We have finally reached the week in which all classes have entered the playoffs. Class A and Class D don’t have divisions, with all Class D teams making the postseason and all but two teams in Class A playing in the tournament.
Take a look at who to watch, favorites, some darkhorse playoff candidates and who Adam Robinson thinks will win the state titles in Class A and D, along with his previous predictions for who will walk away the North champion in Classes B and C and eight-player football.
Players to watch: Eli Soehren, senior quarterback, Oxford Hills; Teigan Pelletier, senior wide receiver, Oxford Hills; Ryan O’Keefe, senior quarterback, Thornton Academy; Hayden Whitney, senior running back, Thornton Academy; D’Angelo Alston, quarterback, Scarborough; Cam Marcello, senior quarterback, Bonny Eagle; CJ Cooper, sophomore wide receiver, Bonny Eagle; Eli Bigelow, senior wide receiver, Lewiston.
Favorite: Oxford Hills is the clear favorite in Class A. After playing Thornton Academy in the Class A state championship game a year ago, the Vikings slayed the dragon in Week 2 while having to bring in backup quarterback Brady Truman after an injury to Eli Soehren. Soehren is back and the Vikings have been on a roll heading into the postseason. It’s Oxford Hills’ title to lose.
Darkhorse: The Lewiston Blue Devils are a team schools have to watch out for. The Blue Devils have a new head coach in Jason Versey and, at 5-3, are hosting a playoff game. The Blue Devils have a win over Scarborough and play teams tough. They might be a year or two ahead of schedule, but this has been a huge year for the Lewiston football program.
State championship prediction: Oxford Hills and Thornton Academy will meet again in Portland for the Class A title game, and I think the Vikings will finally get their title. Soehren, Pelletier, Lincoln Merrill and the Vikings have all the makings of a title winner.
Players to watch: Caden Crocker, senior wide receiver, Foxcroft Academy; Jason Richard, wide receiver/defensive back, Foxcroft Academy; Dom Trott, running back, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale; Owen Harding, quarterback, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale; Colby Levasseur, running back, Lisbon; Jimmy Fitzsimmons, quarterback, Lisbon; Dylan Cook, quarterback, Poland.
Favorite: Foxcroft Academy will look to defend its 2021 Class D title this November. Crocker is a star on both sides of the ball and the Ponies have rallied since its early-season loss to Lisbon and look like the team to beat, allowing just 29 points in their last five wins.
Darkhorse: Lisbon lost two games at the beginning of the year and then turned it around quickly, beating Foxcroft in Week 4 and then finished the season with wins over Poland and Winthrop. Fitzsimmons can throw and run the ball and the Greyhounds have a few running backs that can help bleed the clock and move the ball down the field. Lisbon could surprise some people this postseason.
State championship prediction: Foxcroft is still the team to beat, but I wouldn’t rule out Lisbon or Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale. I think it’s a three-team race, but the Ponies are the favorites and will win the Class D championship. Crocker got hurt during the Lisbon loss and Lisbon was able to keep possession for a vast majority of the game. I don’t think Foxcroft will let that happen again and will win its second title in a row this November.
Class B North
Players to watch: Cameron Hughes, running back, Brewer; Brenden Dunlap, junior quarterback, Skowhegan; Cowen Young, running back, Mt. Blue; Dom Napolitano, running back, Cony; Haddon Boyle, running back, Windham; Finn Caxton-Smith, running back, Falmouth; Parker Higgins, running back, Lawrence.
Favorite: Skowhegan has to be the favorite heading into the playoffs. The team has a high-powered offense and also beat Cony 28-0 early in the season. Still, top-seeded Cony can’t be taken for granted as the Rams have won five games in a row and are on fire as the Class B North playoffs begin. You want to be playing your best football when the playoffs start and it certainly seems like the Rams are. Skowhegan is coming off two tough losses to Thornton Academy and Windham, but I still believe they have what it takes to reach the Class B final.
Darkhorse: When Falmouth is healthy, the Navigators are dangerous. They beat Brewer in the middle of the season with Finn Caxton-Smith stepping in and playing quarterback and seemingly didn’t miss a step. Falmouth had a blowout win against Brunswick two weeks ago before narrowly losing to Cony 35-28. The Navigators can play with anyone and will prove it in these playoffs.
