My state championship predictions have already been broadcast over the airwaves and can be seen among the staff forecast in our informing and entertaining football preview tab. This space gives me the opportunity to explain my picks. I’m still OK with that for now.

Just for a little context, last year I was two-for-four on Class A-D state champions (Marshwood and Wells, the easiest calls) and four-for-eight on regional champions (Portland and Foxcroft. Again, not exactly the 2001 Patriots). When legalized sports gambling explodes, I’m going to start a tout service under the pseudonym “Even Steven.” Guaranteed to break even.

So here are my picks for the 2019 season. I’d be happy to hear yours but just remember, you might do better, you might do worse.

Class A: Thornton Academy over Scarborough

Well, I guess there’s a good chance we’ll get more for our money at Fitzpatrick Stadium the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It certainly couldn’t be less entertaining than the last two Class A championships, which these two schools won by a combined 92 points. But I’ve yet to hear a good explanation why the restructured Class A is good for the long-term competitiveness of Class A.

None of that should keep true high school football fans from watching these two teams in action throughout the season. Scarborough boasts the most electrifying athlete in the state in Jarrett Flaker. Thornton Academy would dominate most teams with its backups’ backups’ backups (and it beat Scarborough by an average of four touchdowns in two meetings last year). Bonny Eagle should be improved enough to threaten both teams and maybe one of those three gets at least a major scare from Oxford Hills during the season. But when these two end the regular season against each other on Nov. 1, it will probably be overwhelmingly regarded as a state championship preview.

Class B: Marshwood over Falmouth/Greely

If I went back 20, no, 10 years in time and told myself that Portland, Cheverus and Deering would be playing in Class B in 2019, 2009 me, which weighed 40 pounds more, would have either kicked my butt or died of a heart attack, which raises many existential questions perhaps only Even Steven could answer.

The important thing is that Portland will likely be a factor in Class B while the other two schools play the role of competitive Class B teams. But Marshwood, even in what looks on paper to be a rebuilding year, has been closer to a Class A-level program for a while. Kennebunk, the only school to keep Marshwood from representing B South (twice) in the last seven years, may have the talent again to keep the Hawks from making it three straight state championships.

For long-time Class B observers, Falmouth and Greely forming a co-op makes about as much sense as the Portland schools not playing Class A. But at least this merger keeps football alive in a community, Cumberland, that has come to terms with its football fate. Now they’re forming one front in the always ruthless battle for Class B North. The Yachtsmen had a lot of talent coming back before they joined forces with their fierce rivals. The reinforcements from Greely were important cogs in the Rangers reaching the regional semifinals last year. Defending champion Brunswick, Cony and Lawrence won’t give up B North without a fight.

Class C: Leavitt over MCI

In retrospect, Leavitt probably would have benefited from a tougher schedule last year. On paper, it looks like the Hornets will have a tough one this year, starting with a high-scoring Hermon team in Week 1, with tough road trips to Fryeburg and Foxcroft and future home dates against York and Wells. The latter two teams will be significant threats in C South, in which only Fryeburg pushed Leavitt last year. Their depth should help them survive the pounding they’ll take from that schedule, and the close game experience should help them thrive in the playoffs.

C North looked like a two-team race last year between MCI and Hermon before Nokomis swooped in during the playoffs and shocked the state for its first championship. The region could come down to two, three or four teams this year, but all prognostications include MCI. The Huskies aren’t as deep as they have been during this impressive run, spanning back to 2014 when they were in Class D. But they do have a three-year starting quarterback in junior Ryan Friend and enough cornerstones on their always stingy defense to win their fifth regional title in the past six years.

Class D: Oak Hill over Foxcroft

D South coaches are already sick of answering questions about Wells moving the Class C. But don’t doubt that they are making sure their players are hearing opportunity knock. Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale is inexperienced in some key spots, but the Ramblers have plenty of experience and talent to make a case that they are the new team to beat. Lisbon lost some big names but losing big names usually only galvanizes the Greyhounds. Spruce Mountain won’t be flying under the radar for long. But Oak Hill has the best player in the conference, Gavin Rawstron, and a coach who reminded everyone again last year that his teams play their best in November, Stacen Doucette. It’s been a few years since we could say Class D South would be this fun to watch, week in and week out.

Class D North, aka The Little Ten Conference, already lost Ellsworth/Sumner to eight-man football and Orono due to lack of numbers. Eight schools remain, and some of them may be seriously considering joining eight-man next year. So it is fitting that the conference’s two signature schools, Foxcroft and Bucksport, are the two favorites in what could be its final season as we know it. Bucksport has lots of experience and lots of beef up front, but Foxcroft has dominated the conference since returning from Class C two years ago.

Eight-man: Old Orchard Beach over Yarmouth

Ten teams, two divisions. The top four from each division make the playoffs and the winners of each division meet  for the state title. It’s an experimental format for what is for all intents and purposes an experimental league in year one.

Experiment or not, one gets the impression OOB is ready to rumble. The Seagulls started playing around with eight-man concepts during last season. Coach and athletic director Dean Plante is one of the biggest advocates in the state for eight-man and as motivated as anyone to make it not only a viable but also an exciting option for Maine’s small schools. No team will be more prepared for the transition and it will show all season.

Yarmouth was fairly competitive (3-6) in Class C last year. Though fairly young, the Clippers should have the athletes to compete in eight-man, too. They also have Jim Hartman again, who returns after a seven-year stint at Portland. He led Yarmouth to Class C state titles in 2010 and 2011. If nothing else, he’ll prove running teams can thrive in eight-man.

Good luck to all of the teams this season. And to all of those who feel slighted by my picks, I will once again leave you with this quote from Principal Skinner of “The Simpsons”:

Prove me wrong kids. Prove. Me. Wrong.


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