WINSLOW — Longer and stronger legs propelled Winslow to its first Campbell Conference Class C title at Poulin Field Saturday.
Dirigo's penchant for shooting itself in the foot helped, too.
Dylan Hapworth booted a 26-yard field goal and two Justin Martin interceptions led to fourth-quarter touchdowns that sent top-seeded Winslow to its first state championship game in six years with a 17-6 victory over No. 3 Dirigo. The Black Raiders, who last appeared in the title game as a Class B school, will face Little Ten Conference champion Foxcroft Academy at Fitzpatrick Stadium next Saturday.
"We reached our goal that we've had all the way from double sessions," Hapworth said. "It's just hard to believe. I'm still shocked that we won."
Three interceptions and a fumble kept the Cougars off the scoreboard until midway through the fourth quarter and set up all three Winslow scores.
"We had to take some chances," Dirigo coach Dave Crutchfield said. "We had to get out of some long-yardage situations so we had to throw the ball. We just couldn't seem to find it."
Dirigo hemmed in Winslow's three-pronged running attack of Zach Guptill, Hapworth and Joe Hopkins for most of the game, outgaining the Black Raiders, 281-188, and limiting them to eight first downs.
But Martin, a 6-foot-5 sophomore cornerback covering 5-foot-10 Dirigo receiver Nick Young, picked off two Brett Whittemore passes in a little over a minute to help Winslow pull away. He returned the first 23 yards to the Dirigo 6. Guptill (17 carries, 81 yards) pounded it in from there to make it 10-0 with 9:46 left.
Dirigo tested Martin again on its next series. On 3rd and 17 at their own 47, Whittemore threw deep to Young down the left sideline. Martin intercepted it, broke a couple of tackles in front of the Dirigo bench and galloped the rest of the way for a 73-yard touchdown and a 17-0 lead with 8:45 remaining.
"Since I'm really tall, I can jump up for the ball and hopefully just catch it and run it back," Martin said. "We had great blocking when I was running. They just got them out of my way."
"Those two interceptions really were the ball game," Winslow coach Mike Siviski said. "We had a hard time running on them. Our running game has been very, very good all year, and they contained us pretty well."
After Martin's second pick, Dirigo went 59 yards on five plays and got on the board on Whittemore's one-yard pass to Thomas Barnett with 6:55 to go. Winslow recovered the onside kick and, after being forced to punt, stopped the Cougars on downs at its own 30 to clinch it with two minutes left.
Neither team was able to sustain anything offensively through the first quarter. Ricky Clayton recovered a fumble by Trenoweth (15 carries, 128 yards) at his own 46 to snuff Dirigo's most promising drive of the first half.
"It was another strong defensive effort," said Siviski, whose team shut out Traip, 7-0, in the semifinals. "Trenoweth is so dangerous every time he touches the ball. I don't think anybody's really stopped him this year. We slowed him down."
After the turnover, Winslow (10-1) drove to the Dirigo 23 and had Hapworth try a 40-yard field goal, but the sophomore's kick was short and well right.
Adam Pelletier gathered in a pass off a Dirigo receiver's hands near midfield to give Hapworth another chance, and he gave the Raiders a 3-0 lead with 2:30 left in the half.
"We came out here in pregame and I was kicking them pretty good today. I knew I could make it. I just had to relax," Hapworth said. "(The first one) I just missed it. Took the head off of it."
Hapworth also averaged a solid 37 yards on his six punts, giving Winslow the field position advantage at key points in the game.
"Hapworth punted very, very well for us and we gave them a long field a lot," Siviski said.
Dirigo beat Winslow, 32-21, at Poulin Field in Week 2. The following week, Winslow returned 16 players suspended for academic ineligibility, most of them reserves, and hasn't lost since.
Dirigo graduates a dozen seniors from an 8-3 season.
"Nobody expected anything out of us," Crutchfield said. "They picked us to No. 8, which is preseason stuff. I knew that this team as long as they brought it together as a family, they were going to be all set. I've got a great bunch of kids."