Oak Hill’s Gavin Rawstron (9) tackles Madison’s Thomas Dean (31) in the first quarter in Madison in September. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)

It’s been six years since the No. 6 and 7 seeds squared off in a regional football semifinal. Waterville and Belfast pulled off quarterfinal upsets in what was then known as Class B East, over Hampden Academy and Leavitt, respectively, in 2012.

Anyone paying close attention to Class D South this season isn’t shocked that No. 6 Madison and No. 7 Oak Hill ended the drought. Look beyond the seedings, and one will find two well-coached teams led by talented quarterbacks as well as seniors who have experienced playoff success in the past.

Oak Hill is still digging Thompson Field turf out of its equipment from writing the latest chapter in its postseason history, a 6-0 overtime upset of No. 2 Lisbon in the quarterfinals. The mud bowl limited an offense that had put up 27 points in a loss to Lisbon the week before but also taught it the value of each possession in a playoff game.

Each possession usually resulted in points in Oak Hill and Madison’s Sept. 28 meeting, which the Bulldogs (5-4) pulled out, 47-34, thanks to a late defensive stop. It remains the season-high in scoring for both teams.

Oak Hill sophomore quarterback Gavin Rawstron accounted for 386 yards (119 rushing, 267 passing) of total offense in the first meeting, so he will certainly be the focal point of Madison’s defensive game plan.

Following an impressive freshman season, Rawstron has matured into an all-conference signal-caller for the 4-5 Raiders. Rawstron is capable of making game-changing plays, whether the Raiders line up in spread or the double-wing. He is their leading rusher, and can extend plays by necessity or design to set up receivers Caleb Treadwell, Sam Lindsay and Liam Rodrigue for big plays down the field.

Running backs Quentin Pelkey, Reid Cote and James Borokowski will figure prominently if the Raiders opt to control the ball on the ground.

Oak Hill’s defense bent but didn’t break against Lisbon, despite starting a number of its assignments in its own muddy territory. Seniors Treadwell, Ethan Richard and Gabe Bergeron helped keep Lisbon out of the end zone on its home field.

The Raiders had their hands full with Madison senior QB Eric Wescott the first time, when he rushed 19 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Senior running back Josh Savage scored on four consecutive carries and finished with 109 yards on 11 attempts. 

Wescott, who was a running back on last year’s team that lost to Wells in the regional final, can also make plays through the air, as Mountain Valley discovered in last week’s 40-12 quarterfinal. He hooked up with Jacob Meader for a couple of long pass plays, including a 34-yard touchdown, as well as a 13-yard TD toss to Michael Melanson.


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