Cape Elizabeth senior quarterback Jeb Boeschenstein looks to pass while being pressured by Wells junior Chad Fitzpatrick (27) and senior Jordan Cluff during the teams’ Class C South Final showdown Saturday afternoon. The Capers’ suffered their first loss of the season, 27-14.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.
W- 7 0 7 13- 27
CE- 0 7 0 7- 14
W- Whitten 8 run (Reidy kick)
CE- Ekedahl 25 pass from Boeschenstein (Peterson kick)
W- R. Dempsey 23 pass from Berry (Reidy kick)
W- Berry 6 run (Reidy kick)
W- R. Dempsey 3 run (kick failed)
CE- Boeschenstein 60 pass from Ekedahl (Peterson kick)
CAPE ELIZABETH—For 10 weeks, Cape Elizabeth’s football team was unstoppable.
But Saturday afternoon at Hannaford Field, the Capers finally met their match.
In the form of a team determined to make it to the big stage after some recent disappointments.
Cape Elizabeth, the top seed in Class C South, hosted No. 2 Wells in a highly anticipated regional final and it was quickly evident that the Warriors had come to play.
Wells, which let a 14-point lead slip away in an agonizing regional final loss at Yarmouth last year, managed to avenge its lone setback this fall thanks to a solid 48-minute effort on both sides of the ball.
The Warriors scored first, as senior 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, senior quarterback Jeb Boeschenstein hit classmate 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 senior quarterback Owen Berry hit classmate 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 at a time to be announced.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Wells coach Tim Roche. “We worked hard and the kids can see the accomplishment. We made a few adjustments here and there, but nothing major. We believed in ourselves. The guys didn’t want to lose again.”
“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.”
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 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.
Saturday, on an all-things-considered comfortable afternoon (46 degrees with a 10 mile per hour wind at kickoff), the region’s two best teams battled hard for 48 minutes, but it was the visitors who came away with the trophy.
Wells won the opening coin toss, but deferred possession to the second half.
The Capers started at their 11 and after junior Ryan Weare ran for a yard, Boeschenstein threw incomplete, but a pass interference penalty gave Cape Elizabeth a first down at its 27. Boeschenstein hit Ekedahl for four yards and senior Brett McAlister gained five yards, setting up third-and-1, but McAlister’s next carry resulted in a four-yard loss, forcing a punt.
On the punt, the Capers were flagged for roughing the return man and as a result, the Warriors took over at the Cape Elizabeth 48 with 9:31 to play in the first quarter.
It took the visitors six plays and 2 minutes, 26 seconds to traverse the distance to the goal line to break the ice.
After the Capers jumped offsides and Wells returned the favor with a false start, Berry found senior Jordan Cluff with a 24-yard pass to the 24. Whitten gained two yards and Dempsey picked up four, setting up third-and-4, where Berry connected with Whitten for six yards and a first down at the 12. After senior Jake Spofford bulled forward for four yards, Whitten got the ball and ran up the gut into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown. Senior Keegan Reidy added the extra point to make it 7-0 Warriors with 7:05 to play in the opening stanza.
Wells’ defense protected that advantage nearly the remainder of the half.
On Cape Elizabeth’s next possession, which started at its 32, the hosts went three-and-out, as senior Peyton Weatherbie ran for four yards, Boeschenstein was sacked for a one yard loss by Spofford and Weatherbie was held to no gain, forcing a punt.
The Warriors got the ball for the second time at their 24, but after Whitten moved the chains with an 11-yard carry, Whitten ran for one yard, junior Nolan Potter gained four and Berry was held to no gain on a scramble, forcing a punt.
After just a 19-yard boot, the Capers started their next drive at their 41 and began to move as the first period gave way to the second.
After Ekedahl was strung out on a sweep right and lost six yards, Boeschenstein threw incomplete. On third-and-16, Boeschenstein again threw incomplete, but a pass interference penalty was called, setting up third-and-1 from midfield where Boeschenstein threw a short four yard pass to senior Marshall Peterson to move the chains. After Boeschenstein hit Ekedahl for three yards, Ekedahl ran for four yards and a facemask penalty set up first down at the Wells 34. Ekedahl ran for two more yards on the final play of the quarter.
The second period started with a two yard run by Ekedahl and was followed by an incomplete pass, setting up fourth-and-6 from the 30. After the quarterback bought some time, Boeschenstein and Ekedahl then connected for 13 yards and a first down at the 17, but Cape Elizabeth couldn’t finish the drive, as after Weatherbie ran for six yards and Weare gained two, Weatherbie was stuffed for no gain by Warriors seniors Deandre Woods and Cody Brassard. On a fourth down keeper, Boeschenstein kept the ball and stretched for the first down, but was marked down just short at the 8 and Wells took over on downs.
The Warriors chewed nearly six minutes off the clock and drove into Capers’ territory, but couldn’t add to their lead.
