Last Saturday, the 8-man Small and Large football state championship games were played, and this weekend the 11-man football teams will take their turns in the limelight. All eight No. 1 seeds have won their regions, so Saturday’s games certainly won’t fail to entertain.
At Lewiston High School, Wells will try to spoil Foxcroft’s three-peat bid, and an upstart Oceanside squad will try to usurp Maine’s top team in the Leavitt Hornets.
At Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland, the Bulldogs will have home field against annual powerhouse Thornton Academy of Saco, and the Bulldogs from Lawrence High School in Fairfield will take on the Kennebunk Rams.
Here’s a preview — and our score predictions — for all four state title games happening this Saturday, ordered by class.
Class A State Championship: No. 1 Portland vs. No. 1 Thornton Academy (Saco)
Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland 11 a.m.
Prediction: Thornton 27, Portland 21
Portland versus Thornton will be a rematch of their thrilling Week 1 matchup, in which the Bulldogs walked it off in Saco 35-28, on a shocking 31-yard touchdown from junior Louis Thurston to senior Reegan Buck with 48 seconds to go. Down 21-14 at halftime to the 2022 runners-up, the Bulldogs’ return to Class A could not have been more emphatic.
“That game came down to resiliency — we made big plays, and just kept responding,” first-year head coach Sean Green said. “We all know what big games are like.”
Since then, the Bulldogs have ridden this momentum to a perfect 10-0 start, and are primed to win their first state championship since 2002. The 7-4 Trojans, meanwhile, have had an unusually bumpy road to their fifth consecutive state final appearance.
After being toppled by Portland, Thornton lost to Oxford Hills 21-14 in Week 2, and then gave up a two-score second half lead to Leavitt in Week 7. In Week 8, Thornton sank to 4-4, losing big to Bedford (New Hampshire) 38-7.
“Some of those games were winnable,” longtime Thornton Academy head coach Kevin Kezal said. “We certainly learned from them, and in the end we’re back here.”
Leaning on their championship pedigree, the Trojans have played their best football down the stretch, including three wins in a row. Portland wants this one bad, but Thornton is truly battle-tested and has won five gold balls since 2012 for a reason. Playing as the underdogs for the first time in a long time, I think Thornton could pull out the victory in overtime.
Class B State Championship: No. 1 Lawrence (Fairfield) vs. No. 1 Kennebunk
Fitzpatrick Stadium, Portland 2:30 p.m.
Prediction: Lawrence 26, Kennebunk 14
Lawrence (8-2) and Kennebunk (9-1) are two championship-starved programs that are more than due for a state title. In the past ten seasons, Lawrence has appeared in five Class B North regional championships, and Kennebunk has appeared in four Class B South regional championships, winning two. Yet neither Lawrence nor Kennebunk has won a state championship since 2006 or 1991, respectively.
Now that Marshwood’s undeniable reign seems to have come and gone (six state championships between 2014 and 2021), Class B is ready for a new leader, and both the Bulldogs and Rams are suitable candidates considering their historical consistency.
Unfortunately for Kennebunk, Lawrence will probably take this one home, just because of how dominant the Bulldogs have been — particularly on defense — this October and November. Lawrence has won five straight by an average margin of 34.4 points, while Kennebunk has gone 4-1 and barely eked out one-point wins over Marshwood and Westbrook.
Saturday’s game will be hard fought, but I give Lawrence a two-score edge. Expect junior Colton Carter and the Bulldogs’ dynamic run game to punch in at least three touchdowns and log 200-plus yards.
Class C State Championship: No. 1 Leavitt Area (Turner) vs. No. 1 Oceanside (Rockland)
Lewiston High School, 11 a.m.
Prediction: Leavitt 41, Oceanside 28
Oceanside and Leavitt are both undefeated heading into Saturday, but their matchup definitely feels like a David versus Goliath kind of game.
The Mariners are new to the scene, competing for a state title on behalf of Rockland for the first time in more than 100 years. Just two years ago, Oceanside was winning one-third of its games, and scoring less than 10 points per outing — this year, they are 10-0 and averaging 45.6 points per game. Led by second-year head coach Sam Weiss, reigning Class C North Player of the Year RB Aiden Sergent and the dynamic Galley twins, the Mariners field an offense with two 1,000-yard rushers on the season, and close to 2,000 yards in the air.
Leavitt, meanwhile, is the Goliath of not just Class C South, but of all of Maine football. Led by reigning Maine Gatorade Player of the Year senior QB and strong safety Noah Carpenter, the Hornets have won 21 straight games, including victories over Class A powerhouses Thornton Academy and Oxford Hills this year. Boasting the state’s No. 1 rank according to MaxPreps, the Hornets are now one win away from their second consecutive perfect season, despite having one of the most difficult schedules in that stretch.
The Hornets certainly deserve to be the favorites, but Oceanside could definitely make it close. Both sides have some elite playmaking seniors, and will be leaving it all out there on Saturday.
“This is what it’s all about,” Weiss said. “Everyone’s beatable; it all depends on who shows up that day. In the regional final, all the pressure was on us to stay undefeated — now, we can loosen up.”
Class D State Championship: No. 1 Foxcroft Academy vs. No. 1 Wells
Lewiston High School, 2:30 p.m.
Prediction: Foxcroft 28, Wells 14
Led by Kemsley Marsters, Wyatt Rayfield and Gage Beaudry, Foxcroft’s stacked class of 2024 has led the Ponies to two straight Class D state championships, and a 31-1 record since the pandemic. Every year, Foxcroft has seemingly gotten better and better, and all that’s left to accomplish is a highly-coveted three-peat.
Interestingly, standing in the way of Foxcroft’s third consecutive state championship is none other than Wells, which won three in a row from 2016 to 2018 — including two title games over Foxcroft in 2017 and 2018.
Neither community has forgotten about those games, and this year’s state championship showdown could have a defining impact on the landscape of Class D football. Whether Wells’ young bucks successfully play spoiler or Foxcroft’s seniors get their happy swan song, so much more is at stake than usual.
The 7-3 Warriors will be more than comfortable playing smash-mouth football on Saturday if it rains, but the 10-0 Ponies are still my favorite just because they’re so experienced and are having such a good year, outscoring their opponents 497-41.