Aaron Filieo, Cape Elizabeth’s football coach since 2003, earned his 100th victory with the Capers last Friday when he led them to a 14-0 victory over Fryeburg Academy in a Class C South semifinal.
The Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth football teams took another step last weekend toward capturing a highly coveted Gold Ball, winning semifinal round playoff games at home, and now, the Capers and Red Storm will host regional finals Friday evening with a trip to the state final at stake.
Scarborough, ranked first in Class A South after a 7-1 regular season, earned a bye into last Friday’s semifinal round and made quick work of No. 5 Sanford, a team the Red Storm handled at home, 49-15, back on Sept. 8.
Scarborough raced to a 27-0 lead after one quarter, as quarterback Zoltan Panyi scored on a 5-yard run, Jarret Flaker broke free for a 55-yard TD scamper, Panyi hit Connor Kelly for 8-yards and Owen Garrard scored on a 1-yard run. In the second period, Panyi scampered for an 84-yard run, then hit Garrard for a 23-yard TD and a 40-0 advantage at halftime. A 5-yard Panyi touchdown run in the third quarter made it 47-0 and after the Spartans got on the board late in the frame, Andrew Granzier scored on a 7-yard run early in the fourth period. Sanford added a late touchdown and two-point conversion, but the Red Storm rolled to a 53-15 victory.
Panyi completed all four passes he threw for 108 yards and two scores and ran seven times for 115 yards and three TDs. Cody Dudley (6.5 tackles) and Reece Lagerquist (5.5 tackles) sparked the defense.
“Our players came out focused and executed very well in the first half,” said Scarborough coach Lance Johnson. “Offensively, we shared the ball and spread the field with our speed and athleticism. Defensively, we held Sanford to 24 yards of offense and one first down in the first half. I was a little nervous about how the bye week would affect our players, but they came out ready to play hard and were very physical on both sides of the ball.”
The Red Storm will next host perennial powerhouse and No. 2 seed Thornton Academy (8-1) in a regional final showdown Friday at 7 p.m. (see theforecaster.net for game story).
On Sept. 15, the Golden Trojans rallied to beat host Scarborough, 32-28. Thornton Academy is coming off a 28-24 win over third-ranked Bonny Eagle, the defending state champion, in its semifinal and has won three of the previous four playoff meetings against the Red Storm. Scarborough did break through last year, however, rallying for a palpitating 36-29 victory in the semifinals.
“We are very excited to be back in the Southern Maine championship game,” Johnson said. “We have been trying to focus on one game at a time, but obviously our players have been thinking about playing in November since last year. Our seniors have put in countless hours of work over the last year to prepare for this game and we expect them to play very well on Friday. It should be a great match-up of two teams that are peaking at the right time of year.”
A Red Storm win Friday would send them to just their second-ever state final and first in Class A, Saturday, Nov. 18 at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland against either Portland or Windham.
While the big news last weekend was Cape Elizabeth winning to advance to the regional final for the second year in a row, the Capers’ 14-0 home triumph over Fryeburg Academy also proved to be a milestone victory for longtime coach Aaron Filieo.
Cape Elizabeth, ranked second in Class C South, met the third-ranked Raiders in a rematch of a 23-7 home victory Oct. 13 and while the second time around proved more difficult, a stellar defensive effort proved to be the difference.
Ryan Weare’s 3-yard touchdown run made it 6-0 Capers at halftime and after some anxious moments, Cape Elizabeth put it away early in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Andrew Hartel hit Jacob Brydson for a 31-yard scoring pass and Hartel added a two-point conversion pass to Jack Glanville. The Capers’ defense slammed the door from there, pitched the 14-0 shutout and in the process, gave Filieo his 100th career victory.
“It doesn’t mean much to me, as 101 and 102 are much more important,” said Filieo, who has led Cape Elizabeth to the playoffs in 12 straight seasons, leading the Capers to a winning record in 11 of those years. “Our goal is to be a perennial contender. I can’t imagine an offseason or a preseason knowing we’re not in it. We always have a shot.
“We had to grind it out (against Fryeburg). There was a pretty heavy wind going across the field which was unexpected, then it turned. Fryeburg came to play, but in all my years at Cape Elizabeth, it was one of the best defensive performances we’ve had in a big game.”
The Capers (8-2) will host No. 4 seed Gardiner (5-5) Friday at 7 p.m. in the Class C South Final. On Sept. 9, Cape Elizabeth won, 21-13, at the Tigers. The teams have no playoff history. Gardiner is coming off a semifinal round upset of top-seeded Leavitt in its semifinal.
After falling at home to Wells in last year’s regional final, this group of Capers won’t be content with anything short of a trip to the state game.
“Gardiner played us tough last time and they’re feisty like us,” Filieo said. “It’s different this year. Wells was a mainstay. We knew we had to go through them. This year, we’re playing a potential ‘team of destiny,’ but these guys have a genuine love for the game and an edge that we haven’t had in years. Our motto is, ‘Old School.'”
A victory Friday would send Cape Elizabeth to just its second-ever state final, against either Maine Central Institute or Mt. Desert Island, Friday, Nov. 17 at the University of Maine in Orono.