defensively up front, with Jamison Worthley, Francisco Pagen and Landon Sirois.

Gorham returns starting quarterback Izak Young, who accounted for 19 touchdowns, along with nine defensive starters and some good athletes in skill position spots, like junior back Casey Skolfield, senior receiver Aiden Lee and sophomore receiver Cordell Jones Jr.

Deering (1-7) and Westbrook (2-6 in C South) are both looking to improve. Deering has a new coach in former Massabesic Athletic Director Brendan Scully, who was the head coach at Noble from 2002-06, and some talented returning athletes like Pedro Lombi, Miles Hibbard, physical captain Jack Caron and junior quarterback Tavian Lauture. Juniors DeShawn Lamour and Christian Silva are solid two-way linemen.

Westbrook Coach Sam Johnson will look to all-conference players Gavin Tanner and Aiden Taylor to be key offensive threats. Linemen Lance Basinet and Sam Bareti will be joined by senior Anthony Vasquez, a first-year player who has impressed already, especially on defense.


Senior tailback Aaron Reed returns for Medomak Valley, the defending Class C North champion. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Oceanside (6-4 in 2022) is the team to beat in what looks like a competitive league. Class C North Player of the Year Aiden Sergent is back after a 1,641-yard season and all-league first-team honors at linebacker (he will play defensive end this year). The Mariners also return first-team quarterback Cohen Galley, who ran for about 600 yards and threw for another 1,500. Galley’s twin brother, Carter, returns from injury and will be a playmaker on the outside, along with Zeb Foster, for second-year coach Sam Weiss.


Defending regional champion Medomak Valley (9-3) expects to contend, but after graduating 16 players, the Panthers won’t have the same depth as last year. Two-way lineman Marshall Addy is among the top players in the league, and Sam Moody and Nathan Gess are also returning starters in the line, which should provide protection for senior quarterback Chase Peaslee, junior receiver Gabe Lash and senior tailback Aaron Reed.

Hermon was a top contender last year, but lineman Jaykob Dow, a UMaine recruit, and 1,800-yard rusher Gary Glidden have graduated. Still, the Hawks have three starting linemen back in Kayden Patten, Anthony Addessi and Ashton Harriman, and all-conference players Bruce Coulter and fullback Alec Smith, returning so expect a strong ground game.

Brewer could be an X-factor. The Witches were 3-5 in B North last year. The Witches have limited experience, but 58 players is a lot by Class C standards. Three of the four returning starters on both sides are linemen, led by Colby Largay. Junior quarterback Ethan Leavitt will look to get the ball to senior back Hunter Merrithew and junior receiver Jake Perry.

Nokomis (5-4) returns five starting linemen, which should help ease the transition for quarterback Logan Washburn, who takes over for four-year starter Grady Hartsgrove. Expect sophomore Seth Bowden, a two-way starter last season, to have a bigger role as a tailback and defensive back.


Leavitt brings back quarterback Noah Carpenter, the 2022 Varsity Maine Player of the Year. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

With just five teams, C South is the smallest division. It also has the most clear-cut favorite in Leavitt (11-0 overall in 2022), which will feature dual-threat quarterback Noah Carpenter, the 2022 Varsity Maine Player of the Year, and one of the top linemen in the state in 6-2, 270-pound Jace Negley.


Negley, guard/linebacker Mason Twitchell and Aiden Levesque return as starters on the offensive line, which should be a team strength. Slot receiver Will Keach and running back Maddox Demers are top linebackers and two-way returning starters.

The other four teams in all feature strong returning players.

Cheverus (6-4) returns eight starters on both sides of the ball, led by senior captains quarterback/safety Giovanni St. Onge, tight end/linebacker Preston Fallon, and two-way tackle Xavier Nadeau. The Stags are an experienced and mature group but have only 31 players, including four freshmen.

Two years removed from its first state title, Cape Elizabeth (8-3) has only 29 players and is already dealing with injuries. First-year coach Peter Cekutis had to cancel Cape’s exhibition game at Lawrence to help ensure the team will be ready for its opener against Oceanside. Junior Brady Inman will take over at quarterback, with rugged Mike Foley, who played the position last year after starting at center as a sophomore, moving to H-back. Foley also plays strong safety.

Fryeburg Academy (4-5), with a healthy 48-player roster, returns three-year starter Gunnar Saunders, a top player who will share quarterback duties with Cohen Carter, allowing Saunders to play multiple positions.

York (5-4), with about six returning starters on both sides, will move incumbent quarterback Gavin Davis to receiver, in part because Davis is a good defensive player at safety. Peter Martin, a junior, takes over at QB and has experienced skill position players in returning starters Ben Orso and Brody Gullison in the backfield, and Ben Brown, Brady Higgins and Sam Rios-Martine as receivers.



Foxcroft Academy’s Wyatt Rayfield finds some running room against Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale tacklers during a Class D semifinal last November. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Foxcroft Academy (10-1 last year) won its second straight Class D title in 2022. Varsity Maine All-State receiver Caden Crocker graduated, but the Ponies still have plenty of firepower. Senior quarterback Wyatt Rayfield is a returning first-team all-conference player, as are Kemsley Marsters (a kicker) and two-way lineman Hunter McSorley. Lineman Jack Caruso and receiver Jadon Richard were second-team picks. Marsters is also a talented receiver, runner and return man. Senior running back/linebacker Gage Beaudry, a starter as a sophomore, is back after playing his junior year at Dexter.

Four teams that played in C North last year have shifted to Class D North: Winslow, MCI, Old Town and Belfast. Winslow and MCI were 3-5 a year ago, while Old Town and Belfast were 1-7.

MCI has only 24 players, so co-coaches Tom Bertrand and Alex Bertrand believe moving to Class D was the right choice. Caleb Kennedy, a junior who has started the past two years, moves from receiver to quarterback. Senior guard/defensive tackle Gavin Hanscombe anchors the lines.


Conner Whitten of Wells makes a catch against Leavitt during a 2021 Class C South semifinal in Turner. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

A year ago, Wells went 6-2 in Class C, with upset wins against Cape Elizabeth and Kennebunk, then nearly beat Cape again in a regional semifinal. Now the Warriors are back in Class D, where they went 24-0 in 2017-18. They have a stable of experienced running backs, including Eli Potter, Dyllan Davis, Dom Buxton and Conner Whitten, a senior quarterback in Brooks Fox, and a 48-player roster.


Overall, the league is sturdy. Winthrop/Monmouth Academy/Hall-Dale (6-4 in 2022) and Lisbon ( 7-4) are annually solid programs. Freeport (6-4) and Poland (4-5) have each made significant improvement over recent seasons. Oak Hill (2-7), very young a year ago, returns seven starters on both sides of the ball.

Freeport graduated most of its skill position players but still has plenty of team speed and returns six starters on defense, including senior linebackers Mattie Coffin and Cooper DeLois. Teddy Peters, a junior, will move from receiver to quarterback. Junior lineman Jacob Benjamin, a starter since his freshman year, hopes to return from a foot injury in midseason.

Poland will look to running back/safety Isaac Ramsdell to lead the way for a squad with 13 seniors and seven returning starters on a defense that allowed the second-fewest points in Class D a year ago.

Explosive Adam Hinkley will team with fellow senior Hunter Drew to give Oak Hill a strong running game. Junior Colton Davis leads the offensive line, and inside-outside runner Kaiden Delano and speedy sophomore split end PJ Smith are threats.

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.