Cape, Scarborough fall in football regional finals

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Scarborough’s Cody Dudley hauls in a touchdown pass during the Red Storm’s 40-20 loss at Bonny Eagle in last Friday’s Class A South Final.

Cape Elizabeth running back Ryan Weare gets a block from Peyton Weatherbie during the Capers’ 27-14 loss to Wells in Saturday’s Class C South Final.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Wells game story, with a box score and additional photos, see theforecaster.net).

Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough’s football teams had their championship dreams squashed last weekend in the regional final round.

The Capers, the undefeated top seed in Class C South, lost at home to No. 2 Wells, 27-14.

The Red Storm, the third seed in Class A South, weren’t able to repeat their upset magic of a week before and lost at top-ranked, preseason favorite Bonny Eagle, 40-20.

Disappointment

From day one this fall, Cape Elizabeth and Wells were at one level in Class C South and everyone else was at another. The Capers and Warriors both rolled in their seven games that weren’t against the other and when they did square off, in the regular season finale Oct. 21 in Wells, Cape Elizabeth built an early 13-0 lead and held on despite a second half deluge to win, 13-7, and earn the top seed in the region.

Neither team was tested in the playoffs, as the Capers downed No. 8 Poland (40-6) and fourth-ranked Spruce Mountain (43-7) and the second-seeded Warriors enjoyed victories over No. 7 Yarmouth (56-12) and No. 3 Fryeburg Academy (35-0).

The Capers and Warriors had met four previous times in the playoffs, dating back to 2009, and Wells won on three occasions, including last year’s stunning 20-14 come-from-behind victory at Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals.

This time around, the Warriors scored first, as Evan Whitten scored on a first quarter 8-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead. The Capers settled down, however, and with 51 seconds to go in the first half, quarterback Jeb Boeschenstein hit Ben Ekedahl with a 25-yard TD pass and the teams went to the half deadlocked, 7-7.

Wells tightened up defensively in the third quarter and thanks to a nice mix of running and passing, drove for the go-ahead score, as quarterback Owen Berry hit Riley Dempsey for a 23-yard touchdown, making it 14-7.

Cape Elizabeth was unable to answer and the Warriors got some breathing room when Berry kept the ball and scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth period. A late 3-yard run from Dempsey all but iced the victory and even though the Capers got a late 60-yard strike from Ekedahl to Boeschenstein, Wells went on to a 27-14 victory.

The Warriors improved to 10-1, won their first regional title since 2011, ended Cape Elizabeth’s fine season at 10-1 and advanced to battle Mt. Desert Island (9-1) in the Class C state final Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.

“It’s a painful loss, no question about it,” lamented Capers coach Aaron Filieo. “Sometimes, things just don’t pan out. Against a good team in a game like this, you have to have things go your way a little bit, but we couldn’t get any breaks.”

Cape Elizabeth finished with 217 yards of offense, but the Capers only managed 65 after halftime.

Boeschenstein went 11 of 20 passing, good for 83 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also had a 60-yard touchdown reception on Ekedahl’s lone pass. Ekedahl was a matchup nightmare for the Warriors much of the day, catching six passes for 59 yards with a TD, throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass and rushing five times for 4 yards. 

Cape Elizabeth was flagged six times for 61 yards.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Filieo said. “That’s more to their credit that it being any fault of our guys. They converted just every third down imaginable. It didn’t matter what the distance was. It wasn’t turnovers or special teams, it was the making plays when they had to make them. We had some things we thought we could do. It’s one thing on paper, but we just couldn’t execute.”

The Capers had a terrific season, but that record rung hollow in the aftermath of Saturday’s setback.

“I feel like we’re as good as we were all year long,” Filieo said. “When the dust settles, the guys will realize it was a good year, but we had our sights set bigger. It’ll take awhile to lick our wounds.”

Cape Elizabeth will be hard hit by graduation as most of its key contributors will depart. 

“The seniors just continued the tradition of keeping this program playing at a high level and they were fun to be around,” Filieo said. “It was a close-knit group.”

The 2017 Capers will make another run at an elusive state championship.

“We hope to finally break through,” Filieo said. “But we’ll have to wait until next year.”

Midnight strikes

Scarborough turned heads from day one this season, upsetting defending Class A North champion Portland in the opener. The Red Storm lost only to Bonny Eagle and two-time defending champion Thornton Academy during the regular season, then advanced with a decisive quarterfinal round over No. 6 South Portland (42-6) and a stunning semifinal round upset at the second-ranked Golden Trojans, 36-29.

That sent Scarborough to Bonny Eagle for the regional final. On Sept. 9, the Scots won in Scarborough, 21-7, in a game the Red Storm squandered several opportunities. Bonny Eagle won the lone prior playoff encounter, 27-0, in the 2013 semifinals.

This time around, Scarborough kept it closer, but the Scots pulled away to advance.

After Bonny Eagle got on the board first, but couldn’t produce the two-point conversion, the Red Storm took a 7-6 lead, as quarterback Zoltan Panyi hit Cody Dudley from 35 yards out. That advantage didn’t last long, as the Scots answered with a long TD run to go up, 13-7, after one period. That score stood at halftime as well, before Bonny Eagle opened it up in the third quarter.

The Scots made it 26-7 with a pair of scores before Panyi and Dudley connected again, this time from 55 yards out, to make the score 26-14. Bonny Eagle delivered a painful answer, however, returning the ensuing kickoff for a TD and a 33-14 advantage heading for the final stanza.

There, Panyi hit Reece Lagerquist with a touchdown pass, but the two-point conversion failed. The Scots then delivered the coup de grace with a short TD run and ended Scarborough’s season at 8-3 with a 40-20 decision. 

“We gave up too many big plays to compete with a team like Bonny Eagle,” said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. “For the most part, we competed and played a fairly even game with them, but we gave up a big screen pass, a long run and a kickoff return. You can’t give up those types of plays in games like that and expect to win. I am proud of our players, particularly our seniors, for playing hard right until the end. They were able to hold their heads high and walk off the field proud of their efforts.

“The loss is still fresh in my mind, but I can’t help but feel that our program took a big step forward this year. We competed better physically and mentally at practice and in games. We had a defense that gave up under 16 points per game while playing Thornton twice, Bonny Eagle twice and Portland. I am very proud of the physical style of football we were playing at the end of the season on both sides of the ball. I could not be more proud of our players for the toughness and determination they showed starting with workouts back in June.”

Consensus held this fall that Scarborough was a year away. If so, the Red Storm should be very strong in 2017 and could take the final step.

“Things look very good for the future,” Johnson said. “Offensively, we return Zoltan at quarterback, Owen Garrard at running back, Reece at tight end, Connor Kelly at receiver, Cody at running back and wide receiver and four out of five starting lineman, Zach Reed, Ben Hughes, Alex Bryer and Anthony Griffin.

“Defensively, we return Cody Dudley, Jeremy Sendrowski and Eric Quirk as defensive back, Owen Garrard and Reece Lagerquist at linebacker and Anthony Griffin at defensive line. We have a very good group of sophomores and freshmen who will push the upperclassmen to keep working hard.

“We have depth in the program, particularly in our lines coming up and that should keep us very competitive for the next few years. It will take a tremendous work ethic and discipline to continue to improve, but I have faith that our players will make the commitment needed.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.