Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough’s football teams took part in the opening weekend of the playoffs last weekend and both teams competed well.
Friday night, the Red Storm hosted Sanford in Western A and broke open a close game in the second half to win, 42-16.
Many miles to the south, the Capers enjoyed an early lead at top-ranked Marshwood, but couldn’t build on it and ultimately went down to a 27-7 defeat.
Scarborough was 6-2 in the regular season and earned the No. 3 seed in Western Class A. The Red Storm hosted sixth-ranked Sanford in the quarterfinals. The teams didn’t play in the regular season and had no playoff history.
They have one now and it featured a large dose of Dillon Russo.
Scarborough’s standout quarterback gave his team an early 7-0 lead with a touchdown pass to Dan LeClair. After Sanford’s star Alex Shain tied the game with a TD run and the visitors momentarily went on top on a field goal, Russo hit Chris Cyr with a scoring pass to put the Red Storm ahead to stay, 14-10 at halftime. A Russo-to-Greg Viola TD pass pushed the lead to 21-10 after three quarters. Then, in the final stanza, Scarborough put it away as Russo found Viola from 61-yards out, Ben Greenberg returned an interception 60 yards for a score and after a Shain TD run, Russo found Cyr for his fifth touchdown pass of the game, bringing the curtain down on the 42-16 victory.
Russo finished with 280 passing yards and also tied Nik Pelletier for the team lead with 11 defensive tackles, Viola had eight receptions for 185 yards and two TDs and Cyr caught four balls for 75 yards and two scores.
“I thought we played very well offensively once we started throwing and catching the ball,” said Scarborough coach Lance Johnson. “We missed some open guys and dropped a couple of balls early. We have great athleticism in our receivers and we make teams cover all five eligible receivers and tackle Russo on the draw. Defensively, we wore Sanford down in the second half after giving up some yardage in the first half. We we bolstered by the return of big defensive tackle Devon Stanford.”
The Red Storm advanced to face second-ranked Thornton Academy (8-1, after surviving Kennebunk, 42-34, in its quarterfinal) Saturday at 1 p.m. in the semifinals. Scarborough lost, 35-7, at the Golden Trojans Sept. 29, in a game that was closer than the final score indicated. The teams have no playoff history.
The Red Storm will go to Saco with nothing to lose.
“TA will certainly be a big challenge for us,” said Johnson. “They are very strong and experienced at all the skill positions on offense and defense. We are excited for the opportunity to compete together for another week. Our team is determined to play our very best on Saturday.”
Scarborough is hoping to reach a first-ever Western A Final Nov. 10 against either two-time defending Class A champion Cheverus (9-0) or Portland (6-3).
Cape Elizabeth earned the eighth and final Western B playoff spot with a 3-5 mark and made it seven straight postseason appearances, but had to go to No. 1 Marshwood for the quarterfinals. On Oct. 5, the Capers lost at the Hawks, 20-0. The teams had no playoff history.
Friday, Cape Elizabeth had a great shot at springing a major upset.
Noah Wolfinger hit Cam Wilson with a touchdown pass to give the Capers a 7-0 lead after one quarter. The Capers had opportunities to add to their lead, but failed to do so.
Marshwood got its act together in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in both the third and fourth periods and went on to a 27-7 win, ending Cape Elizabeth’s season at 3-6.
“We put a scare into them,” said Capers coach Aaron Filieo. “That’s the theme of our season, play tough and go nose-to-nose with the best. We had chances to go up 14-0, but we had a TD called back on a holding penalty and turned the ball over on downs deep in their territory, so it was just a one-score game at halftime. They didn’t necessarily wear us down in the second half. We lost two impact players, Nick Moulton and Ethan Murphy, but we tried to continue to press them and turned it over twice.”
Cape Elizabeth’s final record is misleading. The Capers pushed several of the league’s top temas, but averaging a little over 12 points a game spelled some tough losses.
“I told (the guys) that I’ve coached three-win teams before and it was a completely different feeling this year,” Filieo said. “You can only play the cards you’re dealt, but these guys competed every game. We lost at least two guys a week to injuries and they stayed positive. I credit the senior leadership and the young guys stepping up. The season was a success.”
Cape Elizabeth should be right back among the top contenders in 2013.
“The expectations will be higher next year,” Filieo. “We only lose six seniors, but our offensive and defensive lines will be thinned. We do have all our skill guys back. We expect to get back to our winning ways.”