Runs of four yards by Whitten, three by Dempsey and five by Whitten moved the chains. After McAlister dropped Dempsey for a two-yard loss, Whitten broke free for 20 yards to the 38. Whitten was held to one yard, but on the next snap, Potter ran for nine yards and a facemask penalty set up first down at the Cape Elizabeth 37. Potter ran for 13 more, but after Potter was held to no gain by Capers’ senior Gustav Sonesson, a holding penalty moved Wells back. After Berry threw incomplete, Berry was sacked by junior Jack Glanville and sophomore Bear Huffard, finally ending the threat.
After a punt, Cape Elizabeth started again from its 23 with 3:22 remaining in the half. The Capers would need just 2:31 to march 77 yards for the tying score.
Weare got things started with a 14-yard burst. Another pass interference penalty then gave Cape Elizabeth a first down at the Warriors’ 48. After Weare ran for two yards, Ekedahl caught a pass for 10 yards and a first down at the 36. Weare ran for three yards and Glanville gained four, but Boeschenstein threw incomplete, setting up fourth down. The Capers managed to convert, as Boeschenstein’s short pass to Peterson gained four yards and a first down at the 25. On the next snap, Boeschenstein dropped back to pass again and lofted a throw down the middle to Ekedahl in the back of the end zone. Ekedahl likely would have made the catch anyway, but a defender fell down and the end result was a 25 yard scoring pass with 51 seconds remaining before the half.
Peterson’s PAT tied the score, 7-7.
Wells had one final chance in the half, but after Potter ran for three yards, Whitten’s 10 yard burst ran out the clock and the teams went to the break deadlocked.
In the first 24 minutes, the Capers managed 152 yards of offense to 124 for the Warriors.
It was anyone’s contest as the second half began, but Wells began to take control on both sides of the ball and eventually went ahead for good.
The Warriors received the second half kickoff and starting at their 36, chewed up nearly six minutes on a long drive that didn’t produce any points. After Berry kept the ball for eight yards to start and after Whitten picked up a yard, Potter moved the chains with a two yard pickup. Dempsey ran for seven yards and Whitten gained three more for a first down at the Cape Elizabeth 43. The Capers appeared primed to make a stop when Dempsey gained four yards, Berry picked up two, then scrambled for one more, setting up fourth-and-3, but Berry hit Cluff for nine yards and a first down at the 27.
Cape Elizabeth then got the defensive play it needed, as senior Nat Jordan sacked Berry for a six-yard loss and on the following snap, sophomore Tyler Bridge was thrown for a three-yard loss by Ekedahl and senior Max Woods. Bridge got 18 yards on third-and-19, but on fourth down, Potter was stuffed and the Capers took over on downs at their 18.
They quickly gave the ball right back, as Glanville was held to no gain, a pass to Ekedahl only resulted in four yards and on third down, Boeschenstein threw incomplete.
With 4:44 left in the third, after a punt, Wells got the ball back at its 46 and in six plays and 2:48, drove 54 yards to go on top to stay.
The drive began inauspiciously, as Whitten ran for two yards and Dempsey gained just one, but on third down, Berry hit Cluff for 17 yards and a facemask penalty was tacked on, moving the ball to the Capers’ 24. Whitten ran for a yard and Berry threw incomplete, but on third-and-9, Berry dropped back to pass, rolled left to elude the rush of Jordan, then threw the ball to Dempsey just in front of the goal line and Dempsey broke the plane for the touchdown.
“Owen was a game time decision,” Roche said. “I decided to start him at the coin toss. He wanted to play and look at how he threw the ball today. We’re not a passing team, but we were today when we had to be.”
“They’re not known for passing, but they’re pretty effective when they do,” Filieo said. “I thought we had guys in position, but they made the plays.”
Reidy’s extra point put the Warriors ahead, 14-7, with 1:56 left in the frame.
Cape Elizabeth started its next drive at its 20 and hoped to answer, but after Ekedahl ran for two yards, a fumbled snap led to a six yard loss and a false start penalty backed the Capers up further. On third-and-19, Ekedahl was caught behind the line of scrimmage and dropped for a six yard loss by Cluff as the third period ended.
In that quarter, Wells had 100 yards of offense, while the Capers had negative-11.
On the first play of the final stanza, Peterson punted and Bridge couldn’t handle the ball, but he fell on it at the Cape Elizabeth 49 to avoid disaster.
“I don’t think we caught any breaks,” Filieo said. “I thought something good was coming, but we never got it.”
The Warriors would march 49 yards in six plays and 2:52 to gain some breathing room.
After Whitten ran for seven yards, he was thrown for a one yard loss by junior Luc Houle. On third-and-4, Berry passed to Woods, who dragged two defenders 10 yards after the catch, moving the ball all the way to the 15. After a three yard run by Potter, Dempsey lost a yard, but on the play, a facemask penalty was called, setting up second down from the 6. From there, Berry did the rest, faking a handoff, keeping the ball on a naked bootleg to the left and he outran the pursuit to the pylon for the touchdown.
