CUMBERLAND — Greely High’s football rebuild took a gigantic step forward Saturday night. In just the second season since leaving a co-op with Falmouth and restarting its own program, the Rangers are going to a state championship game.

Greely beat Brunswick 40-22 in the eight-man Large School South final, continuing a turnaround after going 0-7 last season.

“It was putting in the work in the offseason. Last year was kind of a proving season. We got to learn. This year, we executed,” Greely junior quarterback Andrew Padgett said.

Greely will face Mt. Desert Island in the Large School state final next Saturday at Cameron Stadium in Bangor. The Trojans defeated Camden Hills, 26-6, in the North final Saturday afternoon.

Brunswick (6-4), the No. 4 seed in the South, won the regular-season game against Greely, 42-38, on Sept. 14. After starting the season 1-3, second-seeded Greely now has a five-game winning streak.

“We’ve been slowly improving throughout the season. We’re a different team than when we faced them last time,” quarterback Andrew Padgett said.

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The Rangers took advantage of big plays, with five of their six touchdowns coming on plays of 25 yards or more. Padgett had touchdown runs of 60 and 70 yards and threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Wes Piper. Jerik Phillips had two 25-yard touchdown runs and added a 6-yard touchdown in the final minute.

“I mean, we’ve got big-play guys. That’s one of the things we’re really blessed with this year,” said Caleb King, Greely’s head coach. “I believe we’re a really dangerous team, where you’ve got to account for all five of our skill players at any one time… It’s really on them, the players. We gave them the opportunity and they put in the work.”

Trailing 18-8 at halftime, Brunswick took the second-half kickoff and went 61 yards in nine plays, scoring when Liam Scholl caught a 27-yard pass from Cam Beal. Trevor Gerrish caught the 2-point conversion pass from Beal, and Greely’s lead was 18-16 with 8:51 left in the third quarter.

The Rangers pushed their advantage back to 10 points with 3:10 left in the third when Padgett ran a bootleg to the left for a 70-yard score. After the Rangers’ first conversion was negated by a holding penalty, they went deep into the playbook to convert the second try. Phillips tossed a halfback pass to Ryder Simpson for a 26-16 lead.

“We were just pounding it up the middle, and randomly we’d catch them off guard to the outside with that QB lead. It worked out,” said Padgett, who ran for a game-high 184 yards on 15 carries, 130 coming on his two touchdown runs.

Greely took control early, scoring a pair of touchdowns on their first three offensive plays. First, after Brunswick opened the game by recovering an onside kick, Greely held on downs, and Padgett then ran 60 yards for a touchdown on a bootleg to the left for a 6-0 lead.

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Brayden Van Pembrook’s interception at midfield and return to the Dragons 25 on Brunswick’s next possession set the Rangers up for a one-play scoring drive. Phillips ran up the middle 25 yards for the touchdown and a 12-0 lead with 7:29 left in the first quarter.

Brunswick cut the deficit to 12-8 early in the second quarter when Christian McMaster caught an 8-yard pass from Beal and Beal ran in the 2-point conversion. The Rangers answered when Padgett connected with Wes Piper for a 55-yard pass that made it 18-8.

Phillips’ second 25-yard TD run pushed Greely’s lead to 32-16 with 9:41 to play. The score capped a drive that started when the Rangers recovered a Brunswick fumble at the Greely 10 late in the third quarter.

Gerrish (103 yards on eight catches) then caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Beal with 7:47 remaining, but the Dragons couldn’t make it a one-possession game by adding a successful conversion.

“We made some mistakes. Penalties, offsides, put the ball on the ground. That’s not championship football. I tip my hat to Greely. They executed,” Brunswick Coach Mark Renna said.

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