North final prediction: Skowhegan 35, Falmouth 24. Falmouth will exact revenge on Cony in the Class B North semifinals and pull off the upset victory to meet up with Skowhegan in the final. In the final I see Skowhegan using its offensive firepower to take out the Navigators and secure its spot in the Class B state final.
Class C North
Players to watch: Gary Glidden, senior running back, Hermon; Jaykob Dow, senior lineman, Hermon; Hayden Staples, running back, Medomak Valley; Liam Wilson, quarterback, Medomak Valley; Jared Newgard, quarterback, Winslow; Kyle Hall, quarterback, MCI; Aiden Sergent, running back, Oceanside; Cohen Galley, quarterback, Oceanside; Kadin Bonin, secondary, Belfast; Madden White, senior receiver, Nokomis; Grady Hartsgrove, quarterback, Nokomis.
Favorites: There are two favorites this season, and then everyone else.
Top-seeded Medomak Valley and No. 2 Hermon are the two teams to beat, and they proved that last week in the final game of the regular season.
Both teams entered the game with a 5-2 record and Medomak Valley was able to edge out a 14-12 win. The runs both teams have been on heading into the playoffs prove they are the best.
Darkhorse: I’d watch out for Nokomis. The No. 4 seed has won four of its last five games heading into its opening round matchup with No. 5 Winslow, with quarterback Grady Hartsgrove and receiver Madden White helping the Warriors find their offensive stride.
North final prediction: Hermon 26, Medomak Valley 20. Nokomis will put up a strong fight in the playoffs, as will Oceanside, but I still believe that Hermon and Medomak Valley will find each other in the Class C North regional final. Both teams are evenly matched and can score in bunches. Hermon will win the rematch between the two teams behind the Hawks’ offensive and defensive lines. It’s hard to beat a good team twice, and I think Hermon will prove that and beat Medomak to reach the Class C state final.
8-player large school North
Players to watch: Dawson Harrison, running back, Waterville; Calin Gould, quarterback, Morse; Alex Gray, senior linebacker, MDI; Aiden Grant, senior running back, MDI; Owen Reynolds, running back, Camden Hills.
Favorite: Mount Desert Island is the favorite in the eight-player large school division because of its offensive firepower. No. 1 MDI has averaged 47.75 points per game over its current four-game win streak heading into a playoff game against No. 4 Camden Hills.
Darkhorse: Morse is the darkhorse in the large school North division. The Shipbuilders have won their last two, including a win over Camden Hills. Morse also beat Mt. Ararat, who is the top seed in large school South.
North final prediction: MDI 38, Morse 20. I think that MDI’s offense is too strong for the rest of the large school north playoff contenders. Spencer Laurendeau at quarterback and Aiden Grant at running back will lead the Trojans to the eight-player large school state final.
8-player small school North
Players to watch: Bryce Connor, senior quarterback, Dexter; Aidan Sanders, senior wide receiver, Stearns; Isaac Hainer, quarterback, Mattanawcook; Ayden Maguire, senior quarterback, Bucksport; Kamryn Webber, running back, Bucksport; Kase Walston, running back, Orono.
Favorites: The Dexter Tigers are the defending eight-player small school state champions and have followed the title up with a 7-0 regular season campaign. The Tigers have run over any team in their way, beating opponents by an average of 25 points. Connor has been the division’s best quarterback and has led Dexter to the top spot.
Darkhorse: Orono gave Dexter its tightest contest of the season, losing 38-30. The Riots also beat Mattanawcook to finish the regular season and are playing good football heading into the playoffs.
North final prediction: Dexter 36, Stearns 28. Connor has been too much for every defense he’s faced this season. He can run, throw and has led the Tigers to a perfect record while averaging 52 points per game. While Dexter handled Stearns pretty easily in their matchup two weeks ago, I think Isaac Hainer, another dual threat quarterback, and Stearns will battle back to make this close. Still, Dexter is the better team and will show it as it heads to the small-school state final.