Dover-Foxcroft’s Gideon Topolski (left) and Hunter McSorley bring down John Bapst running back Corey Butler in first half action of the Class D football quarterfinal game at Oakes Field in Dover-Foxcroft on Nov. 5, 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

When Foxcroft Academy and Winthrop-Monmouth Academy-Hall-Dale play for the Class D football state championship Friday night, they won’t have a ton of mutual history to draw upon.

They met three weeks ago with top-ranked Foxcroft holding off No. 2 Winthrop 24-14 at Maxwell Field in Winthrop, and those memories will serve an important role in setting the stage for the rematch.

But the two proud small-school programs met just twice before that, with Winthrop scoring a 13-7 victory in Dover-Foxcroft on Sept. 27, 1930, and Foxcroft extracting some revenge with a 14-7 win at Winthrop on Sept. 26, 1931.

“Last winter after COVID hit and we didn’t have a lot of game film to watch, I researched the history of Winthrop’s football program and found the result of every game since 1924,” said Dave St. Hilaire, who has served as the Ramblers’ head coach since 2014.

There’s a good chance at least one thing hasn’t changed much during the ensuing 90 years, as another close game is anticipated when 10-0 Foxcroft and 7-1 Winthrop-Monmouth-Hall-Dale meet again in a 6 p.m. opening kickoff at Cameron Stadium in Bangor.

“On paper it’s a good matchup,” said 13th-year Foxcroft head coach Danny White. “It’s a matchup that we feel confident with and we should feel confident, but we have great respect for the opponent.”

Foxcroft is seeking its first state title since 2012 while Winthrop last won it all in 2000, and both feature an abundance of skill-position playmakers in their efforts to return to the top.

Foxcroft has averaged 39.9 points per game with an offense directed by one of the state’s most accurate passers in senior quarterback Austin Seavey, who has completed 104 of 165 passes — a 63 percent completion rate — for 1,529 yards with 22 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Seavey has completed passes to eight different receivers, with six catching at least one touchdown strike. That grouping is led by junior slotback Caden Crocker (43 receptions, 520 yards, 11 TDs), senior slotback Gideon Topolski (23-298-4) and sophomores Jackson Smith (11-235-2) and Jadon Richard (11-177).

That complements a ground game led by senior Jesse Drury (87 carries, 978 yards and 14 TDs), sophomore Gage Beaudry (68-376-5) and Seavey (65-341-4), three of six Foxcroft rushers to score at least one touchdown.

Winthrop’s offense, which averaged 38.1 points per game, features the rushing duo of senior halfback Logan Baird (108 carries for 817 yards and 11 touchdowns) and junior fullback Dominic Trott (88-780-14).

They work behind senior quarterback Andrew Foster, who has completed 49 of 78 passes for 987 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, three coming during the earlier loss to Foxcroft when the Ramblers fell behind 17-0 at halftime.

Both teams have been successful at winning the turnover battle, though in different ways. Foxcroft’s defense has 30 takeaways with 19 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries while Winthrop has recovered 17 fumbles and intercepted three passes.

White and St. Hilaire agree that one of the keys to their respective team’s success has been their development along the line of scrimmage.

Each team has a definitive leader up front, Winthrop in 5-foot-11, 340-pound senior tackle Jacob Umberhind and Foxcroft with 6-1, 255-pound senior tackle Anthony Smith.

But the development beyond those two has provided each team with pass protection and run blocking on offense and run stoppage on defense, in Foxcroft’s case through the contributions of junior tackle D.J. Scheel and three sophomores, center Jack Caruso and guards Logan Walton and Hunter McSorley.

“We felt all summer that we were going to have the athletes and the skill to do some pretty special things, which we’ve been able to do,” White said, “but that was all contingent on being able to protect and give Austin some time, and also being able to run the ball effectively when we had to and we’ve done both probably better than we anticipated early this summer.”

Smith has led a Foxcroft defense that has shut out its first two playoff foes with 49 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks, while Trott anchors Winthrop’s defense from his linebacker slot with 68 tackles, two sacks, 21 tackles for loss, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Both coaches agree line play was pivotal in their earlier meeting this season and figures to be a determining factor when they meet again with a state championship at stake.

“When we played before  they had the better of us that night up front, and I thought that was the biggest difference in the game,” said St. Hilaire, whose team managed just 74 rushing yards on 21 rushing attempts during the Week 8 loss.

“We’ve got to do better up front. We want to be the pace setter, the frontrunner, that’s the makeup of our team. If we can’t establish ourselves up front on both sides of the ball, it’s going to be another long night.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...