Cape Elizabeth senior quarterback Jeb Boechenstein celebrates a first quarter touchdown during the Capers’ dramatic 13-7 win at Wells Friday night in the rain.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
CE- 13 0 0 0- 13
W- 0 0 7 0- 7
CE- Weare 1 run (Peterson kick)
CE- Weatherbie 2 run (kick failed)
W- Whitten 11 run (Reidy kick)
WELLS—It was only a dose of revenge and it was served wet, not cold, but Cape Elizabeth’s football team had its character tested Friday evening and passed with flying colors.
And as a result, the Capers now have inside track to achieve their ultimate goal.
To play on the biggest stage of all next month and win the program’s first Gold Ball.
In a long awaited showdown at last year’s nemesis, Wells, at Warrior Memorial Field, Cape Elizabeth had to get past a talented, seasoned foe and survive the elements as well.
The Capers couldn’t have asked for a better start, as the Warriors fumbled on the game’s first play, but the visitors couldn’t punch it in.
Wells continued to play the role of gracious host on its next series, fumbling again and this time, Cape Elizabeth went ahead to stay when senior Ryan Weare bulled in from the 1 with 7:05 to go in the first quarter.
After junior Jack Glanville blocked a punt, senior Peyton Weatherbie scored on a 2-yard run with 4:42 remaining in the frame and it appeared as if the Capers might be en route to an easy victory, but they wouldn’t score again.
After a miscue on a Cape Elizabeth punt late in the third period, the Warriors took advantage of good field position and got on the board on an amazing individual effort by senior Evan Whitten, who refused to be tackled and fought his way into the end zone for an 11-yard TD, cutting the deficit to 13-7.
The Capers defense wasn’t about to let Wells steal this one, however, as seniors Nat Spicer and Ben Ekedahl intercepted passes late and Cape Elizabeth went on to the victory.
The Capers finished the regular season 8-0, dropped the Warriors to 7-1 and best of all, locked up the top seed for the Class C South playoffs, guaranteeing homefield advantage throughout the regional tournament.
“I like to play a game like this once,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Aaron Filieo. “I’m glad we did and I’m glad we won. It lived up to billing. I hope it does again in the regional championship, if we get there.”
It’s been clear since the beginning of the season that Cape Elizabeth and Wells were on a collision course as the best teams in the region.
The Warriors, who dropped an agonizing 17-14 decision at Yarmouth in last year’s regional final, opened by winning at Spruce Mountain, 32-6. After blanking visiting Freeport, 53-0, Wells won at Fryeburg Academy, 35-18, downed visiting Mountain Valley, 49-6, visiting Yarmouth, 54-7, host Lake Region, 60-0, and host Gray-New Gloucester, 52-0.
The Capers, who had their hearts broken by Wells in last year’s semifinals, has been equally dominant. Cape Elizabeth opened with a 29-6 victory at Fryeburg Academy, then won at Poland, 42-0. Home romps over Spruce Mountain (55-12) and Freeport (42-6) were followed by a 45-9 win at Mountain Valley. After a 57-0 home win over Gray-New Gloucester, the Capers closed the home portion of their regular season schedule with a 56-0 shutout of Yarmouth.
Last year, Wells won at Cape Elizabeth in the regular season finale, 15-0, then rallied to shock the Capers, 20-14, on a late touchdown in the Class C South semifinals to take an 8-6 all-time lead in the series (see sidebar, below).
This time around, on an evening that started dry and warm (62 degrees) and ended in a downpour, Cape Elizabeth did just enough to cap a perfect regular season.
The Capers won the opening coin toss and deferred possession to the second half.
That wound up being a wise move, as in an inauspicious beginning for the hosts, senior Nick Hansen fielded the opening kickoff at his 5, but slipped and when his knee hit the ground, the Warriors had to start in poor field position.
Whitten gained six yards on first down, but he fumbled and Cape Elizabeth senior Brett McAlister pounced on the ball at the Wells 15.
The Capers were in great position to take a quick lead, but they came up just short.
After Weare ran for three yards, senior quarterback Jeb Boeschenstein’s pass to Weare in the flat, which looked as if it would result in a sure score, was dropped. McAlister ran for seven yards, setting up fourth-and-inches and Weare picked it up, gaining a yard to the 4. After Boeschenstein threw an incomplete pass, Weare was thrown for a one yard loss by junior Sean McCormack-Kuhman and McAlister got a yard back, setting up fourth-and-goal at the 4. Wells jumped offsides to get Cape Elizabeth two yards closer, but a fumbled exchange ended the drive, as the Warriors took over at their 8.