“That play, Owen made that call, not me,” Roche said. “He came through big-time. He’s got a muscle injury and it hurts, but he wanted it so badly. I’m so proud of him.”
With exactly 9 minutes to play, Reidy booted the PAT, making it 21-7 Wells.
The Capers desperately needed to answer, but couldn’t do so, as Boeschenstein threw incomplete on three straight downs. Ekedahl dropped back to punt and took off to his right, but as the Warriors, who weren’t fooled, closed in, Ekedahl kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Wells great field position again, at the Cape Elizabeth 37 with 8:27 remaining.
The Warriors weren’t able to turn that break into points, but they did take more than two minutes off the clock.
Whitten ran for a yard and Dempsey carried twice for a total of two yards. After a delay of game penalty, a punt went into the end zone for a touchback, giving the Capers the ball at their 20 with 5:52 to play.
After hitting Weatherbie for four yards, Boeschenstein threw three straight incompletions and with 4:56 to go, Wells earned great field position again, at the Cape Elizabeth 24.
Again, the Capers’ defense kept hope alive, but coming up with a big stop.
After Whitten was held to no gain, then gained three yards, Berry kept the ball for five, but a bad snap on fourth down gave Cape Elizabeth the ball back at its 16.
Boeschenstein hit senior Camden Turner for 12 yards on first down, but on the next play, he was intercepted by junior Michael Wrigley, who fielded a low throw just off the turf to set the stage for the coup de grace.
With 3:28 to go, the Warriors started at the Capers’ 42 and in six plays and 2:38, marched for one final touchdown.
After Whitten gained three yards, Whitten broke free for 33, breaking multiple tackles before being corralled at the 6. Whitten ran for a yard, then was dropped for a one yard loss by Ekedahl. Dempsey ran for three yards, setting up fourth down, where Dempsey got the call again and found his way into the end zone for the clinching score.
The extra point failed, but with just 50.7 seconds left, Wells was in command, up, 27-7.
Cape Elizabeth refused to go quietly and did manage one final touchdown, as Ekedahl, under pressure, threw the ball deep to Boeschenstein. Boeschenstein had to come back for the ball, caught it, eluded a defender, then ran the rest of the way to complete a 60 yard score with 28.9 seconds left. Peterson added the PAT to make it 27-14.
Peterson’s ensuing onsides kick went out of bounds and the Warriors took over the Capers’ 48, needing to only take a knee to run out the clock.
At 2:38 p.m., the victory was official and Wells celebrated its 27-14 triumph with gusto.
“It was nice to not play from behind,” Roche said. “We played ahead and that made it fun. They’re such a good team and I was worried the whole time. We played tough. We played tough D. We made big plays down the stretch and made big hits.”
The Warriors finished with 320 yards of offense. They overcame eight penalties for 73 yards.
Whitten gained 117 yards and had a touchdown on 21 carries. Dempsey rushed for 32 yards and had a TD on 11 rushes. He also had the one touchdown reception for 23 yards. Berry finished 7 of 9 passing, good for 125 yards and one score. He also ran the ball six times for 22 yards and a TD. Potter had 34 yards on eight carries. Cluff caught three passes for 50 yards, Woods had one catch for 28, Bridge one for 18 and Whitten one for 6.
Saturday, Wells meets Mt. Desert Island (which ended Winslow’s repeat bid in its regional final Friday night) for the first time. The Warriors will appear in their sixth state final and will look to capture their third Gold Ball (1997 and 2011 were the others, in Class B).
“One more time we get to go through this and it’s exciting,” Roche said.
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. Weare had 22 yards on five carries. Weatherbie gained 10 yards on four rushes. Peterson had two receptions for 8 yards, Weatherbie caught one ball for 4 yards and Turner had a catch for 12 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 10-1 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.”
Cape Elizabeth junior Ryan Weare gets a block from senior Peyton Weatherbie.
Cape Elizabeth senior Marshall Peterson tries to make a catch in traffic as Wells seniors Riley Dempsey, left, and Nick Hansen defend.
Wells junior Nolan Potter tackles Cape Elizabeth senior Peyton Weatherbie.
Cape Elizabeth senior Ben Ekedahl catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Cape Elizabeth senior Nat Jordan celebrates after making a big play.
Cape Elizabeth senior captains Brett McAlister, left, Ben Ekedahl, Jacob Jordan and Nat Jordan receive the runner-up trophy.
2015 Class C South semifinals
Wells 20 Cape Elizabeth 14
2011 Western B semifinals
Wells 13 Cape Elizabeth 0
2010 Western B semifinals
Wells 47 Cape Elizabeth 7
2009 Western B semifinals
Cape Elizabeth 35 Wells 14