The Winslow High School football team takes an old-school approach to offense these days, and it’s tough to stop.
A gritty Hermon squad tried its best at Hampden Academy on Saturday to counter the Black Raiders’ ground game with its passing attack, but Winslow finally outlasted the Hawks 38-30 to win the Class C North championship.
“It’s hard-nosed offense,” said Winslow senior fullback Evan Bourget of a double-wing formation that generated a robust 367 rushing yards and four of the team’s five touchdowns. “We come at you and we challenge you to stop us. That’s what we do. We outmuscle the other team, and we have a lot of heart.”
The muscle started up front, where linemen Will Harvey, Joseph Pfingst, Allan Rogers, Tim Lessa, Jaxen Wiegard and Owen Schuchardt pressed forward from the tightly bunched formation to lead the way for a quartet of ball carriers to average 5.5 yards on its 67 carries.
Sophomore halfback Nate Quirion led Winslow with 138 yards on 16 carries, while senior halfback Jack Dorval added 99 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts, senior fullback Evan Bourget added 68 yards and a touchdown on 13 tries and junior quarterback Jared Newgard contributed 62 yards and a touchdown on 18 rushes and also completed 4 of 6 passes for 58 yards and a score.
“They’re just so structured with it, so regimented with it and they’re senior-laden and that experience is hard to take away,” Hermon coach Kyle Gallant said. “They’re so tough, and that’s Winslow football. “When you run an offense like that and are so good at it, it’s hard to stop.”
Hermon rushed the ball just 10 times for 31 yards but had success landing aerial haymakers as junior quarterback Johnny Kokoska completed 12 of 19 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns while catching an option pass from classmate Gary Glidden for an additional 12 yards.
“Defensively I thought we played quite well, we just gave up some big plays … big play after big play,” said Wes Littlefield, who shares head coaching duties at Winslow with Pete Bolduc. “But coach [Gallant] over there does a nice job with his kids and that’s going to be a tough team for the next couple of years.”
Winslow (7-2) will play the winner of the Class C South final between No. 1 Leavitt of Turner Center and No. 2 Cape Elizabeth for the state title next Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
Hermon ends its season at 4-4.
Winslow never trailed in the regional final but was hard-pressed to put away a Hermon team that had its first three games of the season cancelled due to COVID-19 issues.
Bourget struck on Winslow’s initial possession with a 1-yard touchdown dive and two-point conversion run with 4:41 left in the first quarter.
It took Hermon just three plays to answer as Kokoska hit Clark Pelletier with a 57-yard touchdown strike down the right sideline and then a two-point pass to freshman Bud Coulter to make it 8-8.
The teams also swapped touchdowns in the second quarter, with Winslow taking a 16-8 lead on an 8-yard run by Dorval and a Quirion two-point rush and Hermon closing within 16-14 on Kokoska’s 8-yard pass to Dougie Holland with 43.4 seconds left before intermission.
Winslow drove 56 yards after receiving the second-half kickoff to extend its lead to 22-14 when Newgard rolled right and passed to tight end Tyler Brockway for the touchdown from 7 yards out with 8:08 left in the third quarter.
Winslow finally extended its lead beyond one possession after the game’s lone turnover, a pass interception by Dorval near midfield that he returned 17 yards to the Hermon 31.
That led to Dorval’s second TD run, this time from 4 yards out with 1:45 left in the period, and when he added the two-point conversion run Winslow’s lead grew to 30-14.
The breathing room was short-lived.
Two plays after the kickoff, Kokoska found Chasen Flanders with a 55-yard touchdown pass and then a two-point conversion pass to rally Hermon within 30-22 with 1:26 left in the third.
The Hawks just couldn’t stop Winslow’s offense.
The Black Raiders chewed up more than seven minutes with their next possession, a 60-yard march that included a successful 14-yard fourth-down conversion when Newgard was hit as he threw the ball but it still found its way to Brockway across the middle for a 25-yard gain to the Hermon 1.
Winslow was whistled for a facemask penalty at the end of the play, but after the penalty was assessed the Black Raiders still had first-down yardage to the 12.
Two plays later Newgard scored on an 8-yard run, with Dorval’s two-point rush extending the lead to 38-22 with 7:07 left.
Kokoska hit Coulter with a 12-yard touchdown pass and the two-point conversion pass with 3:36 remaining, but the Hawks’ offense never touched the ball again.