PORTLAND — Nine years of watching the same movies, sharing the same colds, enduring the same endless bus trips and finishing each other’s sentences paid off Saturday afternoon for Dirigo High School’s Nic Crutchfield and Alex Miele.

“We were coming out of the huddle, and Nic just looked at me and pointed me in the right direction,” Miele said.

That play, Dirigo’s second one from scrimmage, traveled 72 yards. Another went for 74 and a touchdown. In all, Class C’s premier quarterback and his favorite receiver hooked up nine times for 209 yards and two scores, powering Dirigo to a 37-20 state championship victory over Foxcroft Academy at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Dirigo (12-0) scored the final 23 points and shut out previously undefeated Foxcroft (11-1) in the second half to secure the school’s fifth state championship and first since 1975.

When Crutchfield and Miele began their gridiron career together in second grade, Dirigo’s varsity program was dormant.

“Those plays have pretty much been around since (Area Youth Football),” Crutchfield said. “Alex and I have known each other so long that he’ll change his route and I’ll know exactly what he’s doing.”

Crutchfield was 12-for-23 through the air for 256 of Dirigo’s 402 total yards and three TDs. Spencer Ross caught the third scoring toss.

Tyler Chiasson and Bryan Blackman each rushed for a score.

“It was a really emotional game,” said Chiasson, who also notched a quarterback sack to signal Dirigo’s defensive resurgence late in the first half. “It was a lot like the Livermore Falls game, where it was close for a half and both teams made a lot of big plays.”

Foxcroft and Dirigo combined for five touchdowns on their first five series, briefly putting the Ponies in command 20-14 early in the second quarter.

Miele’s first long grab set up his own 9-yard TD catch. On Dirigo’s next sojourn, he made a 74-yard explosion to the end zone on third-and-14, riddling a Foxcroft defense that allowed fewer than 300 total passing yards the entire season.

“We knew they hadn’t seen anything like Nic Crutchfield up north,” said Dirigo coach Doug Gilbert. “We unleashed him a few times.”

Three 1-yard TD runs — two by Ian Champeon and one by quarterback Ryan Stroud — represented Foxcroft’s points. But it was Stroud’s arm that put the Cougars’ secondary on its heels.

He completed passes to five different receivers and was 9-for-13 for 123 yards in the half.

“We had to switch some things around to get our speed against their speed,” Crutchfield said. “He’s a hell of a quarterback.”

Crutchfield fit that description, too, on the ultimate stage. Even his lone mistake of the day played into Dirigo’s hands.

His bomb to Miele down the left sideline fell short and into the hands of Foxcroft’s Josiah Richard on third-and-14. It worked out better than a punt when Miele dragged down Richard at the 4.

Jake Dowland and Mason Cote stopped Champeon (14 carries, 81 yards) for minimal gains on the Ponies’ next two carries. Chiasson raced in from right end to deflect Stroud’s pass and force three-and-out.

Ross’ 13-yard punt return gave Dirigo prime field position for the go-ahead score. Miele made catches of 14, 3 and 13 yards in a four-play sequence, setting up Chiasson’s 2-yard plunge. Eric Bolduc booted the extra point for a 21-20 lead with 2:41 remaining in the half.

More blindside pressure from Chiasson forced two Stroud incompletions and another quick Foxcroft punt. This time, Ross’ runback covered 27 yards. Dirigo drove to the 9 and narrowly missed three shots through the air before settling for a 26-yard Bolduc field goal.

“Just like last week (in the regional final against Yarmouth), the field goal at the end of the half gave us a lot of momentum,” said Gilbert. “We knew if we could get another one coming out of the half, they would need two scores.”

Foxcroft failed to sniff even one. The Ponies didn’t push past the Dirigo 39 after intermission.

Crutchfield threaded the needle through two Foxcroft defenders and hit Ross at the end of a post pattern for 19 yards and a 30-20 lead with 45 seconds remaining in the third.

“They were better than any team we’ve seen. Crutchfield is an excellent quarterback. We hadn’t seen anything like it,” said Foxcroft coach Danny White, who guided the Ponies to their sixth state final in eight years in his first season. “We felt if we didn’t turn the ball over that we would have a decent shot to be in the game or win the game. And we didn’t turn the ball over, but Dirigo just had too many players. They were the better team and that’s really how it should be to win a state championship.”

Dirigo demonstrated that it could nurse the clock, too, veering away from its quick-strike principles to cover 80 yards and occupy nearly six minutes of the fourth quarter.

Chiasson chewed up 37 yards on that series, setting up Blackman’s 19-yard scoot for a score with 4:22 left.

Chad Oakes intercepted Stroud to stop Foxcroft’s final possession, capping the Ponies at 75 net yards in their silent second half.

“It wasn’t like every other game this year where they might have scored first but we controlled the rest of the game. It was back-and-forth for a long time. It was hard,” Crutchfield said.

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Tyler Chaisson, left, and Alex Miele, right, show of the gold ball to Dirigo fans after their 37-20 win over Foxcroft Academy in the Class C state football championship on Saturday in Portland.

Dirigo fans, from left to right, Cody St. Germain, Josh Turbide, and Travis Frost, all from Dixfield, celebrate a good play in the first half of the Class C championship game Saturday.

Foxcroft Academy’s Hunter Desimone is surrounded by Dirigo’s defense during their Class C championship Saturday.

Foxcroft Academy’s Josiah Richard is taken down by Dirigo’s Alex Miele in the first half of their Class C championship game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium. The Cougars took down the Ponies, 37-20.

Dirigo’s Mitch Lemay pulls away from Foxcroft’s Robert Harmon during the Class C championship football game Saturday.

Dirigo’s Bryan Blackman is hoisted up by Kyle Hutchinson as they celebrate their win over Foxcroft Academy.

Foxcroft Academy’s Ryan Stroud is taken down by Kyle Hutchinson in the first half of the Class C championship game Saturday in Portland. The Cougars won, 37-20.

Alex Miele celebrates after Dirigo’s 37-20 win over Foxcroft Academy in the Class C state championship football game Saturday in Portland.

Dirigo’s Nic Crutchfield was able to slip out of the grasp of Foxcroft’s Dylan Andrews in the second half of their Class C championship game Saturday in Portland. The Cougars won, 37-20.


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