After Whitten was held for no gain, senior Riley Dempsey got the ball and fumbled and Capers senior Camden Turner recovered at the Wells 2.
This time, Cape Elizabeth took advantage, even if it took four plays.
Weare ran on first down and got a yard, but on second down, a fumbled exchange lost a yard. McAlister gained a yard on third down, setting up fourth-and-goal from the 1 and this time, Weare bulled his way in with 7:05 remaining in the opening stanza.
“I was very angry when we didn’t score (the first time), but we made up for it and got that touchdown,” Weare said. “I was glad we were able to take advantage.”
Senior Marshall Peterson added the extra point and the Capers had a 7-0 lead.
Wells didn’t turn the ball over on its next possession, but it still ended in disaster.
Starting at their 17, the Warriors got a six yard gain from Whitten on first down, but Ekedahl threw Whitten for a four yard loss on second down. After senior quarterback Owen Berry threw incomplete, junior Ethan Marsh dropped back to punt, but Glanville broke through the line and blocked it, giving the Capers the ball at the Wells 6.
This time, it took only two plays for Cape Elizabeth to strike paydirt, as Weare caught a pass from Boeschenstein for four yards and Weatherbie broke the plane for a 2-yard scoring run with 4:42 left in the quarter.
Peterson’s PAT sailed wide right and glanced off the outside of the crossbar, keeping the Capers on top, 13-0.
Wells got a decent drive going on its next possession, as it marched from its 39 into Cape Elizabeth territory.
After Dempsey was brought down for no gain by senior Max Woods, the Capers jumped offsides and Whitten ran for two yards with a personal foul facemask penalty tacked on, giving the Warriors a first down at the Capers’ 39. Dempsey ran for two yards and Hansen moved the chains with a 10 yard burst to the 27. Weare held Whitten to no gain and Berry threw incomplete, but a roughing the passer call on Cape Elizabeth gave Wells a first down at the 14. That’s as close as the Warriors would get to the end zone, however, as they were flagged for a false start, McAlister threw Dempsey for a two yard loss, Peterson dropped senior Jake Spofford for a four yard loss and after Berry scrambled for 18 yards to the 7 on third-and-21, Ekedahl held Dempsey to no gain, giving the Capers the ball back at their 7.
On the final play of the first quarter, Glanville was held to no gain and on the first play of the second period, Glanville gained a yard, setting the stage for the visitors’ biggest pass play of the night, a 39 yard connection from Boeschenstein to Ekedahl to the 47. Weatherbie gained four yards and Glanville ran for nine more and a first down at the Wells 40. After Weatherbie ran for five yards, Weare ran four yards, then was held to no gain, setting up fourth down. A false start penalty backed the Capers up, but Boeschenstein scrambled for six yards and a first down at the 30. After an incomplete pass (and an offensive pass interference penalty on the play), Ekedahl was held to no gain, Boeschenstein threw incomplete and Weatherbie caught a pass for no gain, Peterson’s punt pinned the Warriors at their 16.
Wells started its next drive with an 11 yard Dempsey run, but after Whitten gained two yards, Berry threw incomplete and after a false start penalty, Cape Elizabeth sophomore Bear Huffard dropped Dempsey for a two yard loss, forcing a punt.
With 4:57 left before halftime, the Capers started at the 49, but couldn’t take advantage.
Weare, Glanville and Glanville again each gained three yards on the ground and on fourth-and-1, Weatherbie picked up six for a first down at the 34. After Weatherbie ran for two yards, Boeschenstein threw incomplete and McAlister’s two yard run set up fourth-and-6. Boeschenstein then tried to hit Ekedahl in the end zone, but Wells senior Keegan Reidy broke it up, giving the Warriors the ball back at their 30 with 1:31 remaining in the half.
Wells got a two yard run from Dempsey, then began to move, as senior Jordan Cluff dove to make a catch for an 11 yard gain. Whitten ran for eight yards and after an incomplete pass, junior Michael Wrigley’s three yard run moved the chains again. After an incomplete pass, Berry scrambled left for 17 yards to the Capers’ 29. The Warriors then dug into their bag of tricks, as Berry threw to Cluff, who pitched the ball to Hansen on the hook-and-ladder and Hansen got out of bounds at the 18 with 1 second left. Berry then threw a Hail Mary to the end zone, but Ekedahl knocked the ball down and Cape Elizabeth had a 13-0 lead at the break.
