WALES — Oak Hill didn’t face many average opponents on its journey to a third consecutive Class D football championship game. Lisbon, Winthrop/Monmouth and Dirigo all demonstrated that they would have been worthy representatives of the Campbell Conference.

To put things in the perspective of a sports world dominated by statistics, however, here is what the “average” team accomplished this season against the Raiders’ defense: 168 yards, two turnovers, sacked twice, three yards per carry, 40 percent pass completion percentage, and no touchdowns through the air until a game was well out of reach.

“It’s definitely a team effort on defense,” senior linebacker Levi Buteau said. “With the linemen and everyone in the backfield working together and talking, using all of our resources, doing all the things we worked on in practice during the week, definitely has helped. Pretty much everyone talking and doing what we were told in practice is the best thing for us.”

Battle-tested Oak Hill (10-0) encounters its most prolific challenge to date when it confronts Maine Central Institute (10-0) of Pittsfield in the Class D final on Friday night. MCI rolled up 484 points in only nine full games this fall, or just under 54 per game.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at the University of Maine in Orono.

While it is almost impossible to compare these exorbitant numbers when no common opponents are involved, it is safe to say that the Huskies haven’t faced a defense prolific as the one that will be dressed in red, white and blue on Morse Field at Alfond Stadium.


Oak Hill has registered a staggering 75 tackles for loss. Connor Elwell, Brian Thorpe and Matthew Strout all achieved double figures in that category.

Seven different players have intercepted a pass. Nine Raiders notched at least one fumble recovery.

“I think we play assignment football. Everybody has a job to do,” Oak Hill coach Stacen Doucette said. “We have some very good defensive linemen. We have probably the smartest defensive ends. We feel very confident they can make adjustments on the fly. We have aggressive linebackers.

The Raiders rarely give opposing offenses even a shred of confidence early in games. A Winthrop/Monmouth safety represented the only first-half points scored against Oak Hill in either the regional semifinal or championship.

Oak Hill held Lisbon to three first downs before intermission this past week, building a 21-0 lead that was enough to stave off a furious Greyhounds’ comeback for a 21-20 win.

“We were just stopping the run when we needed to,” Elwell, who leads the team with 74 tackles, said. “We had good emotion. Everything was rolling for us in the first half.”


The Raiders also show a knack for getting the stop when they need it most.

Strout recovered a fumble at the Oak Hill 11-yard line to preserve a 20-14 win over Dirigo in the second week of the regular season. He did it again in the playoffs against Winthrop/Monmouth, forcing a turnover that was the first of two red zone denials in the fourth quarter of a 13-10 victory.

Steven Gilbert returned a fumble for a touchdown to provide Oak Hill’s initial points in the regular-season clash with Lisbon, one of only two games in which the Raiders’ opponent got on the board first.

“We put each kid on our team in a position where he personally will be successful,” Doucette said. “Not necessarily what the defense calls for, but where he personally will be in a good situation. That’s what we focus on, and it’s been pretty good for us.”

Many of Oak Hill’s throw-downs for negative yardage take place on consecutive plays, something Buteau, a three-year starter, believes is no accident.

“Confidence is a big thing, and motivation from teammates helps out a lot,” Buteau said. “When someone makes a good play, everyone’s congratulating that person, so everyone gets pumped up. When the next play comes around people are right back at it doing what they’re supposed to do.”


Nine players in Oak Hill’s regular defensive rotation — Buteau, Elwell, Garrett Gile, Brendon Tervo, Austin Goucher, Dalton Therrien, Colby Spencer, Connor Nilsson and Jonah Martin — are seniors who have played regularly either on offense or defense since their sophomore season.

Each of them already has put fingerprints on two Gold Balls, in other words.

“They’re comfortable with it,” Nilsson said. “They’ve been in the pressure situations. It’s familiar to them.”

“We talked about every play on defense making them work for yards. No easy ones,” Doucette said. “We have senior leadership on this team, kids that have been to now three state championships. They know the routine. This team has won more one-point games than any team I can remember.”

Oak Hill was blessed with defensive stars in 2013 and 2014. Gaziano Award winning lineman Luke Washburn, Alex Mace and Samson Lacroix all earned a place in any discussion of a Raiders’ all-time team.

There’s no running away from anyone in the current group. The Raiders flaunt a collective strength that makes them perhaps even more dangerous this season.


“We do different things with different kids. We just want to utilize everybody’s strengths,” Doucette said. “We look for the Johnny on the Spot on offense. It’s always a different kid. It’s the same with defense. On defense everybody does their job, and depending on what the offense does it could be a different kid making the play.”

Buteau also noted that Oak Hill’s coaching is anything but average.

“Scouting is a big thing. They get a lot done for us, and they tell us pretty much all the formations we need to do,” he said. “When (the other team is) in certain formations, we have our special calls. We just know what to do and when to do it.”

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