TURNER — Nothing against the still-developing second tier of Class C South football, but Leavitt is a lot closer to picking on programs its own size and strength with the Hornets’ return to Class B after a two-year absence.

Donnybrooks against Marshwood, Biddeford and York await. After consecutive trips to the Class C state championship game, including a win in 2013, Leavitt returns to the level at which it won the Gold Ball in 1995, 1998 and 2009.

“The schedule will be more challenging, but it will be more fun, I think,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “It’s not fun when you go out and the game is over at halftime. It will be nice to be in some games and really have to play and coach and execute.”

Maine Principals Association football committee timing of that realignment appears perfect for Leavitt, which returns 18 seniors, 12 of whom were starters or in the Hornets’ regular rotation a year ago.

Led by quarterback Levi Craig and all-purpose back Billy Bedard on offense and Adam Smith and Chandler Lajoie defensively, Leavitt is fully equipped to tackle a slate that also includes Falmouth, Greely and Westbrook. Neighbor and new rival Spruce Mountain stays on board as a Class C crossover opponent within the Campbell Conference.

“We’re going to have more competition this year,” Bedard said. “We don’t have weeks where we can slack a little bit. Every week is going to be a tough week, and it will be a fun year.”

Leavitt had two games of 60 points and three in which it hit 58 last season.

Cape Elizabeth, Wells, Yarmouth and Spruce Mountain furnished solid competition, but the otherwise less-than-taxing journey through the schedule might have caught up with the Hornets in the state final — a 62-14 walloping from Winslow on a cold night in Orono.

“This year we’re going to be able to prepare for stronger teams better than we were last year,” Craig said. “The tough competition will make us better, and we’ll be able to improve a lot faster than we were last year going into the bigger games.”

After opening at Westbrook, Leavitt hosts consecutive home games against Morse, York and Marshwood.

York will serve as Leavitt’s homecoming game. Marshwood has played in two of the past three Class B finals and is defending state champion. Leavitt travels to Waterhouse Field in Biddeford, tradition-rich home of the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl, on the final night of the regular season.

Adjusting to a new roster of rivals is nothing new for Leavitt, which has sat on the MPA’s classification and geographical cut lines for as long as Hathaway has been at the helm. The Hornets have played in B East, B West, C West and now B South.

“We’ve watched a lot of film. The one thing that’s been difficult is getting used to a whole new set of a teams, because we just did that two years ago,” Hathaway said. “You have to spend a lot of time. It’s nothing we’re not used to, but to have it happen so quickly was a little tougher.”

Leavitt advanced all the way to the Class C state game despite a junior-dominated lineup and injuries that nicked away at Bedard all season.

Two years ago, as a sophomore, Bedard was one of the team’s most prolific players as a slot receiver and wildcat quarterback. Now, in the tradition of his older brother, Brian, a Fitzpatrick Trophy semifinalist, Billy is bound to move all over the chess board.

“You want to get definitely get that Gold Ball,” Bedard said. “This is our last attempt, so you want to go out with a bang. You want to really lead, like the sophomores who can fill a role like I did, teach them up and help them get the plays down.”

Craig had one of the most prolific seasons in Maine high school football history as a junior, accounting for 42 touchdowns, 34 through the air.

He looks forward to staring down a secondary or a pass rush that might be a little less friendly this fall.

“I was able as a quarterback to get to know my receivers and backs last year, because we didn’t really have many seniors, and that should transition well into this year,” Craig said.

In other words, nothing’s too new.

“To these guys it’s just different teams that they’re playing,” Hathaway said. “There’s less worry about who we’re playing and more worry about us doing what we’re supposed to do than the other way around.”


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