Foxcroft defenders bring down Wells full back Nolan Potter during the Class D football state championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium on Saturday. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)
PORTLAND — It took seven and a half minutes for the Wells football team to get a first down in Saturday’s Class D state championship against Foxcroft Academy.
But once Wells got going, it couldn’t be stopped on its way to a 48-0 victory for its second straight state title at Fitzpatrick Stadium.
“They stuffed us, they were tough,” Wells Coach Tim Roche said of Wells’ first couple offensive series. “We started to get – not nervous – but we started to question, do we need to make adjustments?”
But Wells (12-0) found its groove late in the first quarter and went on to total 415 yards while holding Foxcroft (8-3) to just 136. Wells quarterback Michael Wrigley scored four times, rushing for 68 yards and three touchdowns on five carries while going 4-for-6 for 53 yards and a touchdown. Wells running back Nolan Porter rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Foxcroft got off to a strong start when Hyatt Smith returned the opening kickoff 29 yards to the Ponies’ 46. They couldn’t capitalize on the good field position and punted it away, but Wells would also go three-and-out on its first two possessions.
“We came out with a game plan and, like always, you got to come out and adjust and see what they do,” Wrigley said. “We came out and adjusted and then, in the second quarter, we really had things clicking.”
Tyler Bridge grabbed momentum for Wells when he pulled down a deep Nick Clawson pass for an interception — Wells’ first of four. Three big plays later, Wells was on the board. Wrigley and Potter broke loose for runs of 27 and 24 yards before Potter scored from 30 yards out — driving through tackles and stumbling into the end zone — with 3:42 left in the first quarter.
“We have a great whole pass defense,” Bridge said. “The interceptions, the good defense and then, once we got going with Nolan, we just kept going.”
A minute later, Dylan Whitney blocked a Foxcroft punt to set Wells up on the Ponies’ 21-yard line. From there, Wrigley connected with Bridge for a 21-yard touchdown with 2:32 left to give Wells a 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
On the first play of the second period, Wrigley capped off a drive –— in which Potter rushed for 45 yards on two carries — with a five-yard touchdown run with 11:54 left in the half.
Down 21-0, Foxcroft finally got rolling on offense when Clawson connected with Jeremy Richard on passes of seven and eight yards for a Ponies first down – their first of the game. On third-and-10, Hyatt Smith turned a short pass into a 30-yard gain, dodging tackles before switching directions and finding room to run along the right sideline. Sean McCormack-Kuhman finally brought Smith down at the Wells’ 11 before a seven-yard run by Michaleb Niles set the Ponies up at the 4. It was the closest they would get to scoring.
After a penalty backed up Foxcroft to the 16, Christian Saulnier intercepted another Clawson pass. Wrigley kept Wells’ drive alive on third-and-14 with an 18-yard pass to Ethan Marsh. Wells then rushed for the remaining 70 yards on 10 carries, with Wrigley scoring on a 6-yard run with 3:23 left in the half.
“Some people think we are susceptible to the pass, and we don’t really want that reputation so we work on it extra in practice,” Wrigley said. “Limit their weapons – that’s what we like to do.”
Foxcroft went three-and-out again, giving the ball back to Wells with enough time to score. Following two big runs by Bridge for 32 and 18 yards, Wrigley scored his third rushing touchdown of the quarter with 1:19 left, giving Wells a 34-0 lead.
Wells opened the second half with a scoring drive on which Potter scored his second touchdown from 15 yards out with 8:44 left in third. On Foxcroft’s next possession, Potter notched Wells’ fourth interception, setting the team up at the Ponies’ 27. Chad Fitzpatrick rounded out the scoring with a 1-yard rushing touchdown with 4:24 left in the third.
Wells, which lost 19 seniors last year, won the Class C title last season by a similar margin, defeating Mount Desert Island 44-0.
“When you lose 19, you’re not really expecting this,” Roche said. “It comes down to what these kids want to do. They’re just a hard-working group, and they wanted to win.”
Wells quarterback Michael Wrigley leads his team in a cheer after deafeating Foxcroft for the Class D football state championship title at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland on Saturday. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)