In the first half, the Capers were outgained, 131-82, but were seemingly in control of the contest.
Cape Elizabeth then held the ball for more than six minutes to start the third quarter, but couldn’t add to its lead.
Starting at their 23, the Capers got a five yard run from Weare and after McAlister lost a yard, Weare made a nice catch on a ball thrown behind him for a nine yard gain and a first down at the 36. Boeschenstein then hit Ekedahl for eight yards and after Weatherbie was held to no gain, Glanville’s two yard run moved the chains. Glanville gained another yard, as did Weatherbie, and after Boeschenstein and Ekedahl hooked up through the air for five, Wells was called for having 12 men on the field, giving Cape Elizabeth a first down at the Warriors’ 42. Boeschenstein threw incomplete and Weatherbie ran for two yards, but on third-and-8, a 19 yard pass from Boeschenstein to Ekedahl was negated by a holding penalty and after a false start and a delay of game made it third-and-31, Boeschenstein’s pass was picked by a diving Hansen at the Warriors’ 32.
Wells took over with 5:55 left in the third quarter and rain started to fall.
The Warriors weren’t able to pick up a first down, as Whitten ran for two yards, Dempsey gained four and Berry scrambled for two.
With 3:50 to go in the third, the Capers got the ball back at their 30, but they went three-and-out, as Weare ran for four yards, a holding penalty backed them up nine yards, Weare ran for two yards and Glanville gained just one, forcing a punt.
Peterson dropped the ensuing snap and Wells had the break it needed.
With 1:40 left in the frame, the Warriors started at the Cape Elizabeth 27 and three plays and 60 seconds later, they were on the board.
Whitten ran for three yards and Dempsey burst free for 13 to the Capers’ 11.
That set the stage for an amazing individual effort by Whitten, who got the ball and was stopped after a short gain, or so it seemed, but he kept his legs churning and dragged seemingly the whole Cape Elizabeth defense with him into the end zone for a touchdown with 40 seconds remaining in the quarter. Reidy’s extra point cut the Capers’ lead to 13-7.
The rain then turned heavy and remained a factor the rest of the way.
The Capers started their next drive at their 47, but Boeschenstein lost two yards and Ekedahl ran for six yards and fumbled, but senior Jacob Jordan pounced on it to keep possession. After a false start, Boeschenstein threw incomplete and Peterson’s ensuing punt went out of the end zone, giving Wells the ball at its 20 with 10:47 to play.
The Warriors began to drive for what they hoped would be a go-ahead score, but it ended in a turnover.
Dempsey ran for five yards, then sophomore Tyler Bridge gained 10 more on a sweep left for a first down at the 35. On the next snap, Whitten gained 13 yards and a late hit penalty on Cape Elizabeth gave Wells a first down at the Capers’ 37. After Whitten gained two yards, the visitors jumped offsides, but the Warriors gave the five yards right back with a false start penalty. After Bridge gained three yards, Whitten did the same, but on fourth-and-2, Dempsey was lit up by Turner and fumbled. Wells senior Courtland Austin recovered, but Cape Elizabeth got the ball back on downs at its 33 with 7:20 remaining.
The Capers weren’t able to run out the clock, but came up with a huge special teams play to help their cause.
The weather became a bigger factor by the play, as Boeschenstein fumbled a snap and fell on it, then fumbled it again and Weare grabbed it, setting up third-and-13, where Weare rushed for just four yards.
Enter Peterson, who delivered his finest punt of the season, a 57 yard boomer which died at the Warriors’ 9.
Wells had the ball back and another chance to go ahead, but after Huffard stopped Whitten for no gain, Spicer dove to intercept a pass at Wells 19 with 4:20 left.
After Weare ran twice for a total of one yard and Weatherbie was dropped for a four yard loss back to the 22. Filieo called on Peterson to attempt a game clinching field goal, but his 40 yard bid barely sailed wide left, giving the Warriors one final chance with 2:46 remaining.
Berry threw incomplete on first down, then completed a five yard pass to Cluff. On third down, Berry hit Cluff down the left sideline for a big gainer to the Cape Elizabeth 45 with exactly 2 minutes to go.
