Yarmouth running back Michael McGonagle, left, ran for 2,562 yards and 23 touchdowns last season in helping the Clippers win the eight-man Large School championship. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Since the debut of eight-man football in Maine in 2019, no team has repeated as state champion.

With last season’s winners – Yarmouth in the Large School division and Old Orchard Beach in the Small School division – returning deep and talented squads, that could change.

Brunswick is the lone newcomer to eight-man football this season. Twelve teams will compete in the Large School division, and 16 team in the Small School division.


Yarmouth graduated 6-foot-2, 260-pound fullback/defensive lineman Spencer LaBrecque, but that’s the only major loss for the Clippers, who return seven starters on both sides of the ball and look to be the favorites in the South division.

It starts with senior running back Michael McGonagle, who ran for 2,562 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, primarily with LaBrecque as a lead blocker. This season, McGonagle’s fullback is 6-2, 240-pound Malyk Cofer, a junior who missed last season because of injury.


“Malyk can run like Spencer,” Coach Jim Hartman said. “We have more speed than we had last year. We can open it up if we have to.”

Senior quarterback Sam Bradford returns, as do tight ends Trent Richard and Adam Pelotte. Center Eddie Kim and tackles Wyatt Gawtry and Brayden Loze return to the offensive line. Defensively, the Clippers are led by linebacker Rufus MacVane, who set a school record with 157 tackles last season.

Mt. Ararat lost Shea Farrell, its top player on both sides of the ball, to graduation. His brother, Dash, looks to pick up the mantle, especially on offense, where he’ll be the primary ball carrier after missing the second half of last season because of a hip injury. Parker Lohr moves from the offensive line to the backfield, where he’ll get carries along with Farrell and Phoenix Norton. Wes Wallace will be at quarterback.

“We’re not going to be as strong as we have been in the past. We have some question marks, but by the end of the year, we’ll have it figured out,” Coach Frank True said.

Brunswick went 0-8 last season playing 11-man football in Class B North. The Dragons are young, but in new head coach Mark Renna, a former Yarmouth assistant, they have a coach with eight-man experience. Seniors Noah Gaghan and Hunter Duval anchor both sides of the line and provide leadership. Quarterback Cam Beal returns, as does wide receiver/defensive back Trevor Gerrish, running back/linebacker Liam Scholl, and center/linebacker Tyler Maxim.

Lake Region missed the playoffs last season and doesn’t have a senior on its roster, but Coach Mike Meehan believes his team will contend, led by junior quarterback Brock Gibbons (1,700 passing yards, 17 TD passes), junior wideout Jackson Libby (500 receiving yards, five TDs) and running back/linebacker Nolan Cummings (76 tackles).


Greely enters its second season since severing its 11-man co-op with Falmouth, and Coach Caleb King has 44 players in the program. Wide receiver/linebacker Ryder Simpson is a key on both sides of the ball, along with running back/defensive end Jerik Phillips and lineman Brody Gifford. Andrew Padgett returns at quarterback.

Former assistant coach Mike Caiazzo takes over at Gray-New Gloucester, where senior running back Brady Castrucci looks to lead the Patriots.

Waterville running back/cornerback Dawson Harrison earned all-conference honors last fall and returns for a team that’s won the Large School North title the past two seasons. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Two-time defending Large School North champion Waterville returns three all-conference players: running back/cornerback Dawson Harrison, lineman Griffin Pelotte, and running back/cornerback Ben Foster. Coach Isaac LeBlanc expects the division to be very competitive.

With all-conference quarterback Calin Gould (882 rushing yards, 513 passing) back, along with tight end Braylon Williams (19 catches, 212 yards), Morse looks to build on last season’s five-win effort. Ashford Hays will contribute on the offensive line and at linebacker.

Mountain Valley enjoyed an undefeated regular season in Small School South before falling to Old Orchard Beach in the playoffs. The Falcons graduated just three players and expect to contend this fall in the Large School division. Kaden Paaso will run the offense out of the single wing, with Jyrrmal Yates also getting carries, while Owen Gaudette and Dylan Theriault lead a young line.

“I felt like some of the competition in the Small division didn’t match up with our skill level. We’re looking forward to playing with the Large schools,” Coach Patrick Mooney said.


Mt. Desert Island reached the regional final last season, falling to Waterville. The Trojans return Spencer Laurendeau at quarterback and Jacob Shields at running back. Spruce Mountain is now in the North and will look to make the playoffs with a new coach, Jordan Hersom, after winning five games in the South last season. Camden Hills will look to improve on last season’s two-win campaign.


Old Orchard Beach wide receiver Riley Provencher races for a touchdown in the eight-man Small School championship game last fall. The Seagulls are the defending state champions. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Old Orchard Beach hit its stride just in time for the playoffs last season, and defeated Orono, 46-22, in the Small School state championship game. The Seagulls return the core of that team, including quarterback Brady Plante (1,700 yards passing, 24 TDs), wideout Riley Provencher (40 catches, 708 yards, 10 TDs), and running back Wes Gallant, who ran for 500 yards as a freshman last season. Defensively, the Seagulls are led by linebacker Reid MacNair, a two-year captain, linemen Derrick Webber and Kyan Chase, and linebacker Brayden Mansur, who led the team in tackles.

“We have speed in all positions,” Coach Dean Plante said.

Maranacook has a new coach, Skip Bessey, but returns one of the league’s top running backs in Owen Dunn, who gained 804 yards with six touchdowns. Quarterback Cody Goucher ran for 739 yards and threw for 782. Pat Cushing, a center, leads the offensive line.

Dirigo, the regional runner up last season, was hit hard by graduation, especially at the skill positions. Isaiah Bradeen, a four-year starter, leads the offensive line, the most experienced unit on the team according to Coach Craig Collins.


Senior tight end/defensive end Dylan Capano was Sacopee Valley’s leading receiver and tackler last season and returns for the Hawks, along with lineman Gage True and defensive back Tyler Easterbrook. Traip Academy is looking to build with a young group of players. Newcomer Phin Fifield, a junior convert from the soccer team, could be an immediate impact player at receiver and cornerback, Coach Eric Lane said.

Telstar looks to build on last season’s 3-5 record, while Mount View will look for improvement after going 1-6 in the North division.

Like Old Orchard Beach, Orono returns the core of the team that reached the state final last season. Led by quarterback Jack Brewer, receivers Will Francis and Pierce Walston, and running back Ben Francis, the Red Riots are the favorites in the North again.

The 2021 state champion, Dexter, was hit hard by graduation. Will Spratt or Blaine Gould will be under center, with Zak Adams leading the defensive from his end position. Stearns looks to contend with the return of running back Caden Raymond, who also led the team in tackles. Mattanawcook Academy must replace Isaac Hainer, the top player in the league last season. Center Fred Mason is the team leader on the line.

New Bucksport Coach Sean Geagan will look to quarterback Ayden Maguire for leadership in the team’s second season of eight-man football. Houlton also has a new head coach, David Day, and will look to return to the playoffs. Ellsworth moves to the Small School division after going 1-6 in Large School North. St. John Valley is looking for its first win in its second season of varsity play.

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