Cape, Scarborough advance; SP upset
(Ed. Note: For the complete Cape Elizabeth-Yarmouth game story, with additional photos and a detailed box score, please visit theforecaster.net)
Two out of three ain't bad.
That's a quick summation (with a nod to Meatloaf) of the high school football action last weekend, which left Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough still standing and saw South Portland's title hopes dashed.
In Western A, the Red Riots, seeded third, dug a big hole at home against No. 6 Sanford, put forth a furious rally, but in the end fell just short, 33-32.
The Red Storm, the No. 4 seed, had no such trouble in its quarterfinal against No. 5 Biddeford, leading from start to finish in a 45-19 victory, which sets up a compelling semifinal round showdown at top-ranked Bonny Eagle Friday.
In Western C, the fifth-ranked Capers avenged a loss from the regular season, going to No. 4 Yarmouth and coming away with a 27-14 victory. Cape Elizabeth will play at undefeated, top-ranked Leavitt in its semifinal Friday night.
Turning the tables
Cape Elizabeth suffered a 27-7 home loss to Yarmouth on Oct. 11, part of a 5-3 regular season which gave the Capers the No. 5 seed in Western C.
Last Friday, Cape Elizabeth met the Clippers again, this time in Yarmouth, and the Capers almost reversed the score.
Fourth-ranked Yarmouth picked up where it left off last time by driving for a quick touchdown, but the game turned for good in the second period as Cape Elizabeth rode the running of junior Jack Drinan (who, along with Christian Lavallee had a TD run) to a 14-6 halftime advantage.
The Clippers had their chances in the second half, but couldn't cut into their deficit and early in the final stanza, another Drinan TD run, followed by a short scoring run from senior Nick Moulton, put the game out of reach. Yarmouth got a cosmetic touchdown in the waning seconds, but Cape Elizabeth had the last laugh, prevailing, 27-14.
"We probably played our best game of the season," said Cape Elizabeth defensive standout Caelan Houle, who had a pair of sacks. "They knocked us down early on, but we didn't give up. We played as hard as we could. We had a chip on our shoulder. We made sure we were ready for this. It's a huge step up from last season. We're moving in the right direction. We're under the radar, but we've gotten better as the season progressed."
"We were still really mad from last time," said Drinan, who had 198 yards and two TDs on 28 carries. "We knew we could play better. We weren't going to go out in the first round this year. I love being the underdog, coming in and shutting the home crowd up, playing your game the way you know you can play it."
"We'll definitely enjoy this for the time being because it's been awhile (since we've won a playoff game)," said Capers coach Aaron Filieo. "These guys are just resilient. They don't get high or low and in this game, that's the best way to be. Coming in, we knew we had a good game plan and we executed it. We took the first shot, but we stuck to the plan."
Cape Elizabeth (6-3) will be a decided underdog when it goes to Leavitt (8-0) Friday evening for the semifinals. The Capers played the Hornets tough in the regular season (losing at home, 26-7, in a game that was closer than the score indicated), but doing it on the road in November will be a tall task. Cape Elizabeth lost to Leavitt, 35-21, in the 2009 Class B state final, in the lone prior playoff meeting between the schools.
"The first time against Leavitt, we didn't have as good chemistry and we shot ourselves in the foot," Houle said. ."
"We have to play even better," Drinan said. "Leavitt's a great team. We'll come out as hard as we possibly can, knowing it could be the end of the season or the beginning of something greater. No one is expecting a lot of us."
"We played them tough the first time and we know what to expect," Filieo added. "They're big, they're physical, they're fast. They've been there before. Our guys are playing with confidence right now. What the hell do we have to lose? We'll go up to Turner and have some fun."
If Cape Elizabeth pulls off a shocker, it will go to No. 2 Wells (6-2) or No. 3 Spruce Mountain (7-2) for the Western C Final Nov. 16.
The Class C state final is Saturday, Nov. 23, at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Just getting better
Scarborough won its final four games to wind up 5-3 and fourth in Western A. Friday, the Red Storm hosted a fifth-ranked Biddeford squad it beat, 41-21, Oct. 5 in Scarborough.
The Red Storm shot to a 14-0 first quarter lead behind a touchdown run from Dan LeClair and a TD pass from Ben Greenberg to Brendon Smith. After a LeClair scoring run, the Tigers got on the board, but a long Greenberg-to-Smith scoring pass and a Greenberg TD run made it 33-7 at halftime. After a scoreless third period, Zach Carriero had a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth period and Scarborough went on to a 45-19 win.
"We were very pleased with how we played offensively," said Red Storm coach Lance Johnson. "Our offensive line, led by Mike Pino, Ben Garrard and Patrick Shaw, controlled the game. Dan rushed for 202 yards, Ben rushed for 103 yards and Zach rushed for 63 yards. When we had to pass at the end of the first half, we were able to score twice inside of two minutes. Ben finished with 140 yards passing. Defensively, we shut down their ground game. Our defensive line, led by Mike Pino, Noah Nielsen and Chris Cyr, did an excellent job."
Scarborough (6-3) plays at top-ranked Bonny Eagle (7-1 after a quarterfinal round bye) in the semifinals Friday (see theforecaster.net for game story) six weeks after losing a hard-fought 34-26 decision at the Scots, which proved to be its last loss.
The teams have no playoff history.
"We are going to have to play better against the pass this week against Bonny Eagle," Johnson said. "The team that is physically tougher and mentally tougher will prevail. We must keep our composure and limit mental mistakes. The team that takes care off the football and controls the line of scrimmage will win. Bonny Eagle has earned the number one seed and will be prepared well by Coach (Kevin) Cooper. We embrace the opportunity compete together this week."
If Scarborough can spring the upset, it will either go to No. 2 Thornton Academy (6-2) or host No. 6 Sanford (5-4) in the regional final Nov. 16.
The Class A state final is Saturday, Nov. 23, at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
One point shy
South Portland had high hopes entering the playoffs. Coming off a 5-3 regular season, the high-powered Red Riots earned the No. 3 seed and welcomed sixth-ranked Sanford in the quarterfinals Saturday (the game was postponed from Friday night due to wet conditions). On Oct. 4, South Portland won, 21-10, at the Spartans. The teams last met in the playoffs two years ago, a 33-13 Red Riots win.
This time, however, Sanford sprung the upset.
The Spartans struck first to take 7-0 lead, but South Portland got a long run from quarterback Duncan Preston (and a Preston two-point conversion pass to Jaren Muller) to take its only lead, 8-7. Sanford then scored three straight touchdowns to go ahead, 27-8, at halftime.
The Red Riots, no strangers to dramatic second half rallies, got a third quarter TD pass from Preston to Hayden Owen to make it 27-14, but a long Spartans touchdown run early in the fourth period made it 33-14 and appeared to seal South Portland's doom.
Instead, the Red Riots got touchdown passes from Preston to Jordan Susi, Joey DiBiase and finally Matt Stearns to pull within 33-32 late, but a two-point conversion after Stearns' TD failed and South Portland suffered the painful one-point defeat, as its season ended at 5-4.