The Capers’ defense wasn’t about to buckle, however, and after Whitten ran for five yards, Berry was sacked and fumbled, but got the ball back at the 43. Wells took its final timeout, but it didn’t help, as Berry threw a pass over the middle which was tipped by Woods and snared by Ekedahl at the Cape Elizabeth 43.
Just 1:19 remained.
Boeschenstein took a knee on three straight snaps and at 8:11 p.m., the Capers were able to celebrate their 13-7 victory.
“It’s exhilarating,” Weare said. “It’s a great feeling knowing all our hard work paid off. We were up to the challenge. We were ready to go. We had to overcome the weather. We had a couple mishaps, but we persevered. We were able to hold them off. Everyone did their job on defense. That was key for our success.”
“This is what we live for,” Ekedahl said. “It was an amazing game. It was our defense. It’s been amazing all year. We just made the plays at the end. (Wells is) a tough team full of passion, but we were able to win it.”
“We haven’t played this type of game all season and we knew it would be tough,” Filieo added. “I wanted to find out what the guys were made of. I wanted to know if we’d have the mental toughness when the going got tough and we definitely did. It was a character game.”
Cape Elizabeth finished with 121 yards of offense, but made the most of it.
Boeschenstein wound up completing 6-of-15 passes for 65 yards with an interception. Ekedahl had three receptions for 52 yards, Weare caught one pass for 9 yards, Glanville had a reception for 4 yards and Weatherbie’s one catch didn’t result in any yardage.
Weare ran 13 times for 29 yards with a TD. Weatherbie scored a touchdown and picked up 18 yards on nine attempts. Glanville finished with 19 yards on nine carries. McAlister had 10 yards on five rushes.
The Capers were flagged 12 times for 110 yards and turned the ball over once, but forced Wells into four turnovers and blocked a punt.
The Warriors had 213 yards of offense, but only had seven points to show for it.
Berry completed 4-of-12 passes for 55 yards, but was picked twice. He ran three times for 37 yards. Whitten had the best game on the ground, gaining 63 yards and scoring a touchdown on 15 attempts. Dempsey finished with 33 yards on 12 rushes. Cluff caught three passes for 44 yards and Hansen caught one ball for 11.
Wells turned the ball over four times and was penalized five times for 22 yards.
While Cape Elizabeth and Wells each has to win twice to create a rematch in the regional final the weekend of Nov. 11-12, they’ll both be heavily favored to do so.
As the No. 2 seed, the Warriors will likely host Yarmouth (3-5) next weekend in the quarterfinals.
The Capers project to host Poland (2-6), a team they handled by 42 back on Sept. 9. The teams have no playoff history.
Cape Elizabeth is ready to embark on what it hopes is a Gold Ball run.
“We’re a confident team right now,” Ekedahl said. “We like playing together. We have good chemistry. We’ll probably see Wells again.”
“We have some tough games ahead,” Weare said. “It’s a marathon not a sprint. We’re doing pretty well, but we need to keep going.”
“We need to clean up some things,” Filieo added. “We’ll look at the film and see what we need to work on offensively. We felt like we should have had it last year and we let it slip away. Being at home will be huge. We won’t have to deal with weather like this.”
Cape Elizabeth senior Peyton Weatherbie gets past Wells senior Jordan Cluff and into the end zone for the Capers’ second touchdown.
Cape Elizabeth senior Brett McAlister looks for running room.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Ekedahl makes a reception in front of Wells senior Riley Dempsey.
Wells senior Nick Hansen goes all out to intercept a pass.
Wells junior Michael Wrigley knocks down a pass intended for Cape Elizabeth senior Marshall Peterson
Cape Elizabeth seniors Ben Ekedahl and Brett McAlister knock down a pass intended for Wells senior Nick Hansen at the end of the first half.
Cape Elizabeth seniors Ben Ekedahl (1) and Brett McAlister celebrate after a defensive stop.
Wells 15 @ Cape Elizabeth 0
Class C South semifinal
Wells 20 @ Cape Elizabeth 14
@ Wells 49 Cape Elizabeth 7
Wells 21 @ Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Wells 14 Cape Elizabeth 6
@ Wells 14 Cape Elizabeth 7
Western B semifinals
@ Wells 47 Cape Elizabeth 7
@ Cape Elizabeth 40 Wells 0
Western B semifinals
@ Cape Elizabeth 35 Wells 14
Cape Elizabeth 37 @ Wells 0
@ Cape Elizabeth 25 Wells 14
@ Cape Elizabeth 7 Wells 0
@ Wells 14 Cape Elizabeth 0