Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale coach Dave St. Hilaire said that he couldn’t wait to get his team to the halftime break during the team’s first showdown with Foxcroft Academy near the end of the regular season. 

The Ponies had dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Ramblers senior lineman Jake Umberhind said his team came out flat, and Foxcroft led 17-0 at the half. 

“I think they came out and they attacked us up front,” St. Hilaire said. “They were going up and down the field on us, I wouldn’t say at-will, but they were going pretty quick and we couldn’t get a stop. We got down 17-0. We couldn’t wait to get to the second half and regroup and refocus because it was a big obstacle to overcome.”

Winthrop lost 24-14 to Foxcroft, and now the two teams will face off again Friday night at Cameron Stadium in Bangor at 6 p.m. for the Class D state championship. 

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Nick Keezer, left, dives in an attempt to tackle Foxcroft Academy’s Jesse Drury as he scampers up the field for a long gain during the first half of an Oct. 22 game in Winthrop. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

St. Hilaire is aware of the missed opportunities that his team had in the regular-season matchup.

“We caused five fumbles but didn’t recover any,” St. Hilaire added. “We threw an interception in the end zone trying to tie the game 7-7 and they flipped the field to the 50 on the interception. All the credit to Foxcroft for putting their foot on the gas and we just couldn’t catch a break and turn things around quick enough.”

The No. 2 Ramblers weren’t able to overcome the obstacles in the regular-season loss to the Ponies, but during their playoff run they’ve started to overcome adversity in different forms, from quarantining players and coaches to close victories. 

“Overcoming some adversity against Bucksport was huge because we had some coaches and players missing because of COVID, so we weren’t 100 percent,” St. Hilaire said. “Last week, hopefully getting the adversity out of our system, getting two late scores and coming out on top (against Freeport), it’s nice to overcome that adversity. We have been able to run the ball, throw when we need to and we are playing playoff football.”

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Robbie Feeney, left, tries to intercept or deflect a pass intended for Foxcroft Academy’s Caden Crocker during the first half of an Oct. 22 game in Winthrop. Crocker hauled in the pass for a first down. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

On the other side, No. 1 Foxcroft is looking to finish off a perfect season. 

“One of the big things we’ve committed to is staying on our schedule,” Foxcroft coach Danny White said. “We all understand that it’s not the same game, but it’s being played at 6 p.m. on a Friday and we need to stay on our clock and treat it like we’ve been preparing the last couple weeks. We understand the opponent on the other side is better. We are clearly the top two teams in the league, we are in this game for a reason and so we know we have to have great execution and our attention to detail on defense has to be as high as it has ever been.”

White is excited about how the Ponies’ defense has come along over the second half of the season. 

“Over the last month going back to the Winthrop game, we’ve given up a total of 29 points,” White said. “We are playing at a high level and turning teams over a lot. Our defense is also scoring points and giving us short fields. It’s not like we were bad defensively to start but we were green in some spots. Our defense improved to the point where it is now and the kids are playing a lot more comfortably with their assignments.”

Winthrop’s running back trio of Logan Baird, Dom Trott and Robbie Feeney combined for 1,694 yards and 26 touchdowns rushing this season but were stifled for just 45 yards and a touchdown between the three in the Foxcroft game. 

For Foxcroft, quarterback Austin Seavey and wide receiver Caden Crocker put up big numbers in the first meeting. Seavey threw for 153 yards and 103 of them went to Crocker, as well as two scores.

“Austin became our starter as a sophomore and never looked back,” White said. “He started working with Ryan Stroud, who is on our coaching staff and was our quarterback in 2009 and led us to a state championship. He’s committed himself to working on his skills throughout the calendar, not just the physical stuff but watching film. He does it throughout all the seasons and Caden is always with him. They’ve built on it and through COVID they’ve worked and they’re just on the same page. They understand each other’s strengths but they also, more importantly, know each other’s weaknesses.”

Foxcroft is trying to prepare normally, as is Winthrop. St. Hilaire said that they had a solid practice on Thursday to finalize some things and get ready for Friday. 

“We’re staying focused, executing the game plan and the kids are locked in,” St. Hilaire said. “They’re ready to go, the coaching staff is ready to go and we really like our game plan. We like the kids and their mindset is all business and they’re relaxed, and you can’t ask for much more than that.”

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