Class B/C High School Football Preview: Family Powers Again Poised to Rise to the Top

Winslow soccer players perform a drill during practice Aug. 24 in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

After not playing in 2020, Maine high school football teams faced a lot of uncertainty when play resumed last fall. However, once the action began, familiar faces emerged among central Maine’s best.

Lawrence. Rabbit. Skowhegan. Winslow. Although none of them produced what one might call a dominant season in 2021, those teams were in their familiar positions as contenders in a season in which the familiar was frequently pushed to the side.

“It was a wild year and there was uncertainty all the time, but once we were on the field we had great battles,” Cony’s head coach BL Lippert said. “Now, we’re back and ready again a year later, and it’s the first time in three years that the season has really come along smoothly and without interruption.”

There is certainly a greater sense of sanity as the 2022 season rolls around, and the home teams that provided some order to Class B and Class C football last year appear to be living up to their old (and winning) habits. again as a new season dawns in the Pine State.

Always competitive in the Class B North, Cony, Lawrence and Skowhegan were in the mix again in 2021. That doesn’t seem to be that different in 2022 with the Rams, Bulldogs and River Hawks being picked by the coaches to be among the top teams. in the league this year.

Ranked No. 1 by nine of the 10 coaches in Class B North is Skowhegan, who finished the season 5-5 a year ago. However, that mark doesn’t tell the full story for the River Hawks, who lost all five of their games by a combined 37 points and fell by just one to eventual regional champion Windham in the regional semifinals.

Furthermore, Skowhegan also returns the vast majority of his list. On offense, the River Hawks have a loaded passing game with quarterback Andrew Savage and wide receivers Marshall Easler and Quintcey McCray; Defensively, the team features three All-KVAC first teams: defensive end Kyle LePage, linebacker Hunter McEwen and utility Tyler Annis.

“We really finished off last year and had a great end to the year, and we had a great offseason this year,” Skowhegan head coach Ryan Libby said. “The league expects a lot from us, and I hope we put that expectation on our shoulders and show them what we’re made of.”

Lawrence, who fell to Windham in overtime at last year’s Class B North title game, has a great chance to earn another appearance in the regional finals this year. The Bulldogs have a potential Fitzpatrick Trophy finalist in senior Parker Higgins, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season.

A tough schedule for Lawrence begins with a home battle against Skowhegan this weekend. The Bulldogs had the toughest schedule in Class B last year with their opponents winning 61.22 percent of their games, and with a slate that also includes Bonny Eagle and Leavitt, John Hersom’s team has another challenge in 2022.

“Playing against some of the teams that we’ve played over the years, that’s something that really set us up for the playoffs,” Hersom said. “We want to be challenged every week, and we feel like our schedule this year will do that and have us ready and coming playoff time.”

Lippert’s Cony Rams, always a threat to make a deep playoff run, are in position to do so again this fall. The Rams have a great 60-plus roster, though they must replace three All-KVC first-team players: Adam Baugh, Ashton Dennett and Gaziano Award winner Casey Mills.

Cony’s opponents this season will be tasked with stopping a two-quarterback offense. Davyn Flynn excelled at center back last year after replacing injured starter James Presti earlier in the season, and Dom Napolitano was equally impressive later in the year after Flynn suffered an injury of his own.

“Deep down, those two kids are competitors and they want to win soccer games,” Lippert said. “Both of these guys are very comfortable (rotating quarterback), but they also know they can help the team in other ways if we put them somewhere else. You will see both of them a lot in the position for us.”

Cony’s biggest rival, Gardiner, is back in the Class B North after playing in the tough Class C South in 2021. For the Tigers, it will be the first time they have played at home since 2019 after COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season and forced to renovate the course. the team to play home games 30 miles north at Messalonskee High School a year ago.

Stepping up a class is never easy, but Gardiner has the pieces in place to keep it going this fall. The Tigers return 10 of their 11 starters on defense, and they also have a couple of experienced offensive players in quarterback Wyatt Chadwick and running back Colton Dube. The offensive line, coach Pat Munzing said, should take a big step forward.

“One of the hardest things last year was that we were never able to get consistency out of our offensive line,” Munzing said. “That’s been a focus for us this year, getting those guys to develop as a body. Now, a lot of those guys have taken that step forward, and that’s something that we’re very excited about for the season.”

Gardiner football coach Patrick Munzing speaks to the Tigers during practice Aug. 19 at Hoch Field at Gardiner Area High School. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Elsewhere in the Class B North, Messalonskee has a rebuilding job to do after the loss of a massive senior class that snapped a 22-game losing streak dating back to 2017. However, the Eagles, who finished 3- 6 last year, they have key returning defenders in defensive backs Garrett Card and Sam Dube.

Rounding out the local teams in Class B is Mt. Blue, which has a new head coach in Matt Friedman. The Cougars possess a potent dual-threat quarterback leading the offense in senior Jayden Meader and also bring back Hayden Dippner and Maurice Romanyshyn in the running game.

A class down, Winslow looks to repeat as champion at C North. It will by no means be an easy task for the Black Raiders, who tragically lost co-head coach Pete Bolduc in the offseason, and must replace a regular 100-yard rusher in Evan Bourget and four burly offensive linemen in Will Harvey, Joseph Pfingst. , Allan Rogers and Owen Schuchardt.

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It’s Winslow, though, and every Saturday afternoon in the fall at Poulin Field, the success of the Black Raiders is expected. Matt Quirion, who complemented Bourget in the running game last year, is back, as is veteran quarterback Jared Newgard. Wes Littlefield’s team also has two solid returning linemen in Joe Lessa and Jaxon Wiegand.

“We’re replacing 12 seniors and a lot of linemen, and that’s always a tough thing to do,” said Littlefield, who has assumed all head coaching duties. “We’re going to be young up front, but we’ve got some good starters coming back and a group to work with.”

Messalonskee and Brunswick meet on August 27 in Oakland. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

While many of the traditional contenders in Central Maine held onto their spots at or near the top last season, another, Central Maine Institute, had a bit of a down year. The Huskies, who were 58-11 with two state titles and five regional crowns from 2014-19, had their first losing season in nine years by going 2-5.

That DNF, co-head coach Tom Bertrand said, was one that those on the MCI show expected as they looked at the numbers. This year, the Huskies hope to step back to the forefront of the Class C North with Kyle Hall at quarterback on an offensive line that includes Gavin Hanscom and Wyatt Robinson.

“We certainly had a peak with those [2014-19] teams, but we knew things were going to come back to Earth a little bit,” said Bertrand, who will split head-coaching duties with his eldest son, Alex, this season. “Our numbers are down a little bit, but we’ve had a lot of good energy and we’ve made a lot of progress over the summer and preseason.”

Rounding out the local Class C North field is Nokomis, who went 1-7 last year. Five of the Warriors’ seven losses have come by a single touchdown.

That defense’s leading player, linebacker Isaiah Morin, returns for Nokomis in 2022. The Warriors also bring back another key pair of tacklers in fellow seniors Aaron Mooers and Madden White. Those three players also contributed for Nokomis on offense last season.

Bertrand cited Winslow, Hermon and Medomak Valley as the top three teams in Class C North. Although the Littlefield Black Raiders are the region’s defending champions, he called the Hawks, whom Winslow beat 38-30 in last year’s Northern Maine title game, the team to beat this fall.

“They’re going to be really tough,” Littlefield said of Hermon. “They fought us in the (regional title game) last year, and it looks like they’re going to bring everyone back with the exception of a couple of kids. I would say you have to look at them first.”

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