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Cape Elizabeth senior Ryan Weare rushes for some of his 169 yards during the Capers’ 35-13 win over Gardiner in Friday’s Class C South Final. Weare and his teammates will battle MCI in the state final this coming Friday in Orono.
Joe Phelan / Press Herald photo.
Cape Elizabeth’s 15-year quest for a state championship is now 48 minutes from realization.
Last Friday night, the Capers handled visiting Gardiner, 35-13, in the Class C South Final and this coming Friday, Cape Elizabeth will travel to the University of Maine in Orono to meet Maine Central Institute with a title on the line.
Last fall, undefeated Cape Elizabeth hosted the Class C South Final, but lost to a Wells team it had defeated in the regular season final. The Warriors went on to win the championship and the Capers were left to lament what-if.
This time around, Cape Elizabeth isn’t prepared to settle for anything short of a Gold Ball.
The second-seeded Capers hosted No. 4 Gardiner in the Class C South final last Friday and behind the bruising running of Ryan Weare and an opportunistic defense, rolled to a 35-13 victory and the program’s second-ever regional championship.
Weare put Cape Elizabeth on top with a 7-yard run in the first period.
“It’s always good to score first,” said Capers coach Aaron Filieo. “That can give you a psychological edge. That first drive was a big statement. Tackling Ryan on a night like that wasn’t fun. We kept feeding him and I felt we played sound defense and we kept momentum on our side.”
After quarterback Andrew Hartel found Matt Laughlin for a 31-yard touchdown, the lead was 13-0 after one quarter. Weare added a 2-yard run and Hartel hit Sean O’Sullivan with a two-point conversion pass for a 21-0 halftime advantage.
After the Tigers got on the board in the third period, Weare countered with another 2-yard run, making it 28-7. In the fourth quarter, Hartel hooked up with Matt Conley for an 11-yard score and while Gardiner got another touchdown later, the Capers prevailed with relative ease and improved to 9-2 on the season.
Cape Elizabeth forced five turnovers and got 169 yards and three TDs from Weare.
“It’s just a different crew this year,” Filieo said. “The expectations were high last year, especially after we beat Wells. These guys just have fun and play the game how it should be played and in the process, they win games.”
The Capers will meet MCI (7-4) in the Class C state final Friday at 7 p.m., at the University of Maine in Orono (see theforecaster.net for game story). On Sept. 22, Cape Elizabeth handled the visiting Huskies, 35-15. The teams have no playoff history.
The Capers, who lost, 35-21, to Leavitt in their only previous state game appearance (2009, in the Class B Final), know that history is close enough to taste and they’ll bring their best effort north with them this weekend.
“MCI is playing at a high level right now, but so are we,” Filieo said. “There are some things I think we can do against them. If they bring the same level of physicality they brought in their regional final to us, it’ll be a tough game, but our guys will respond. It will be a fun experience.”