The Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale football team’s road to the Class D state championship game was full of bumps.

On the field, the Ramblers did fine, winning every game but one. It was the game schedule that was bumpy. After a smooth first three weeks (though a planned Week 2 bye ended up being an apt beginning to a start-and-stop season), it was rare for them to have a game not be altered in some way, and for reasons both expected and completely random.

COVID-19 issues took out a couple of games and prevented Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale from facing rivals Lisbon and Oak Hill this season. Rain pushed a couple of games back a day. A power outage about 15 minutes before kickoff moved a Friday night game against Freeport to Monday afternoon. Then four days later the Ramblers faced Foxcroft, their state title game opponent and the only team to beat them this season.

The only time the Ramblers played on consecutive Fridays or Saturdays was Sept. 18 and 25, and their quarterfinal and semifinal games Nov. 6 and 13.

Through it all, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale continued to win with a combination of power running, big-play passing, strong line play and stout defense. The Ramblers, like Foxcroft, established themselves as one of the top teams early in the season and their play never gave a reason to doubt their standing near the top of Class D.

Now the Ramblers will play for their first gold ball since winning Class C in 2000, and are in their first state title game since 2008. This is their first time playing in a Class D final, as all of their previous appearances (six wins, three losses) were in Class C.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale and Foxcroft play Friday at 6 p.m. in Bangor.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale ball carrier Brayden Stubbert, left, runs away from Bucksport defender Timothy Marcel during a Class D football game Sept. 3 in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Sept. 3: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 41, Bucksport 20
Dominic Trott scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half in the season-opening win. Winthrop took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter that the Golden Bucks cut to 13-12 in the second quarter. The Ramblers spent most of the remainder of the game pulling away. Trott ran for 149 of Winthrop’s 249 yards rushing. He also was in on 13 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one.

Sept. 18: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 48, John Bapst 18
Logan Baird was the Ramblers’ standout runner in their second game of the season, which came after a Week 2 bye. Baird ran for three first-quarter touchdowns (one from 65 yards out, the other two 5 yards each) to help Winthrop to a 20-0 lead. Baird finished with 125 yards rushing. QB Andrew Foster ran for a TD and threw for a couple, finishing with 162 yards passing in his second start.

Sept. 25: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 40, Poland 6
In a game postponed a day due to rain, Trott carried the load for the Ramblers, racking up 225 yards and three touchdowns, including 64- and 26-yarders in the first quarter, on only 14 carries. Foster (71 yards rushing) scored 2-yard and 3-yard TDs runs and connected with Baird on a 17-yard scoring strike in the second quarter as Winthrop built a 33-0 halftime lead over the Knights. Trott also was in on 10 tackles, including three for a loss, while Robby Feeney was in on nine tackles and intercepted a pass.

Oct. 8: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 48, Madison/Carrabec/Valley 6
Following an unplanned week off due to Lisbon’s COVID-19 issues, Winthrop racked up 306 yards rushing, highlighted by Baird’s 109 yards (and two TDs) and Trott’s 82 yards (52 of those coming on a second-quarter touchdown run). Foster finished with 130 yards passing, with a 50-yard TD pass to Brayden Stubbert and a 23-yarder to Robby Feeney. Trott also had 11 solo tackles.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale head coach Dave St, Hilaire, center, instructs the team during a Monday afternoon football game against Freeport on Oct. 18 in Winthrop. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Oct. 18: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 40, Freeport 14
This matchup between Class D contenders was moved from Friday night to Monday afternoon due to a power outage caused by a nearby car accident 15 minutes before kickoff. Winthrop lit up the Falcons with big play after big play, particularly in the pass game. Foster threw for 201 yards and two TDs despite completing only four passes. Evan Jones caught a 72-yard TD, Baird a 52-yard TD and Stubbert reeled in a 63-yard pass. The running game, meanwhile, wasn’t too shabby: Baird gained 114 yards on the ground, while Trott ran for 86 yards. Trott and Feeney each had 10 solo tackles.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale’s Robby Feeney, right, stiff-arms Foxcroft Academy’s DJ Scheel as he tries to get to the sidelines during an Oct. 22 game in Winthrop. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Oct. 22: Foxcroft 24, Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 14
Four days after beating the Falcons, the Ramblers started slow in this battle of unbeaten teams, falling behind 17-0 in the first half. Second-half TD runs by Foster and Baird got Winthrop within three points, 17-14. However, on fourth-and-10 from the Ramblers’ 12 with 5:25 remaining in the game, Ponies QB Austin Seavey found Gideon Topolski in the end zone to all but seal the victory — and deal Winthrop its first — and heading into Friday’s state title game — only loss of the season.

Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale quarterback Andrew Foster dashes between Bucksport’s Joey Bowen and Azize Younes during a Class D quarterfinal game in Winthrop on Nov. 6. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Class D quarterfinal
Nov. 6: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 46, Bucksport 27
The Ramblers had their third two-week layoff of the season, this time due to their own COVID issues, before starting the playoffs the way they started the season: against Bucksport in Winthrop. The Ramblers’ offensive line opened enough holes for Baird to run for a school playoff-record 253 yards and four touchdowns. Winthrop built a 26-0 lead by the second quarter, then traded scores with the Golden Bucks in the second half. The Ramblers ran for 344 yards, and Foster threw TD passes to Feeney (66 yards) and Stubbert. Trott finished with 14 solo tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble.

Winthrop’s Aidan Grant tackles Freeport’s Nick White during a Class D semifinal playoff game in Winthrop on Nov. 13. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Class D semifinal
Nov. 13: Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 28, Freeport 19
The Ramblers’ 20-0 lead quickly evaporated to a one-score game when the Falcons scored twice with less than five minutes to play. Freeport recovered an onside kick after its first TD, but wasn’t as fortunate after the second. This time, Trott picked up the ball and scampered 51 yards to give Winthrop a 28-13 lead with 2:14 remaining in the game. Trott, who on defense intercepted a pass and was in on 13 tackles, also had two rushing touchdowns, and Foster tossed a TD pass to Jones.

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