Leavitt Area High School players hoist the state championship trophy they earned by defeating MCI in the Class C title game Friday in Orono. Dustin Williams photo

Junior quarterback Wyatt Hathaway and Leavitt’s seniors won a lot of football championships as kids coming up through the ranks. In high school, however, it’s been a different story.

In 2017, the Hornets, as big favorites, lost a close playoff game to Gardiner. Then a year ago they took a tough loss to Fryeburg in the Class C South regional final, which Hathaway had to leave early due to injury.

Right before the Fryeburg game, Leavitt lost assistant coach Peter Casey, who died the day before the game.

“We had a tough loss to Gardiner when they were sophomores (and) got ousted in the semis,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said.  “Real tough loss losing Coach Casey before last year’s regional final to Fryeburg. Our kids just used it to make themselves tougher. They’re the toughest kids in the state of Maine, no question.”

The group was used to winning, so being humbled the past couple of years has made Leavitt’s Class C championship win Friday over Maine Central Institute, 30-24, all the sweeter.

“Last year with Wyatt being hurt and not being in that Fryeburg game, I think that’s kind of driven him this year being able to lead his guys in the right direction,” Mike Hathaway said. “As a team, we’ve looked at those losses as, we’ve tried to be thankful for them.”

The start of Friday’s game looked like it might finish in similar fashion as Leavitt’s previous playoff exits as MCI jumped out early to a 12-0 lead.

Huskies quarterback Ryan Friend was throwing the ball all over the field, so the Hornets had to make some changes.

“We weren’t surprised,” Mike Hathaway said. “We had to make some adjustments and dedicate a little more to coverage. The defensive staff did a great job with that game plan.”

At halftime, Leavitt trailed 18-14. In the locker room, the Hornets took part in some self reflection and asked themselves if it was going to be the same ending as previous years.

“Riley Parmenter came over and was just talking to the guys, saying we’re going to move the ball,” Hathaway said. “We can defend these guys. We can stop their run game. We’ve just got to get back on track and get over it and move to the next play. So, great leadership on his part.”

Wyatt Hathaway said the journey to that point was all that mattered.

“Before the game it didn’t really kick in because I was just ready to play, but at halftime we were talking about this is our last 24 minutes together as a group and as a family,” Wyatt Hathaway said. “I just wanted to make plays to give them the gold ball they deserve.”

Wyatt did just that. In the fourth quarter, Hathaway found an opening on the right side and ran the ball into the end zone from 17 yards out, high-stepping at the end, to take a 30-24 lead.

“After I walked in I got a little flashback of all of us as little kids winning championships together,” Hathaway said. “It’s so unreal. Next year isn’t going to be the same without them.”

The defense did its job at the end as senior Mark Hermon made an interception, Cam Jordan made his presence known in MCI’s backfield, and Hathaway sealed the game with a pick with just 71 seconds left.

“It wasn’t just the last four years, we’ve been working towards this forever,” Parmenter said. “It feels so good because we’ve been working towards this since we were eight years old.”

Mike Hathaway knows this group and knows it well. He has watched them grow up through football since some of them were eight years old. He’s also seen what they’ve experienced in high school. So, even a few days before Friday’s state title game, he knew his players were more than prepared for any adversity, even being down double-digits twice in a state title game.

“We lost a regional final the day after one of our coaches died and I don’t think it could have gotten any worse for us, and I don’t think it will get much worse for us, at least on a football field,” Hathaway said on Wednesday. “So we are just going to play with that resolve that we aren’t going to flinch at anything.”

They never flinched.

Sun Journal staff writer Randy Whitehouse contributed to this report.


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