TURNER — “Defending state champion” is a bit of a misnomer when applied to Leavitt football.

Oh, the Hornets certainly are all that, by definition. Ten consecutive wins have put Leavitt in position to keep the Class C gold Friday night against Winslow at the University of Maine.

Let’s take inventory, though, of what some major components of the Leavitt offensive machine were doing one year ago this week.

Levi Craig was emergency scout team quarterback after having never played the position until midseason. Gabe Seeley sorted out transportation to the title game, wishing he had gone out for the team at all. Max Green watched his brother, Sam, and knew that he would only see significant playing time in a rout. Mitchel Davis played, but achieved most of his notoriety as a blocker and on the rare occasions Leavitt needed a punter.

Not exactly the building blocks of a historically prolific offense, right?

Wrong.

“We had to get better every day,” said Davis, a senior tight end. “We started off slow and had to work our way up. We have a great coaching staff that helped us out.”

The numbers are staggering.

Craig has 42 total touchdowns (34 passing and a team-high eight on the ground) and needs only 67 yards in the final to hit 3,000. Green cleared the 1,000-yard barrier with a leaping, fingertip grab for a 46-yard touchdown this past Saturday against Wells, his 12th score of the season. He leads the team with 52 catches.

Mix in deep threat and vicious downfield blocker Seeley (37 receptions, 709 yards, 12 TDs) and Davis (34-541-8), and few opposing defenses have the ability to match up. Green, Seeley and Davis all check in at 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-6 in cleats.

And we haven’t even mentioned slot receivers Billy Bedard (37-536-2) and Isaiah Calder. To the 2013 Hornets, “spread offense” meant doling out the carries to a half-dozen backs who could hit the hole and win foot races at the second level. In the title defense, Leavitt has stretched the field like Silly Putty.

“I would think it’s hard to game plan for the receivers we have,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “They all have some size. Mitch is obviously more over the middle. We probably find him a little bit more in the red zone and in the play-action. Gabe is more of a down the field guy. I think Max can do anything. He’s a great route runner and just great making plays on the football when it’s in the air. Then you’ve got Billy mixed in there with those crossing routes.”

It all begins with the junior Craig, who only plays as if he were groomed for the job from elementary school.

Craig took few varsity snaps as a rookie, even though the Hornets blew out most Campbell Conference opponents. Tyler Chicoine and Bedard were Leavitt’s quarterback rotation, with run-first Bedard doing most of the mop-up work.

“I started off at running back for JV (last year). The quarterback got injured or whatever, and I knew the plays,” Craig said. “It was pretty much learning all the basics in 7-on-7 this summer.”

Anybody who claims they anticipated the high-octane outcome would be lying.

“Levi being the rookie quarterback coming in and showing off and displaying his talent, it really surprised me,” Green said. “I had to step up and take on a big role. It’s worked out so far.”

Green’s tasks included shepherding senior newcomer Seeley, who sat out two seasons after breaking his collarbone as a freshman.

The latter’s touchdown catches of 46 and 24 yards against Cape Elizabeth on opening night, a game Leavitt ultimately lost 35-34 in overtime, were a sign of lessons learned.

“It was just getting used to the varsity level speed and how everything’s going to be working,” Seeley said. “Even in 7-on-7, I don’t think anyone expected us to be as good a passing team. Max helped me a lot. He showed me how to do everything. He and I kind of work off each other. We have plays built where whichever one’s open.”

“Plus we switch sides a lot, so we cover the whole field,” Green added. “We have at least 20 different formations.”

With so many athletes and sure hands in the huddle, someone is open on almost every play.

That doesn’t necessarily dissuade Craig from throwing into double coverage, as he did with supreme confidence on Green’s grab in the regional championship.

“It makes my job easier,” the quarterback said. “They can just go up and grab the ball. I don’t have to be perfectly accurate. I can just throw the ball down the field.”

Hathaway hinted at his optimism in the preseason when he compared Craig to a somewhat smaller version of Eric Theiss, a current assistant coach.

Theiss led Leavitt to the 2009 Class B state title. Subtracting Craig’s inexperience, Hathaway saw the same command of the offense and presence of mind in his new signal-caller.

“He’s improved every week in terms of his learning and his running the offense,” Hathaway said. “At first he was just learning what he had to do. He has a little better idea of what everybody is doing at this point. His reads have come along pretty well. His anticipation of where things are going to be open have been better. We like the way he has progressed.”

Led by 20 seniors, many of them impact players in the backfield, in the slot and on the offensive line, Leavitt’s game a year ago was dominated by north-south running, counter plays and quick screens.

Flankers and tight ends have evolved from battering rams into targets.

“I didn’t play much last year, but my brother did, and he mostly just blocked,” Green said.

“Nobody really knew (Craig) could throw the ball like that. When you give him time, he’s one of the best,” Davis added. “The change was crazy. He throws it tighter. It makes it nice to catch.”

After being contained to season lows of 14 points and 200 total yards in what Green described as a “mud bowl” against Wells, the Hornets return to the artificial turf that should favor their sharp cuts and attacks down the field.

Leavitt’s ground attack produced 47 points at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium against Winslow in last year’s final. The Hornets practiced twice on another carpet, Garcelon Field in Lewiston, this week, and the excitement was palpable.

“I feel like we’re definitely going to have the upper hand with running our routes and stuff,” Seeley said. “We run our routes every day. That’s all we do.”

It has made the defending champions almost impossible to defend.

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