One down, 11 to go for Cape Elizabeth; Capers excel early, roll to workmanlike 32-0 season-opening win at Poland
POLAND—It took the Cape Elizabeth football team less than two minutes to seize control of its season-opening contest Saturday afternoon in Poland, but despite a 19-point first period, the Capers never pulled away to an expected romp over the improved Knights.
Poland was able to move the ball at times, but never reached paydirt and Cape Elizabeth's offensive balance was more than enough as it improved to 1-0 with a 32-0 win.
Senior running back extraordinaire Tommy Foden had 159 yards and three TDs on the ground, to pace the effort.
"It was a good way to start the year," said Foden. "We wanted to come out and hit them with a thump and keep going strong. We did well offensively."
Eye on the prize
Cape Elizabeth has emerged as a top threat to Mountain Valley the past three seasons, but hasn't been able to dethrone the mighty Falcons. Yet.
The Capers feel as if this could be their year and they should be one of the finest teams in Class B if everything comes together.
Poland, meanwhile, is still a developing program. Saturday, after a slow start, the Knights showed there is reason for optimism.
Cape Elizabeth took the opening kickoff and began at its 37. After an 8-yard pass from senior quarterback Ezra Wolfinger to senior Finn Melanson was negated by a penalty and Foden gained 5-yards on a run, Wolfinger found Melanson for 34-yards and a first down at the Poland 29. On the next play, Foden took a handoff, ran up the gut, then broke two tackles en route to the end zone for the Capers' first points of the season. Senior Matt Donovan's extra point made it 7-0.
Cape Elizabeth got the ball right back when on the Knights' first play of the ensuing possession, a fumbled exchange popped into the hands of Capers' junior Jack Barber at the Poland 30.
Five plays later, the visitors were on the board again. First, Cape Elizabeth had to convert a fourth-and-6 and did so thanks to an 11-yard run from Foden. On the next play, Wolfinger found promising new junior receiver Leandre Some for a 15-yard score. Some caught the pass at the 5, deked a defender, then strolled into the end zone. The point-after was no good, but the Capers were up 13-0 just over four minutes into the contest.
The Knights picked up a first down on their next series as their running game was able to move the ball, but Cape Elizabeth turned up its defense and forced a punt.
The Capers began their next series at their 45 and took just two plays to score again. After a 3-yard run by Foden, Foden again went up the middle, cut right, then rode a nice block from Melanson and cruised down the right sideline for a 52-yard touchdown which made it 19-0. Again, the point-after failed.
Cape Elizabeth ended the first period with a 19-0 lead and a 148-42 edge in yardage.
Poland drove into Capers' territory on its next series, which carried into the start of the second quarter, but on fourth-and-4 and the Cape Elizabeth 33, a fumbled exchange was grabbed by Capers junior Jack McDonald at the 34.
Cape Elizabeth then drove 66 yards on 14 plays in an impressive display of ball control which ate up almost eight minutes. Barber broke off a 13-yard run, Wolfinger completed passes to senior Caleb Tracey for 8-yards, Melanson for 9 and senior Brenden Shields for 20. Finally, on fourth-and-goal at the 1, Wolfinger kept the ball and on second effort, barely broke the plane for a touchdown with 1:46 to go in the half. The extra point was no good, but the Capers led 25-0 at the break.
Foden ran for 145 yards and Wolfinger completed 5-of-7 passes for 86 yards and a score in the first 24 minutes. Two Poland turnovers helped Cape Elizabeth's cause as well.
After the hosts fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half (senior Steve Homa recovered for the Capers), Cape Elizabeth made it 32-0 on a 14-yard TD run from Foden (his lone carry of the second half). This time, Donovan's extra point was good and the scoring was complete.
The Knights had possession of the ball for most of the remainder of the game and while they picked up several first downs and had some nice runs, they could never get close enough to the Capers' goal line to threaten to score.
Cape Elizabeth went on to the 32-0 win. Despite the relative ease in victory, the Capers know that a lot of work remains.
"We still need to work on blocking assignments and that kind of stuff," said Foden. "It was a good game for us to work on things. They gave us a good battle. It was a good learning experience. When the line's doing what they're supposed to, there's no stopping us."
"Obviously, we have some stuff we need to clean up," added Cape Elizabeth coach Aaron Filieo. "I like some of the things I saw. Our running backs ran hard. Our offensive line was good with their assignments. We need to be a little more physical up front. Overall, good things, but we definitely have stuff we need to work on.
"They have a good fullback and a good quarterback. Their whole offense plays to their strength. That's what good coaching is all about. It was good for us because we had to physical."
The Capers wound up with a 282-155 edge in yardage and forced three turnovers. Wolfinger threw for 97 yards on 6-of-8 passing with one TD and ran for another. Melanson led the receivers with 54 yards on three catches.
Cape Elizabeth will have no trouble elevating its game for its next foe: rival York (which plays Saturday night at Falmouth). That showdown, which figures to feature a playoff environment, will be held Friday night. Last year, the Capers downed the Wildcats 32-12 at home in the season opener, then rallied for a 21-13 victory in the Western B semifinals.
"I know what they presented last year and they were a good playoff team last year," Filieo said, of the Wildcats. "They have a lot of those guys coming back. I expect it will be a good game."
"I can't wait," Foden added. "It should be fun. I'm looking forward to seeing my buddies down there."
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.