The Cape Elizabeth football team celebrates after its 53-8 victory against Winslow in the Class C state championship game at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium on Nov. 20. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

The Cape Elizabeth football team raised the Gold Ball to the heavens on Nov. 20 at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium.

But it was the week before that the Capers demonstrated that they had the ingredients to become a champion.

A first-time champion.

And our Boys’ Team of the Year.

Trailing perennial power Leavitt by four points in the fourth quarter of the Class C South final, visiting Cape Elizabeth needed a touchdown to advance.

And it was a touchdown the Capers got, but they needed all 10 remaining minutes and 18 plays to pull out the victory.


Cape Elizabeth rode its horses – senior Colin Campbell (who will play lacrosse at Bowdoin next year), junior Nick Laughlin (who is getting looks from numerous colleges) and senior quarterback Caden McDuffie, who took the snap on fourth-and-goal from the Leavitt 3 on the game’s final play. Even with every player on the Hornets’ defense lined up to stop him, McDuffie wouldn’t be denied, finding the end zone for a dramatic 25-23 victory.

“I’ve been ready since I was 5 years old to get my name called for that play,” said McDuffie. “It was nerve-wracking, but I got it done.”

Cape Elizabeth, which averaged over 51 points a game in six regular season victories, then easily rolled over Westbrook (56-0) and Fryeburg Academy (33-6) in its first two playoff games, had finally gotten a stern test and found a way to beat a Leavitt squad that handed the Capers their only loss earlier in the season.

“I don’t know how many games I’ll get to coach like that one,” said Cape Elizabeth Coach Sean Green. “It was a lot of fun. Some incredible moments. We had flawless execution from the offensive line on that last drive.”

The state game versus Winslow was never in doubt, as the Capers led 39-0 at halftime and rolled to a 53-8 victory. McDuffie cemented his place in program lore with over 300 combined rushing and passing yards, five touchdown passes and two TD runs. Laughlin had six catches for 171 years, with three of his receptions going for scores.

“This means everything,” said Green. “It’s unbelievable. We talked in February 2019 for the first time as a team when my staff and I took over here. We talked about this moment here, delivering a Gold Ball to Cape Elizabeth. Not a lot of people believed in us, but we knew this group was special and they delivered.”


The winning didn’t stop that evening, as in March, McDuffie was awarded the Fitzpatrick Trophy as Maine’s top senior player. In June, McDuffie (who will play next year at Louisiana Christian University), Campbell, Laughlin and several other football players helped the Cape Elizabeth boys’ lacrosse team win another championship.

The Capers may experience more football championships, perhaps as soon as next November, but the first state title in program history, and the way it was won, will never be forgotten.

“The season was unreal for all of us,” McDuffie said. “We just prepared and executed everything our coaching staff told us to do.”

“When your best players are also the best human beings, you have something special,” Green added.

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